Paying attention is part of it.
Knowing what to focus on, though, precedes that.
I want to offer THE MIRROR for those who are going through a period of re-framing.
I am, here where I am. I’ve been thinking about it this year and wanted to share some of the highlights of what I’ve been finding out. This is arranged in a set of weekly prompts, sent over email, and conversations that take place between those posts.
The idea is to talk about it.
Where we are, what we’re into. How it’s moving for us. Or not moving. That’s a thing too. I’ve found so many of my old acquaintances falling off the radar, through this pandemic. I was really surprised at first but recognized that not all of us are ready to talk, and that talking itself is an effort. Talking to people whom we can’t see, can’t meet, can’t share with honestly: that’s hard, too.
However, I also have seen that more of the time than less of the time, I’m the one who reaches out first. This was okay with me for a while because I wanted to be in touch, and check in a lot, and keep a perspective on things. Sometimes more than 20 years had passed. I had time and space over lockdown in Ho Chi Minh to do this. I reconnected with acquaintances as far back as elementary school, to get a sense of where people had gone in life and how they were feeling now. It was good to do this. I talked about that project, which I called ‘Conversations with my Past,’ since I like naming things, as an aside towards the end of ‘New Baselines,’ which was a podcast interview I did with SV. See: https://dipikakohli.com/conversations-new-baselines/.
It’s not a new theme for me.
And what we choose do with it.
My TEDx, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left,’ was all about this, too. That was 2012, in my hometown, and I feel like the essential message of it has crystallized over the years since for me personally.
We are all going to die: fact.
What will we do with the time we have: it’s up to us to decide it.
The hardest part for me in my younger years was trying to figure out why no one really wanted to talk about this. I still remember a woman saying, What I want to do with my life? That’s so stressful! I don’t want to talk about it because it’s going to make me even more stressed! She was visibly distressed and I moved away, sensing she was on the verge of something like a nervous breakdown. I was surprised, though. I was always talking about philosophy with my old friends in high school, probably because we were teens and it was a boarding school and we had this thing going there. Talking in the 90s was different from talking now, because you didn’t do it through screens. We talked a lot. We bonded in ways that I think I understand were quite special, looking back on that opportunity. I was lucky. I also got to be part of experiential learning programs like Governor’s School East in Laurinburg, NC, and a summer of Japanese language study at Middlebury and study abroad in Japan at Stanford Japan Center and in Ghana with a program that connected to the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. So, a lot of opportunity. Since 2017, I’ve been doing Atelier S P A C E popups but I came to understand not everyone cares about co-creating. That’s okay.
Asking, ‘Who am I?’ and really wanting to find out takes courage
Big picture stuff. Existential stuff. Thinking about the meaning of things. Philosophizing. And not by attaching names of dead people to the ideas, but by simply piecing our way towards what we feel, through experience, sharing, breakthroughs, insights, and sometimes, simply learning how to listen to each other better. Showing up.
But something has changed.
People are talking about this now. Why do we work? What does it mean? Who am I? What’s important to me? What really matters? What’s the next thing for me? Who am I becoming now? What is it about me that I want to change?
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.
Not sure who said this, really. Sometimes people misattribute stuff, because the actual people who said the things don’t fit the molds of what a wise person ‘looks’ like. Who truly invented the light bulb? You can google it. That’s one example.
What about you, though, where you are right now? What’s next for you, in life? Naturally, this is a big question and I’m a big believer of re-visiting the ideas of what one wants to do, what one cares about, consistently.
I followed the Getting Things Done method in 2009 or so, following the rules exactly, and in the time after that, I completed my first book and launched it. The Elopement. See kismuth.com.
I credit the method to helping me actually get it done; it was a project that took me a long time to research, reflect on, articulate, and finish. Because I wanted it to be real. I wanted it to be the feeling that I had after all the hard days went by and the sensations of distancing eased. I felt better and better as the day came for finishing and publishing it. The method also helped me understand how much of my time I wanted to allocate to Design Kompany, which turned out to be about 15%. I had other things I wanted to focus on.
Traveling the world, for example.
Twenty-seven countries, I think?, over just as many years.
What I wanted to do more than touch down in these though was to immerse. I lived in Japan a year, Ireland for three, Vietnam for a year and a half, and Cambodia for eight. So far so good, but honestly, I’m so over traveling as a goal.
I have other goals now. I found them through re-doing my own worksheets in THE MIRROR. I still have the same 3-ring binder I used for the Getting Things Done method all those years ago, and I’ve added some 2-ring ones since I’m in Asia, so my papers are a mix of B5, A4, and 8.5″ x 11″. I also have a clipboard for the Lists. The famous lists. I highly recommend this method if you are struggling with prioritizing your tasks. The post I wrote that links to one person’s excellent summary of how it works, is here: Best One-Pager on the Getting Things Done Method.
I wish I still had that label-maker. I wonder if it’s in a box somewhere, very far from where I am.
Goals are individual: what are yours?
They are so big, in my old culture. To achieve. To have achieved. To make. To have made. To arrive at some lofty place of having done something. Accomplished the whole set of things that are that which others will perceive as meaning something. Cool. Driven and motivated is really great.
Goals, though, like all other things, can change.
As we grow, we change.
Life happens to us. Wisdom comes at some point. We become more aware. We recognize our beliefs are false (this one is hard, right?). Our egos have to be checked and we have to stop going for it when ‘it’ is vague and maybe doesn’t have meaning for us anymore, anyway. (This is also hard to admit.)
