Downshifting

Downshifting is a noticeable worldwide trend, one that I’ve experienced with myself, in my own personal network of 30-somethings and fellow startup founders. The first principle for downshift thinking is to be eager to trade in money for time.

Listing out the classic traits I’ve directly observed in downshifters:

  • Reducing the amount of time spent on apps, especially social networks such as facebook, twitter and trading that time in for face to face interaction and groups.
  • Making it imperative to avoid long commutes. Staying close to your workplace.
  • Investing time and effort in locating an irregular, or non-mainstream job position that may compromise on career growth but is rewarding in personal freedoms*.
  • Paying greater attention to pressing social issues, especially those that most people would be apathetic to.
  • Proactively investing time in kids, family, health, wealth, hands-on skills, creative endeavors.
  • Seeking time-tested methodologies that allow you to address the stresses of city life.
  • Making time and space to be with one’s self.
  • Seeking wisdom, answers to existential questions, or lasting purpose.

I wouldn’t laugh at this trend. Its growing and the startup world has taken to it in a big way. The corporate world will in time learn to acknowledge what’s happening here.

A note of caution, startup culture still promotes the image of the hard at work, 24×7 working founder, or fast cash-burning startup that makes it seemingly incompatible with personal behavior changes that come with downshifting. As always, I’d say to that “go your own way”. There’s plenty of exceptions out there.

* I’ve just discovered an intriguing book on “God’s Own Office“, the story of James Joseph, a Microsoft professional who sets up his home-office out of Kerala while continuing to work for Microsoft. You can get it in hardcover here on flipkart.com and kindle edition on amazon.com.

 

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2014 Goes By

A viral cold has brought with it an opportunity to reflect. Going over all the events that dot the past year, I realize how challenging it can be to nurture an idea to fruition. Tangible outcomes, the ones you can feel or touch, those that are real to you and everyone else; they’re hard to create from scratch.

I’ve joined up this year’s Startup Leadership Program from Pune. Although I was greeted with initial questions on “what are *you* doing here?”, as I went through the program it’s helping me open up in many ways. An interesting discovery for me has been to learn that a significant number of startup founders had begun their own spiritual journeys. A friend called that leaning out as “downshifting”.

Through the entire year, I trialed three different ventures. One which I setup at the beginning of this year, another which I joined in Bangalore in June and the final one only recently which stuck and continues to evolve. The experience of teaming up with collaborators to solve a problem energizes me for weeks together, although I don’t explicitly seek it out, the rush is welcome.

An emergent sequence of circumstances brought me back in the saddle of running the community website – punestartups.org for startups based out of Pune. With it came the ability to contrast design habits around products for the desktop and for the mobile-first world. I’m now certain that India is going to be a mobile-only connected audience.

My son’s growing up. He’s interacting and racking up those inches. He isn’t putting on a lot of weight. He enjoys sharing his world with us and vies for our attention, especially on days when my better half and I are working from home. He’s devised infallible ways of interrupting whatever we’re doing. Crawling up to my desk on all fours, he barks a sweet puppy dog bark alerting me to his presence.

Apart from the usual routines I’ve made it a habit to run, build software and meditate whenever I get the chance. I’ve signed out off the many digital social networks and they’ve been replaced by other networks of a different kind.

I’m looking forward to the next year.