Is laziness curbing your enthusiasm? Want to turn entrepreneur at 60? Ask The Doctor!

Address your questions at ASK THE DOCTOR to interact@exchange4media.com or to sandeep@goyalmail.com

by exchange4media Staff
Published - May 15, 2018 8:54 AM Updated: May 15, 2018 8:54 AM

Q. I don’t work for an ad agency or in the media business. I teach at a University. I have a problem and I thought I should seek your advise. My writing work keeps piling up, what do I do? I start writing but am not able to complete it. For example I have a document ready, an edited volume of 100 pages lying with me for last one year. I simply have to make corrections and give to the concerned person. I am not able to get down to working and finishing what is at hand. Similarly, I have a few half-done papers, I had written a piece for a leading newspaper but they did not publish. That is also lying with me. Advise me on what to do.
Dr. P S


Dear Dr. P S
In the Guru Granth Saheb, it says, “Man jeete jag jeet”. Win over your mind, and you would have won over the entire world. For a highly educated and well developed mind such as yours, my advice is simply to conquer the mind, control the mind, channelize the mind, and then you actually need no help.
You need to first figure out whether your problem is 1. Inertia or 2. Laziness or 3. Writer’s block. Now, that is for you to introspect, and decide. To me it looks like a combination of inertia and laziness. How do you get out of such a mindset?

Step #1: Let go of the past. This is very important. And difficult. It takes practice. And then more practice. Whatever has gone wrong in the past, whatever didn’t work out the way you intended, let it go! Banish it from your mind and focus on the ‘here and now’. Past failures and rejections will hold you back if you keep dragging them forward. They will inhibit your productive thinking and feelings needed to establish effective solutions and results. Cut those chains. Tell yourself that your future is today onwards.

Step #2: Change the way you think. Our thoughts are governed by our attitudes. Our attitudes influence the actions we take. You need to work on improving the quality of your thoughts. That will automatically impact and improve your ability to take action. Shift from negative thoughts such as, “I can’t reach my goal because I just can’t get started”, to “I have done this before and done this well. This time too I am going to do it. It may take a bit longer but I will do it”. So please guard against negative thoughts. Think positive.

Step #3: Limit your association with negative people. You may not realize it but you may be surrounded by people who always see the glass as half empty. Such people tend to influence the way you think and behave. You would do well to shed such friends, co-workers and even family. This may sound difficult but if you try you can actually limit the time you spend listening to their moans and groans. If faced with a situation where you have to spend time with such negative people, choose instead to read a book or listen to music. But minimize interaction with negativity.

Step #4: Seek out sweat sessions. Sometimes, an effective way to get out of the neighbourhood where blocks like to hang out (our heads!) is to engage in any high intensity activity or exercise. Whether this involves a casual stroll or something more rigorous, anything that gets you into a different environment, preferably one with fresh air and nature, should do the trick. Any activity that will cause you to become present and grounded in the ‘now’ is great for jump-starting your creativity and circumventing mind blocks (e.g. Gym, Yoga, or Dancing?).

Step #5: Change the environment. This is essential to disarm mental blocks that don’t seem to go away. Our brains are pattern making machines, that’s their job, they make patterns based on our thoughts, words and actions. Very often, our blocks result from us getting stuck in an unwanted pattern of thought, which becomes a routine, which eventually becomes an unwanted rut. A great way to ‘reset’ an unwanted rut, which inevitably leads to the same dead-end destination, is to change the environment we have become so used to. Clean up your desk. Add colour, perhaps nice family pictures, to the room you work in. Put in a nice lamp. Perhaps a couple of nice cushions. Change the curtains. It will all help.

Last but not the least, tell yourself you are going to overcome whatever is holding you back. There is great power in auto-suggestion. You are best when you self-help. Yours is not a unique problem. Lots of others suffer from similar issues. So, get out of self-pity and try some of the steps outlined above. I am sure you will come out stronger and happier.

Q. I work for a very small ad agency. The owner is an old friend. His kids have grown up and moved to the US. He too wants to join them there. He wants to either shutdown the agency or wants me to take it for free, and run it here from. We have been in business for nearly 40 years. I have been at the agency for 35 out of those 40 years. We were small, about Rs. 4-5 crore in business with about 8-10 employees. I know and understand the business intimately. I know I can run the business even after my friend leaves. But I am almost 60 years of age. I am just not sure whether at this stage of my life I should turn entrepreneurial. I may not have to pay anything for the business but an agency as small as ours actually lives on the razor’s edge with monies always very tight. There is no real chance of bringing in newer clients or new talent. We just don’t have the ambition or the capacity to invest. My children are also not interested in joining the business. Sooner or later, the business will have to shut. It is only a question of now or later. Do advise.
Madhu K.

Dear Madhu,
The choice is entirely yours: to keep going, or to retire. I agree with you that turning entrepreneur at 60 is not easy. If you have spent all your life being an employee, quite content with your monthly pay cheque and never to be bothered by the pulls and pressures of running a business, taking charge of this small ad agency may not be easy.

I would like to ask you a contra question. If you were to retire today, what are your plans? If you are happy to be just home, spend time with the family, and pursue hobbies perhaps long forgotten, then just take the option to leave and let your friend close the agency. If you have not worked out in your head what you want to do if you exit work, then think about it. I know many professionals who actually miss the work they were doing once they retire. May be you still have 3-5 years of work life left in you to enjoy.

If the risks associated with the agency are not too much, I would recommend you take it over. Your friend is being very kind to hand over the business to you at zero cost. You keeping the agency alive will surely keep your mind occupied (and productive), and you would have done a noble deed in keeping your 8-10 employees gainfully employed. Give it a try. If it all works out, then no sweat. If it doesn’t work out, the business was going to be shut in any case. My feeling is you will succeed. And enjoy the experience. Entrepreneurship can be heady, howsoever late you start. Good luck!

Our columnist, Sandeep Goyal is an author, media entrepreneur, ad man, and the owner of Mogae Group. He has over 30 years experience in the advertising and media industry.
Address your questions at ASK THE DOCTOR to interact@exchange4media.com or to sandeep@goyalmail.com

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