Who we are becoming is at every moment up in the air, and it’s up to us, as well as our intentionality, to design and chart a course. Adjustments, realities, conversations all influence and affect us.
I found this picture today while searching around on LinkedIn, under the hashtag #meaningofsuccess.
So many people write about this. How they want to be really well-being focused. I can’t help myself but wonder, is that for real though? I have read Quora posts about armchair activism and virtue signaling, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s the saying of the thing that is the point, rather than behind-the-scenes doing of the work to actually do the thing that matters more. Rather than weigh in with comments here and there and everywhere, I will simply re-offer THE MIRROR.
Maybe Boomers wanted to make a lot of money and be recognized for hard work of going in to the office and being modern slaves. I’m not sure. I don’t know, I am not an expert. But some of us, maybe somewhere between Boomers and Millenials, like me, are questioning both the idea of slaving away for someone else’s agenda and withdrawing from society altogether. Is there not way to achieve materially without compromising the bigger work of finding out who we truly are? Hmmmm.
Where I am, people love to talk about Success. It’s so trendy. I don’t think Success looks like what my acquaintances seem to want: a big car, a big jewel on a ring that you can show everyone, and a big house. This is Phnom Penh, where I am. There is more to say but I am not a cultural anthropologist. A big car? Jewelry? A house? And then what, I wonder.
How can you argue with someone saying, “I want to have a lot of money.” It’s their life, after all. Arguing isn’t interesting to me. So I don’t. I just think to myself, quietly, Okay. But: Why? What is the bigger picture behind that? Money is a way to do stuff; what do you want to do.
If these lines of questioning interest you, let me invite you to read further. Because I have THE MIRROR for more of this.
Attend to the person you are, right now
Attention is your most valuable asset. Steer your course into the second half of 2023 knowing what it is that matters to you, exactly.
With THE MIRROR.
Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli will work with you through an experiential learning workshop, so that you can discover which people, work, and life choices you really want to give your best attention to.
See what THE MIRROR can reveal to you about… you.
WHO SHOULD JOIN. If you are questioning old models, and taking time to regroup, then THE MIRROR is an ideal tool for you.
You can use it if:
- If you are in a period of limbo,
- If you are in transition,
- If you have just come out of something or are about to head into a new phase,
- If you have been through some difficulty or a change,
- Or something has pushed you to question your own goals, vision, mission and values,
Decide with confidence exactly what it is that you truly want to do, next. I do mean ‘truly.’ Authenticity is 99% of it. The rest is effort, if you ask me. I feel like things naturally move in the right direction if we just know very clearly who it is we are and what we stand for. In no uncertain terms. I’ve always felt that way and even with the shifts that happened for me personally, in these last 10 years in Southeast Asia, I still do. The people I admire most are the ones who are true to who they really are. What that looks like is irrelevant; as long as they are real. But that’s me. I can talk about it. How to discover realness, how to move in ways that are honest, because for 20 years that’s all I’ve been interested in, and whom I’ve been talking with, to learn this.
How to be real. Big topic right? But yeah. I’ve been studying it, in my own ways, ambiently, through observation, moving around and around, in the world.
More about what a psychologist said about how we can change our personality by deciding what we want to focus our attention on, is at this link.
SCHEDULE. It is an 8- or 12-week workshop. Emails arrive once a week. Conversations happen in the asynchronous conversations between the postings. This takes place on email, in forums, on occasional Zoom voice calls with those who opt-in, and sometimes, also, Slack.
COST. THE MIRROR is offered on a sliding scale of USD160-225.
What people are saying
HERE ARE A FEW testimonials from guests of THE COJOURNAL PROJECT (2014-2015), SELF (2014-2016) and THE MIRROR (2018-2020)
My writerly friends (those who do so publicly and privately), I’ve been participating in Dipika Kohli’s CoJournal project since just before the new year (2014). It’s a unique project and it’s pretty special. If you’ve been looking for some structure or accountability in your writing – and supportive community in very small groups, this could be for you. Dipika is a compassionate leader and offers some accessible assignments that are helping to shift my writing lens. I love it.”—MH, 2014
“I am writing because I wanted to thank you all for sharing ideas and memoirs, I am very much impressed and really enjoyed the workshop [SELF]. I’ve been working on my writing, and finished one short story which I feel so happy after I finished writing it (it’s in Thai.) I’m working on its English version pretty soon and will send to you all for the feedback. Bottom line is I’m happy to let you know that I’ve somehow overcome my fear of writing, though there’re times when I got stuck with the stories, get distracted, or feel like it’s not good enough – if it was before, I was just going to give up. Now, I feel it challenged me and I find writing more enjoyable. Most importantly, I feel like my writing is getting better too.” –JL, Guest at ‘SELF’, 2014
“I love the space you are creating and holding around the world for deep thought and unusual connection.” —KA, 2017
“Thank you for the opportunity.’ –F, 2018
“Wow, did I enjoy the conversations. So much learning and fresh insights from strangers, old and new friends. If you think you can use some ‘seeing anew’—gaining new perspectives, noticing new sights, becoming aware your blind spots, this might be just what you need.” —AM, 2018
“Warmly recommend it.”–SG,2014
“[This] motivated me more to do what I wanna really do and kick some a**… Thank you, Dipika! —JH, 2016
Read even more reviews of my work at my personal site, which is linked below.
How to join in on the next section for THE MIRROR?
The first step is to apply.
No cost to apply.
Apply at http://dipikakohli.com/apply .
Selected candidates will be invited to register.