Monday, September 21, 2009

Life is Strange...

Life is strange. You plan for it. You strategize to get the best out of it. You look ahead and base your current actions on how you want the future to be. You chalk out your career, your personal life, your retirement. And after all of it, life just happens. And you realize how little you are in control of it.

I am a meticulous planner. Very career centric. A control freak. I cannot accept not being in control of things. I have tried to strategize every bit of my life. I have tried to build a career that would fetch me the label of “successful”. That would make my parents proud. I have tried to manage my finances so that I can be secure, and can support my parents if ever they need it, and a future family. I have tried to prioritize things in my personal life to guarantee happiness for those I love and those who love me. I have tried to gain control of my health by making elaborate work out schedules and diet plans (don’t grin, I HAVE done this at one point of time). And inspite of it all, life has just happened. And nothing, absolutely nothing has happened according to how I planned it. Some things have happened for the better, some for the worse. But nothing has happened according to what I had planned.

I always say this. At any point of my life, if I was asked to take 3 guesses about where I would be 5 years down the line, none of those guesses would have included what actually happened 5 years hence. In high school I could have sworn I would be a journalist, or a media person. I turned out an engineer. In engineering college I could have sworn I would be in the electronics industry, I ended up in IT. In my first job, I could have told you I would stick around because I was good at what I did. I left at my peak point and joined business school. In business school I had it clear in my mind that I would be in a management position in IT Delivery in India. I ended up in consulting and business development position in Europe. When I landed in Europe the first time, I promised myself I will not stay beyond a few months, and here I am, in Europe for the past 2 years. On the personal front, I have forgotten the number of times I have been sure whom I am going to end up with. And am with the most improbable of them all. Someone whom I could have sworn was beyond my reach. I was sure that when I reached 30, I would never be thinking of settling down, I am so much of a vagabond. And here I am already craving for a city I can call my own and a more settled life even before I reach 30. I could not have imagined me being bored of booze, girls, clubs, dancing, I thought anyone who didn’t have one leg in the grave, would be interested in these. And here I am thinking that there are so many more ways of enjoying life and having fun than just clubbing. I never thought I would be a traveler. And here I am… having visited 11 countries and still going strong.

To all those who ask the question in interviews, “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now” can I please say that I have given up trying to see myself in the future? For all those who ask me how I am planning my personal life in the next 2-3 years, which country I will be in the future, which job I will be in, can I please say, I have absolutely no idea? Because I tried the planning.. and it doesn’t work, at least for me. I have to quit being a control freak, and start to believe in destiny. No I do not want to stop working smart, and doing the right things. I do not want to stop being dedicated, and honest, because these things will always fetch me positive results in the future. But I do not want to do meticulous planning anymore. I want to make sure I am ready for whatever life gives me. I want to make the right investments. I want to be nice to the people who care for me. And I want to give the right direction to my career. But I do not want to try to control it and plan so much when things anyway have to happen with a mind of their own.
The escalations still continue. I still get approached by multiple recruiting companies who see my profile on LinkedIN, now I have stopped feeling awkward about it. I am looking forward to Durga Puja, it has been ages since I was a part of an Indian festival or a cultural programme. I continue wondering where I will be 2 years down the line, which country, which job role, how close to India will I be…

More to come in this space… after all I promised to be regular with the posts. :)


  1. and you are so far true to ur word...2 posts back to have had such an interesting career graph so far...the live anyone would give an arm and leg for...but maybe since you have traveled so many places you know better how does it feel to be away from our country n ppl...hope u get what u want...

    aah, pretty heavy n philosophical comment na? well I have posted my answers as a comment on my post - my curious mind one...just forgot to mention one thing thr, what kind of a person I am on chat?

    well, I chat with friends who r abroad, so usually very nice with them, but otherwise I love to be sarcastic thr..;) jus

  2. “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”and this is what life is..we plan it..but it never turns up that way..
    no one on this earth is ever satisfied with what he/she has its human we add all the good things in our long term plan which would make us happy..but everything has its saturation level..and once we achieve it we get bored of it..and start planning for something new..
    in my case the things i expect least in my life happens most..
    good one dear!!
    well!!i too am waiting fro my new post...hope to see it soon!

  3. something i can relate too...kal kya hoga kisko pata...though you know i have never planned for never could answer the 5 years, or 2 or 1 year question :)

  4. We never learn, do we? We don't know what's gonna happen to us tomorrow, or even the next minute, and we plan our whole lives as if we control them. God must be chuckling to himself at this point! I, for one, never waste time planning. I just do what I feel is right, in that moment. Doesn't necessarily turn out gr8 everytime, but neither does a planned move. So my funda is to chill! :) Life wont be strange no more!

  5. this is life..
    but i liked this approach of planning..i too try follow it just that in my case there are dreams rather than plans;(

    and a request..this comment style is not very user-friendly..if you can change it to some other style..

  6. ohh, u echo my thoughts! really, planners fall the hardest :P and very truly said, u do end up with the most improbable person in life, u do...
    PS:I wanted to be an engineer, am now a journalist :P

  7. It's all true, Merlin. Security, stability, plans for the future are all basically an illusion. One thing remains constant, and that's our presence within the chain of events.

    We can't predict what is to come, but I can say that like you, I've never been able to accurately determine the future path. I stopped trying long ago, because after many upheavals I realized something: whereas I no longer believed in the certainty of future plans, my belief in my abilities to handle what life had in store for me grew with each upheaval.

    That five year question is a favorite in interviews, and I do think most just map out what sounds good. Past a certain age, most people don't believe in the validity of future plans. They map out a course, and know they have to be flexible.

    My husband last answered that question six years ago in a job interview. Since then I've been told about his answer by several sources, but I'd already heard it from him. Here was his answer to the "Where do you see yourself in five years?":

    "I used to have a very intricate answer to that, with lots of plans behind it. Now I just want to continue to be in a position that challenges me, and where I can work hard. Beyond that? In five years I see myself still being married to my wife, and really, that's the only goal I can't see myself ever altering to fit the circumstances."

    He's now president of that company, by the way, but his answer, as schmaltzy as it might seem, wasn't meant to be sentimental, or even to indicate anything about me. He picked the one thing he was positive to had the power to directly impact through his own efforts.

    I think that's what really changes over time when it comes to future plans. They stop being about circumstances: I want to live here. I want to do this. I wish to go here, and I want to move from there.

    Instead they become more focused on what is at the root of plans anyway: how we want to feel about our lives. When you envisioned being a journalist, you thought it would be the thing you would be good at. The way to professional happiness. But there are a lot of ways to be happy, it turns out.

    That's the cool thing about the unpredictable nature of future events. Yeah, we never know what is coming along the pike to derail us....and we end up happy in ways we never really thought possible too.

    I think our plans for the future stop containing so many specifics, and start to be more about broader goals, like love or feelings of worth, or family.

    I really don't know. I think that as we make plans for what will form our foundations? Our foundations form under us, regardless, and they are so often about people, aren't they?