I’m not really sure if 2016 was a year of massive disappointments or of exponential growth because there had been too many ups and downs. But the last quarter to the year seemed to be like a roller coaster ride that went only up and up. I developed a habit of writing a blog post and an email to my email list subscribers ever Friday. So, this Friday was the Friday of the year. I thought it would be great to sum up my year in a blog post.
Here it is. Just one day is remaining before the calendar year would change to 2017. Yet, another year of our lives has come to its end and a lot has been lost and a lot gained. Everything is getting interesting more and more as the years go by. There used to be a time that I had given up on living and was completely fed up with the things and people around me. But in the recent two years, many things changed but more importantly, I changed.
Was My Transformation Easy?
The complete transformation I went through during the last two years has been an amazing journey. I would admit this outright that it was painful in the beginning but things eventually became manageable in the due course of time. From a person who was immersed constantly into procrastination to becoming a person who is always in the execution mode and getting things done was not easy. But I had no other option, right? So, I chose to eat that frog.
I have observed that I had the patience of not giving up. The resilience which was required to survive the period of immense emotional pain. The pain which really shatters you from the insides and the pain that is given by the very people you take pride in calling them your dear ones. I chose not to give up and not to mess it up. I ate crow and learnt how to overcome my fears rather than running away from their shadows.
I had Written my Goals
I was really focused about getting a lot of things done in 2016 by the end of 2015. I had written my goals for setting up my personal development blog and written the strategies to drive traffic to my blog and to develop a product that I could sell on my blog. The problem was not that I had no content strategy but the problem was that I was just another personal development blogger who would read blogs and forums in his niche and then curate and re-write the content for his audience. Maybe, that wasn’t a problem itself. The real problem was that I didn’t want to be just another personal development blogger.
I wanted to be someone who knew his place. Who knew his game and who played the game the way he should be playing rather than how everyone else is playing the game. I wanted to have a unique voice and an unparalleled tone. I didn’t want to be in the competition with the other bloggers in my space. I wanted to dominate the game as long as I was playing it. But the knowledge I had of the subject back then wouldn’t allow me to achieve all this and I felt handicapped.
I Had To Take The Hard Way Around
I immediately recognized that I had no other option to jump out of my comfort zone and read a lot of books on the subject of personal development and then be able to formulate my own philosophies. Because, if I was saying everything in my own words what I have learned from others then I wouldn’t actually have a unique opinion and I would only be adding to the noise rather than providing people with meaningful content that helps them and is powerful enough to change their lives for the good.
So, along with the goals of setting up a great blog I also wrote down a goal to read at least one book a month. Another of my goals was that I would start delivering training sessions in my city on topics related to personal development to help people from the local community and that would also allow me to leverage my personal brand. With these goals set I was determined that I wouldn’t be playing my game in 2016 and I would be setting the rules for myself. I forgot to mention I was also getting my hands dirty with setting up a website designing startup as I has always wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact I wouldn’t mind if someone calls me a wantrepreneur.
I was Determined to Be Successful
My startup got selected at BUITEMS Business & Entrepreneurship Incubation Center (BBIEC) and the induction ceremony took place on January 8, 2016. It was a great start of a year and I met Ahsan Iqbal the federal minister for Planning and Development the same day. I also met an amazing bunch of people that day whose startup ideas had been selected at BBIEC along with mine for incubation. It would be totally worth mentioning two of them, Asghar Khan who started a community school in his village providing free and low-cost education to poor children and Saddam Ali Qazi a guy who came up with an idea to make a brand of products related to Balochi handicrafts.
I was motivated to work hard to make my startup a success and to achieve the goals I had set for this year. Immediately, I started doing the market research in the days that followed and I also acquired a client. Then came the Improve Your Business (IYB) training which was five days long and ended on January 22, 2016.
