Five resolutions of a millennium
(This story originally appeared in February 24, 2020) NEW DELHI: The hero of our story has just found a good job after graduation. He moves to a new city with the thrill of becoming independent. He soon discovers this truth: his life will not be like that of his parents. The success criteria were no longer the same.
First, his work is far from distinctive. He was one of the thousands who joined the firm every year. Managers determined what to do, how and when. Second, I wasn't sure there was room to grow. In addition to the basic communication skills, I wasn't sure there was learning. Third, he felt it was difficult to grow personally along with the work. The hours were long and the social circles limited. There wasn't much time for books, music or walks; or energy for dates and parties. The idea of pursuing higher education is in your mind, but you are not sure if that would be an added value or a waste.
Fourth, the money was good to begin with. But increments are small, and rewards for performance rare. The money was enough to pay rents and utilities, but he wouldn’t have enough if he chose to marry and start a family. His mother insists that buying a house, a car and having some savings in the bank were prerequisites. He wasn’t sure he wanted to take big loans and tie himself down to this city and this job.
Fifth, you are not sure of staying with this employer. Our man is not sure that he will eclipse thousands of companions and move to the top. He is also anxious about what happens to the company, because the world seemed a much riskier place to win. It was not clear what would succeed and what would fail.
He could not get bogged down with all this and let himself be depressed. No one told him that adulthood would be so difficult, but he had to find a way. Each generation calculates what it needs to do and deals with the dynamics as it grows. Our man has made his set of resolutions.
Here they are: First, he would not measure his success by money and aspire to retire as CXO. He would disavow the rat race and chase for material wealth, and instead choose work-life balance. Work shall take only eight hours of his day. He will work with the ethic that his deliverables will be good, timely and to the agreed upon. He would work with the team, without being eager to stick out like a sore thumb to impress.
Second, he would not pursue material possessions as the mark of his status. He would wear comfortable clothes, not expensive, he would not wear much accessories, he would not be a fan of the devices or go crazy about cars. He doesn't care much about the property since he cares about convenience. If being driven by a rented car gives you time to complete calls, read a book and take a quick nap, I would prefer that.
Third, if the bug bites him, he would choose entrepreneurship. He sees his skills as the package that employers pay for and would be willing to move jobs as required. Being able to keep mind space free from anxiety of where his job would take him, means he would be able to pursue ideas. He would give himself a 10-15 year working stint at the most, and then look at an idea that he can launch with a few like-minded friends, or perhaps his partner. That might open the doors to bigger impact, better purpose, and perhaps more money if he succeeds.
Fourth, he would ignore the notions of establishing himself as living in a big city and taking advantage of the opportunity to live and work anywhere. Being able to appreciate nature, live a well-balanced life between work and life, eat healthy food and enjoy the pleasures of physical exercise, and partner with a community whose collective elevation is important to him, are all life goals that He wants to pursue, without waiting for retirement like his parents.
Parents remind him of the old days and his success story, but he is not impressed. They call it the millennium that lost it, but that doesn't bother him in the least.
(The author is president of The Center for and Learning)