Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What were you born to do?

This entire concept of choosing the right career has always been loitering around the cradle of my thought. For quite some time, it tormented me, teased me at every decision-making node- and then after each time that I piggybacked on the comfortable concept of the "herd mentality" disguised as "why reinvent the wheel?", it sowed seeds of doubt in me. At every step, the dilemma haunted me- study further or work? MBA or MS? Finance or Marketing? What did I want to do? What would be I good at doing? I went through the motions, having taken the confusion in my mind as an eternal truth, and letting fate take its vicissitudinous course.

Then one day, it struck me that I had spent 6 months in a firm without being unhappy- I searched for the discontent, but it was no longer there. I realized I'd accidently stumbled upon my calling! But the idea has still fascinated me- I looked at the transition in my own commitment, and I looked at others, and I wonder, does it exist at all? Does everyone necessarily have a calling in life? Is the theory relevant in today's framework? Does anyone ever "find" their calling or does it just happen to you?

Writers' minds work like magic- the moment you think of a good idea and DECIDE that it will be the fodder for your next bestseller that will pick up Harry Potter by the scruff of his neck and throw him off the bookshelves, some obscure author across the world has already read your mind 3 yrs ago and has shamelessly released a book on exactly the same topic. So it didn't come as a surprise when my friend sent me this: http://www.fastcompany.com/online/66/mylife.html. Interesting read (worth the length, you lazy people!), and I was happy to see confirmation of some hunches I had.

Well, is it practical to find one's calling? Most people view work as a means to an end, and hence choose the best paying jobs outta campus. The idea is that XYZ's calling in life is sound engineering, but it would pay nowhere as close to MBA's, so is he mad to even think twice abt signing the dotted line with Mck? I agree somewhat with the practical logic behind that. But has the inequality between jobs widened so much in today's world as to make the concept unviable? I think not, jobs were always unequal. And as always, there are opportunities today for doing smth that you like, like entrepreneurship and if you succeed you will make much more money as compared to a top banker. Most people overlook the fact that the top bankers are the ones who are insanely driven and very good at what they do- most probably because banking IS their calling in life. It may sound cliched, but if you do what you love, the money will come. In the rare case that it doesn't, happiness always will.

How does one go about finding it? For people like me, with no clear skills sets in any particular domain, its even more difficult. We were the Carpet bombers in IIMB- our motto was "Have CV, will apply". But I genuinely liked every course I took. And loved none. But one fine day, I asked myself, forget the work. What aspects of the working environment would be important to me? And the answers came strongly enough- high intellectual quality of people, dynamicism and a certain bit of luxury. I knew instantly that Marketing wasn't for me, and went headlong into Finance, despite having done badly in it always. Bronson has solved the riddle for me- I guess most confused people like me suffer from misunderstanding what they are good at with what they want to.

I subjected my office friends to a long discussion on this topic, and was deeply disappointed to know that they didn't believe in it at all, or in the fact that it was practically possible for one to find her calling. They opined that your commitment to work should be 100%, irrespective of how much you enjoy it. And I thought how lucky was I, to be incapable of doing that, else I would never have found the answer to a riddle so critical to my happiness. :)

7 comments:

Nandini said...

Hey Sumit,

I liked what you wrote and the fact that you wrote :-)

And you know am genuinely glad u've stumbled upon your calling :-)

I'm also beginning to believe that it will not come as an epiphany, one just has to go with a certain idea of what one wants and figure it out from there. But yes, the eternal debate of what would you love to do vs. what would pay you well (and may or may not be what you enjoy) will continue, unless you are stoic and take your own calls...

Cheers :-)

Nandini

Attiya said...

I can relate to the stuff you write on your blog.

bhags said...

Hi Atticus,

I think its better not to take life too seriously and take it the way it comes, moment by moment rather than gulping it down...having a job which makes you do what you always wanted to do, is not hard to find, but getting it coupled up with the pay which could buy you all the worldly things...a little difficult to find. But one thing I am sure of, everyone gets an opportunity to do what they always dreamt of, but then for them it becomes a matter of priorities and choices and they often goof it all up....hope you wouldnt be in the same situation. Best of luck and a nice read

Atticus said...

@ Nandini- thanks for dropping by, and thanks for all the help uve given me along the way :)

I like your idea of finding it, yeah I guess one needs some grit to be able to make those choices.

@Attiya- thanks, I hope I havent scared you away, and ull come back to read!

@ Bhags- hey thanks for your comment, and i think its a v practical addendum to my idealistic post. i agree, making the right choices is the key.

Christabel said...

you're obviously a guy who writes your own destiny! having been a regular reader of u'r blog (if and when u DO write that is)......i can only say this....you'll go places sumit.....coz u're one helluva fighter.....and an inspiring one at that :-)

Atticus said...

ey Christabel,

will surely keep up my blogging, thanks so much for the encouragement!

abt the compliment, i prolly think its a bit undeserved, but needless to say, am on cloud niNety nine!

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