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11 April 2013

Need for 'Clarity of Purpose' in life...

You know what is the most important problem in life?

The most important problem is that we will know what is good for us only after the opportunity has passed. 

Too many people take current decisions based on past experiences, without basing the same on expected future. Even when considering past experiences, the focus in always on what went wrong in the past. What happened in the past is hardly relevant to the current decision, but most of us use that as a guiding post in making our decisions.

If not based on the past, our current decisions are based on the current problems, what is known as 'Recency Effect'. 

If at all we consider the future, it is only to consider the expected challenges in the future.

Add to it is the fact that many of us do not know what they want, what is our purpose in life.

By using the negative experiences in the past, the current challenges (which appear huge), by always considering the negative aspects of future and without a clear purpose to give us direction  to our life, it is no wonder that we end up making wrong decisions, with significant long term consequences.

It will be a surprise if we can make right decisions with so many 'Overheads'. 

It is sad.

Take for example the case of Rohit. He is a friend of mine. He was one of the early implementers of ERP in India. He was implementing ERP in the late 90's and early 2000s. In 2001, he got an offer to implement ERP in one of the African Countries (I think it was for a Nigerian Oil Company). The compensation was a whopping 1700 Pound a day plus all expenses covered. This works out to about 2 lakh Rupees a day !!

It was huge.

But Rohit did not take the offer. As he told me, at that time he had got married to a colleague and his wife had reservations about going to Nigeria. She was also working in the same company as Rohit and she did not want to disrupt her career. Also, he read in papers that there was internecine violence in Nigeria, even though he was assured full Security and the area where he was suppose to be working was not Violent.

Also, Africa was not very sexy. All his colleagues were going to exotic places like US, Europe, UK etc and he was hesitant to go to Africa. He was not sure if he will get the same facilities in Africa that he was accustomed to.

Having missed this great opportunity, his career went on a limbo. Let me modify this statement. Having carried this paradigm of decision making, his career went into a limbo. His company gave him the option to choose the country that he wanted to work. He declined the offer and said that he wanted to work only in India. His company did not have any opportunity for his skills in India. He left the company soon after. As he moved around from one company to another, only the constant that he carried with him was the paradigm of always looking back and regretting the various decisions that he made in life. 

When you talk to him, the predominant theme is that of regret. He regrets that he did not take the Africa offer. He regrets that he did not go to US or Europe when his boss gave him the opportunity. He regrets that his career is in a limbo. He is always carrying his regret along with him.

It is obvious that he has the requisite knowledge and expertise. But it is also very clear that he has lost his Mojo.

Take the case of another of my friends, Sunder.

He is expert in a niche technology which is very useful for many organizations. In 2007, he got an opportunity to work in Australia at a rate of 700 USD per day plus all expenses taken care. He declined the offer because he read in papers that Indians were getting killed in Australia !!. 

Why did highly intelligent people like Rohit and Sunder make the wrong choices? Why are they carrying the impact of the choices even now, after almost a decade? Why were they focusing on non-relevant parameters while making critical decisions?

More importantly, what do they do now? What do WE do in such situations?? How do we make good career decisions?

In my opinion, there are three aspects to consider.

First, it is very important to know what we want and what is important to us. What is important? Career, Family, Money, Recognition? We have to decide. It should be the peg around which our decisions should be based. If we have a strong base, our decisions will not go wrong.

Second, do not be afraid of the future. Fear of future (euphemistically called 'Risk') is always based on the past experiences and / or current experiences. Rephrase 'Risk' as 'Future Experience'. If we do that mental paradigm shift and start calling Risk as 'Future Experiences', our perspective will change. We will start thinking about future far more positively and as an opportunity to mold. After all, we cannot control our past experiences, but our future experiences are always under our control. Considering 'Risk' as 'Future Experiences  will give us a sense of control on our life. We may not be able to control 'Risk' (because it is perceived as external to you), but we can always control our 'Future Experiences' (because the control is internal), can't we?

Third, do not regret. Like I mentioned earlier, we cannot control the past experiences, but we can always control the future experiences. So focus always on what we can control and not on what is uncontrollable. This will make us more positive and we will start inviting positive experiences in life.

So, from this moment, pledge to that 'You will always focus on Future and try to control the future experiences. You will look at past only to take the right lessons'.

All the best.


Arumugam Easwar said...

Most of us are living in the past and go by out past experiences. This post jolts such conditioned minds. Nice write.

Ram said...

Mr.Arumugam, totally agree with you. Most of us live either in the past or in the future, in what is known as 'Psychological Time' as against 'Physical Time'.