Basic & Advance Level Social Enterprise Development Training
Then the next day I caught a plane to Karachi along with Asghar Khan, Javaid Khan, Naseeb Khan, Saddam Ali Qazi, Rashid, Mr. Rehmatullah and Mr. Muhammad Shah. The flight was several hours late than the schedule. We reached Avari Towers Hotel Karachi at 1:00 AM at night and went to sleep without having a dinner because we were all too tired. We woke up next morning and hurried towards breakfast area. Had a great breakfast and then headed towards the training hall where started the five days training on Basic and Advance Level Social Enterprise Development. Our host for this training was British Council and the resource person for the training was Roy Clunie from Scotland.
I learned a great deal about social entrepreneurship in this training and met people from different Universities of Pakistan. On the second last night we were taken to Kolachi restaurant, a famous sea side food area of Karachi. Where we spent a great time and the food there was delicious.
The next day we had a flight back to Quetta at around 3:00 PM if I recall correctly. I had to visit Urdu Bazar in Karachi to buy some books but the challenge was that it was a Friday. On Fridays, most of the shops in Urdu Bazar open after the Friday prayers. I took the challenge and went to Urdu Bazar before Friday prayers and managed to find some shops that were open. I had a list of books with me that I wanted to buy. When I was leaving Urdu Bazar I was carrying 24 books with me.
Disappointments After Getting Back
Prior to going to Karachi, I had a very hectic schedule in Quetta. I didn’t take any rest at Karachi and I was sleeping very less as I used to get up early in the morning for my prayers and when we used to go to our beds in the night it used to be very late. Add traveling to this and you have pretty good chances of getting into a position where your immune system would start to get compromised and you would become prone to developing illness. When I got back to Quetta I realized soon that I was suffering from diarrhea. The medicine that was prescribed to me ended up having allergic reaction and within two days my health was in a pretty bad shape. When rushed to the doctor it was found that I was suffering from Hepatitis-c and it was later confirmed in the blood tests. My liver was in a pretty bad shape and I was restricted to fat-free diet which wasn’t a great experience at all.
I Got Addicted
For about two months I hadn’t recovered my health and was confined to bed rest. My work was seriously affected. A deal with a client with a lavish budget for his project was also cancelled and I wasn’t able to make much progress about anything. This started to have a negative emotional effect on me and I was unable to handle the stress that was building over me every day. The fact that life had punched me in the face and knocked me down right in the beginning of the year when it was all going good scared the hell out of me. I soon found myself addicted to playing League of Legends, which is a very addictive game, on my Computer. Weak and feeble I was unable to move around much so being entertained by playing games on my computer made me feel better. I started to recover but this addiction was not going anywhere. It took me two months to recover from the illness and another one month to get rid of the addiction that I had developed of playing League of Legends all day long.
Three Months Wasted
Three months of a year wasted just like that. I had appeared for admission test for MS program in January. So, now that I had recovered the news of starting of first semester was also here. I started attending my office in the day and took classes in the evening. I also felt week due to the recent illness I had went through. So, things were not easy for me. I started to reflect on the events that had occurred in the past few months. I had gone too hard on myself and compromised my health. I had no team involved in my startup and was working alone because of which during my absence the business had been seriously affected and more had been spent rather than earned. This reflection was an eye-opener. I understood it the hard way that I needed a team that I could rely on and I couldn’t build a great business alone.
So, the next two months I generated no income because I was concerned about building my team and getting the right people on board. I had been reading books about business, team building and leadership. Finally, I managed to convince my friend Fahad Khan to join me. It took me nearly two months to train him as there was Ramzan and Eid during the time he joined our team.
My Decision to Get a Job
During this time, vacancies were announced at my University for lectureship. My dad pushed me to apply for it although I wanted to focus on my business. Eventually, I did apply and cleared the job test. After a few months I was called in for teaching demonstration and then after a few months I got the interview call. Within a few weeks, I received a letter notifying me that I had been appointed as a Lecturer in the department of Computer Science.
This was the time when Fahad had completed his training and we were all set to do business and our processes were intact. So, it was a tough call. My family wanted me to go for the job while I wanted to continue doing the business no matter how unfruitful it seemed to others. I had my options limited so I gave in to the pressure and went for the job. I’ll blame myself here and no one else. Because, I hadn’t been prepared for all this and this was my mistake.
