Essays for Youngsters – How to make choices in life
We live in a world of immense opportunities and while it seems a blessing, every blessing can become a curse in time. Today, there are more individuals unhappy in their professional pursuits than ever before and in a cruel sort of manner, this world of opportunity magnifies the sense of inadequacy one feels in light of one’s achievement, whatever they maybe. The search for a mentally stimulating, financially rewarding and passionately engaging career just got more difficult!
Over our hot cup of filter coffee, Radha is agonizing over her job and career path. A manager grade data analytics expert, leading ground breaking work in use of data analytics in improving customer care with a leading bank, is having a mid-life crisis a bit too early. The work is mentally challenging, well-paying but entails gruelling hours along with no clear career path at the Bank. So she is debating what next for her! But beneath all this, I sense dis-satisfaction, not a burn-out but almost as if she has lost her mojo in life. I prod her to think of what excites her the most.
Over halting words and meaningful silences, she says all her life she wanted to be in medicine but did not make it, therefore completed a bio-engineering degree from England where she excelled as she was good with numbers. On her return, not finding suitable opportunities, she took the first job that was offered in a fledging but growing data analytics team.
Two years gone, she likes the work, it pays her well, but it is still not exciting enough or inspiring enough for her to continue. Smilingly, I repeat what I tell many youngsters today – “It is easy to say what you do not like, but often it is more important to focus on what you like” – this does make decisions easier (even when ordering food!) Why is it that people find it so difficult to make decisions when presented with multitude of options?
Data analytics is the next big paradigm shift in our world that will change every product or service we have been using. The healthcare industry is changing its entire medical protocols through data analytics. If one is in the field of data analytics and interested in bio-medical, I only see immense opportunities for a young person in her thirties! Correct. The problem is not in the availability of choices but understanding the tradeoff between the choices and finding the right mix for oneself.
The world has a way of projecting an image of success as ‘have it all’ and in reality, this is very far from reality! Just as much as I can tell my teenage daughter that you cannot be partying every weekend and aspiring to crack the competitive exams, one has to learn to prioritize one’s needs (intellectual, social, emotional, material) i.e. which one means more than the other.
A start up experience can provide lots of action, quick learning pad and team bonding but not necessary the comfort of a monthly pay cheque, career progression and social status that comes with a large corporate. The truth is that if one wants something, something has to be given away. Let’s face it, if you want married life, you have to give up your bachelorhood – you may quote experiences of people trying to aspire for both and believe me, that’s a messy places to be in !
How to make good choices in life?
To turn an opportunity into a blessing rather than a curse, one needs to sort the inner dynamics and understand how to make better choices in life. What do you really want? What are your priorities – short term, medium term and long term? What will you give up to stay with something more important to you? For Radha the question is “Is she willing to give up the comfort of a large bank job and jump into a bio medical start up and pursue her passion?”.
Opportunities exist but to make the most of it, you have to sift through the messy insides of your shifting priorities and needs and most often, make decisions that will put you out of your comfort zone! To all young people out there, world is truly an oyster and as Rumi says “How could you reach the pearl by only looking at the sea? If you seek the pearl, be a diver”. Dive within! You may not always have a clear idea about how to make choices in life but you must have a vision.