Out of the comfort zone

During a casual discussion recently, my friend from college, Jiten informed me that he has deleted his FB account because it was driving him crazy. The reason, “Those who started working when I did, are doing far better than I am. They are taking two international holidays every year, are driving better cars and have a bigger house. I feel like I haven’t achieved anything in life”.

I was amazed because this was coming from a person who has been working for more than nine years and who has a job with a six figure monthly take home salary. His wife is working as well and they are supposedly ‘well settled’.

I started thinking about the first job-it is the culmination of a long cherished dream for most. The thrill that comes with the first salary, the perks, the freedom and above all the independence.

However, within a few years, the enthusiasm of making it big or rising through the ranks takes a hit. It becomes either a mundane routine or gives rise to thoughts about alternate career paths or an escape plan!

The trigger could be different for most of us – disillusionment from the corporate culture, skill/profile mismatch, non flexible environment, no involvement in the overall organisational goals and bad management at a professional level. At a personal level, the factors could be stress, burnout and low income, rewards and recognition.

At this stage comes the urge to learn and unlearn. Acquiring new skills for career enhancement, job change or rather for survival becomes important.

This also teaches us an important truth of life – we cannot dwell on what school or college education has not taught us. We need to pick the best of what is available around us and develop on that learning.

While most of our conversations, discussions and efforts go towards making more money and managing personal finance, these nine aspects would go a long way in ensuring a peaceful and satisfying existence.

Stay healthy                                          as you age, the realization sets in that fitness should be and should have been the top priority. Everything else can be put in place with available resources. Have a routine which is easy to follow and goes well with your daily work hours. It sounds mundane and repetitive but our physical and mental well being should be the primary objective.

Take some risks                                   not taking any risk at all does not make you smart. Take a job in a different city, state or even country. Take up a sport, join a mountaineering club or for that matter whatever you wanted to do but always avoided for the fear of unknown. Not all risks are rewarding, but at the end of it, you would be a better person and would not have too many regrets.

Avoid negativity                                   there would always be the new trends, revolutionary technologies and new age jobs in the so called hot sectors. Do not try to chase the trends- don’t worry about what your cousin or friend is doing. Give a cold shoulder to negative people-be it relatives, friends or colleagues. Your life should not be dependent on their thoughts, comments or advice.

The herd mentality                             you would never get ahead doing what everyone else is doing. So take your chances and try to do something that adds value, is interesting and at the same time gives you satisfaction. It is the unique skill that would sell in the kind of competitive and challenging times that we are living in.

Knowledge                                             gaining knowledge never hurts, especially if it is something that you like. Reading on a wide variety of topics gives you an edge. It definitely helps in developing an independent thought process, stimulates the mind and widens horizons.

Explore options and then settle for the best                      at the age of 12, not many of us know about goals or aspirations or our future vocation. So, we should give ourselves time – we are constantly thinking and ever evolving. There are certain realities we come to know about only when we start working. Explore the myriad of possibilities before finally arriving at a decision.

Savings–it is never too late to start                   a) even if it is just 15% of your earnings to start with, start today, if you haven’t already!    b) Keep on increasing the amount every year. Just follow these two rules and do not count the pennies. You would be amazed at what it amounts to, that too, at an age when you need it the most.

Prioritize and take charge                      get hold of your life, value systems, finances, learning and career. Don’t let anything drift away. Don’t get too jittery, don’t take yourself too seriously. Do not let your boss decide how your career should progress. Do not let your parents, spouse and even friends decide on your behalf. Weigh all the options, but prioritize and decide yourself.

Travel                               like reading, travelling opens avenues and broadens perspective. It instills confidence and helps you appreciate the wonderful world. It helps you know yourself better, enhances creativity and creates new opportunities. For almost all of us, it is a great stress buster.

We can never prepare ourselves for every eventuality. There is nothing like ‘perfect planning’. Life is all about maintaining a balance.

Our education system seldom makes us ‘job ready’ but still our ultimate aim is to get a job that pays well and enables us to lead a happily-ever-after life.

We need to realize that there is much more to life than just making money.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning

While it is good to go with the flow, we need to make sure that it is in a direction which holds something promising for our future. Focusing on some or all of these nine aspects might help in setting the direction of the flow for you!

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