In July, I got the job and my 4 weeks of training started. I met amazing people who had been hired in our batch. It was an amazing experience being between people of such diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds. I formed some great friendships during that training and learned a lot by having conversations with different participants about different things.
Meanwhile, Fahad was looking after the business and he was having a hard time managing all this alone. I was overwhelmed by new responsibilities and had to learn new skills that my new job required from me. Regular academic session started by the end of August, 2016 and I got more occupied by academic activities.
In August Rehan Allahwala visited Quetta. I spent quite some time with him and he also visited my University.
Then I Challenged Myself
In September, I was selected for Youth Impact’s Learning Ka Wheel program in which the trainers would have to go to Government schools and train the children on Personal Development. This was a research based program sponsored by HEC. We were trained for 3 days in this training and the closing ceremony was at Usmania Restaurant, Quetta. I later trained children of Kharotabad High School on Saturdays.
On 16th of September I set a 30 days reading challenge for myself as I had realized that my reading habit was seriously being compromised due to the difficulties I was facing in my new job. I had to revive my habit of reading books so I set this challenge for myself to read these three books in 30 days.
- Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing.
- The Fault is in Our Stars.
- The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman.
What I had totally forgotten about was that my application for the wilderness based youth leadership conference, Markhor – 2016 has been selected and within these 30 days I would have to travel to Islamabad and attend a four days conference making it nearly impossible to complete the 30 days reading challenge. Had I remembered this before setting my reading challenge then I think I wouldn’t have set this challenge at all.
What Happened at Markhor – 2016
The conference dates were 24th – 27th September, 2016. So I had to take the flight to Islamabad on 23rd of September so that I could spend the night there and reach the venue in morning on time. I had come to attend this conference on the recommendation of my friend Izzat Ullah who was part of Markhor team this year. On seeing mostly undergrad students around me I was a little confused about how I would be able to get along with them.
When I reached the venue I was called to sit with my team. All the participants were divided into different teams and a Markhor Alumni was assigned to each group to be their guide who was to be called a “Shepherd”.
Our shepherd was a girl from Karachi who introduced herself to us. Her name was Najmus Sahar and she was a student of Psychology. The total number of our group members were 8, excluding the shepherd. We all started to get along pretty well. A group member Ayesha Ehsan from Karachi had brought Biryani along with her all the way from Karachi for us. We enjoyed eating the Biryani on our way towards Dunga Gali in the bus.
At Dunga Gali we stopped at a hotel and locked our luggage in our rooms and took only the stuff with us in our backpacks that we would need for the next 3 days on the mountain top. After that we set off for Mukshpuri mountain top which was on a distance of about 1.5 hours of trekking on the mountain. It was a very different experience as the sun had set and we were trekking in the dark on a very narrow track and helping each other and periodically stopping to wait for those who fell behind.
To talk about my experience of Markhor I would have to write a separate blog post. Which makes me wonder why I hadn’t done that before? But I would let you know what good Markhor did to me. Even though, I have always been a person who doesn’t run from his fears but tries to face them. At Markhor I realized that a lot of my fears were actually stopping me from doing a lot of things I have always wanted to do. If not then these fears at least were slowing me down for sure. At Markhor I sensed that the only way to succeed is to actually go all in and to start nailing down your goals. The longer you try to delay something the least rewarding it is going to be. You have to make your move and you have to make it now. Tomorrow, you may never have this opportunity or you may not exist by tomorrow.
At Markhor, I learned to challenge myself to new limits. When, I returned from Markhor I had 17 days remaining and still 3 books to be read to complete my 30 days challenge. I also had a pile of work waiting to done. I also had to schedule extra classes for my students. Normally, under such kind of pressure I wouldn’t have given even a second thought to completing this challenge. But this time, I was determined. Despite all the odds I finished the bulky Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing in the next 7 days and The New Confessions of the Economic Hitman and The Fault is in Our Stars in the next 10 days. I completed my challenge on the 30th day.
