Daily, I interview people, who do not like their current jobs and want a change. The first thing I do is applaud them for their honesty.
I am a fucking huge fan of the band, Queen, and I was looking forward to the release of their movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. And while it was brilliant to listen to songs like ‘We are the champions’ or ‘Under pressure’, the one song that stood out for me in the entire movie was the comparative low-key song ‘Love of my life’.
There is something special about the words ‘love of my life’. Well to me, the first thought that comes to my mind is the person who means so much to you, that there isn’t anyone who comes even close to how you feel about her. It’s her or no one else! If you had your way, you would spend every minute with her. You kiss the ground she walks on. You will do everything in your power for her. In my humble opinion with ‘Love of my Life’, Freddie Mercury joins Rumi, Shelley and Byron.
So why should I talk about love. For one it’s so much better to talk about love than about its lesser superlatives, ‘like’ and ‘hate’. Love is what makes the world go around. Love gives life meaning. With love we strive for the best and do the impossible. And while this is true for romantic love, it is also relevant to the other forms of love – love for your work.
Had the same high standards of romantic love be extended to people’s work life, we would have 16-hour work days, and no Monday morning blues. Unfortunately, for many, work life is more a ‘Like of my Life’. Pathetic, right?
“I work hard (he works hard) every day of my life”
As I observe this malaise (I call it a malaise), where people are working many years on things they do not love, I have this desire to go up to them and give them a shake. How can adults, very many highly educated, get into situations that are so mind-numbing inane, so meaningless.
If indeed it is a malaise, which I think it is, the crux of the issue has to be looked at – a feeling of not knowing what is wrong. And if you can figure out the issue, which is winning half the battle, the other half is just as daunting. How can you change your life? How can you rebuild for yourself a new life, something that you are passionate about? And what exactly are you passionate about?
“Got no feel, I got no rhythm”
Love your job, hate your job? How will you know. And I think it’s very simple. I have worked many years in corporates across a few countries and I could tell easily where I was in the love-hate scale by asking myself a few questions. Do you wake up Mondays and ask yourself ‘I got no rhythm, Got no feel’?
Do you like your colleagues and manager? Is your potential getting tapped? Are you getting ahead? Are you stressed and miserable everyday? Do you believe in the company? Are you getting paid enough? A few simple questions with a Yes or a No reply are enough to tell you how you rate yourself and where you see yourself heading.
Over and over I get asked. How did you leave your well-paying job and become an entrepreneur? And my answer is always the same. Introspect and research were key in finding my passion. I prepared a lot before I quit my job. I knew what I was going to do and with who even before I quit. The setup work happened while I was in a very demanding day job, but when you are all fired up with a burning passion, you will find the time to work, read and network. 18 hours days become the norm, just because you love what you are doing. My advice would be to not give up your day job, however crap it may be – but work on your passion. Quit only when you know that you have traction.
“Can anybody find me somebody to love?”
Very quickly the next question is about how to find what you love. And Freddie Mercury’s eternal question still holds. Only you can find someone or something to love – you may need a little help, but it has to be you doing the heavy lifting. The answer is very similar to finding romantic love. Either its serendipitous, and you just hit upon the right person, where a single glance is enough to tell you that you have met the person of your dreams (unless you are an insomniac of course). Or, the not so romantic method of networking, getting on dating sites, meeting friends of friends, etc. The first is the nicer way, the second is the workhorse way, and I will ask you to look into both. How does this translate to work and profession? Well, to start with, you have reached midlife, or close to it. By now, you would know what you are good at –biotech, business, HR, networking, music, writing, etc. And it would be good if you are good at more than one. Find the intersect. My friend ,Rajiv Jamkhedkar, about whom I hope to write more at a later time, is good at business, consumer marketing and banking, amongst many other things. He loves travelling too. He found his sweet spot by creating a company to provide financial solutions to mid-level professionals. This gives him the freedom to travel frequently, recently climbing up to the Kanchenjunga base camp. Freedom is important to him – he named his company Azad.
“Everyday (everyday) I try and I try and I try”
Easy – no way. There will be many reasons that you are stuck in the rut. Mortgage loan, kids in school, unsupportive spouse. I have heard them all. And it’s at this time, I pick up on the trick I learnt a few years back. I say with my most understanding voice, ‘Yours is the saddest story I have ever heard’, a line from a book, which when used in the right tone give the listener the feeling that his/her situation is as bad or good as most other people. But the key question I leave them with is what are they doing about it. Are they seeking guidance, networking, reading books? Are they opening up their mind to possibilities? How else will they find their intersection?
Yes, doing what you like doing, and making something out of it – giving it purpose, giving it direction is going to be fucking tough. You will be working every day, very long hours. You will have terrible days and not so terrible days. But you will have wonderful days too. Say when one of your many ideas clicks, and you suddenly see that you know what needs to be done to scale up. Or when a customer writes a glowing review on google. The fanatical pace and the adrenalin will be worth the time you spend. It would be because it’s where your heart is. It’s what you want to do. Long days – Yes. Slog – No
“One day (someday) I’m gonna be free, Lord!”
Objectively speaking, why would anyone want to pull themselves out of their comfortable rut, and then start looking for new things to do. Yes, I know that their current job is a slog, their boss is a maniac, and the commute is terrible. But it pays the bills. Sometimes the small issues of life help in obscuring the bigger and more important stuff. The stuff that you need to think about. Will you keep your job, till you are 40, till you are 50, till you are 60? What after that? Will you have the financial independence to lead a good life. What does a good life even mean? The choice of what you want to do and the initial pain of the possible upheaval is for you to decide.
Unknowingly, after the upheaval and after doing what you like for a while, you will realise… it’s a kind of magic.
“A kind of magic”