What Completing the Challenge Taught Me
This challenge made me wonder how I was able to read this many amount of pages in so less time and under such enormous amount of workload. This also confirmed to me that I had gotten better at handling stress. Previously, this was an ability that I mainly lacked. I also learned from this challenge that human beings have this amazing ability that when they push themselves to the limits; their limits expand. I had knew about this in weight lifting that when you regularly train to the point of failure your muscle endurance increases and you build more strength and pack on more muscles. But I didn’t know that this principle would apply in case of other human abilities too.
After The Markhor
After Markhor I have also been trying to be more socially responsible. An example of which is that I have formed a social circle along with my friend Atta ur Rehman and some other fellows where we engage in positive social activities at least twice a month on weekends. To date, I have delivered two training sessions to this group. Which were:
So, I would wrap it up for now. I have faced massive disappointments this year and successfully added a failed startup to my portfolio. But did I achieve something this year? The achievements that I got to my name this year are even more than all the achievements of previous three years combined. Why? Because, I got punched in the face by life so hard that I didn’t had any other option but to punch her back in the face even harder.
Remember, if you are willing to give up at the slightest hint of adversity then you are in for a big trouble. If you want everything to happen on its own for you then you are in for even bigger trouble. Stop having false hopes and start acting now. Your new year resolution isn’t going to work just like your previous year’s as long as you are not willing to get out of your comfort zone and put in the hard work that you think isn’t even required. If you want to achieve some next level thing then you have to put in some next level efforts to achieve it.
You should have patience to go through the tough times and the patience to wait for the results. I wrote about this in detail in one of my blogposts. Another important thing that I want you to know is that it is important to make your goals public. If you have made the best New Year resolution ever and you hide it somewhere in the drawer of your desk then it is not really going to help you. Tell the people around you about your goals. Tell your family, friends and people you interact with about your goals. Find people, who share the same goals with you and build your own community. This way the social pressure to achieve your goals will force you to get out of your comfort zone and to get things done. Remember, perfection breeds procrastination. Just focus on getting the things done and perfection will come along with time. Don’t fear failing. Because, when you fail you actually learn something. So, that is why you don’t actually fail because you do get something out of it.
Got featured on Humans of BUITEMS page.
I also met Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai, a famous blogger and Founder of STC Network, this year. We spent some quality time together.
Some of the goals I’ve set for 2017:
- Start a 40 days running challenge starting from January 1, 2017.
- Expand my team and make my startup a success.
- Complete my MS thesis.
- Learn Android Apps development.
- Read 18 books this year. 80% of them should be about business and personal development.
- Complete Content Marketing specialization on Coursera.
Books that I read this year:
- Good to Great by Jim Collins.
- Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson.
- I Moved Your Cheese by Darrel Bristow-Bovey.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley.
- Crush It! By Gray Vaynerchuk.
- The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma.
- Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing by Robert T. Kiyosaki.
- The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins.
- The Fault is in Our Stars by John Green.
- Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (currently reading).
Books that I have to read in 2017:
- Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk.
- Awaken The Giants Within by Anthony Robbins.
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.
- Build to Last by Jim Collins.
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
- The Lost Islamic History by Firas Al Khateeb.
- Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.
- The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell.
- Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg.
- Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
- Reinvent Yourself by Kamran Rizvi.
- The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
- Ghauri by Salim Ghauri.
Remaining 5 books are yet to be decided.
My Keynote session at Robotics Club BUITEMS on December 30, 2016.
If I say that 2016 was a year of massive disappointments then it wouldn’t be wrong. If I say that 2016 was a year of exponential growth then it wouldn’t be wrong either. But, I would prefer to stick with the positive sentiment yet no way would I deny the brutal facts which clearly illustrate that I could have done much better.
Enough of trying to be at peace with yourself. In 2017, go at war with yourself. Because, it feels much better to be defeated by yourself rather than by someone else and having no idea what struck you.
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Latest posts by Luqman Khan (see all)
- 2016 – Massive Disappointments & Exponential Growth - December 31, 2016
- Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Fear Failing - December 23, 2016
- Why we Fail at Changing Ourselves? - December 16, 2016