Hold on; let me assure you this is not going to be “that” kind of article. One of the most inspirational speeches, personally speaking, was the Oscar receipt speech of Matthew McConaughey, the interstellar actor. He said, “You see, every day, and every week, and every month, and every year of my life, my hero is always me ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to obtain that and that’s fine with me because it keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.” He eloquently put focus on “the self” instead of external motivation every time.
Focusing on the self-growth and competing with oneself instead of others is a welcome change in the mindset of many. Many want to be a “better person than yesterday”. Of course, the definition of what makes them “better” usually varies not only from person to person but also from time to time. At the outset of technology, we possess the ability to find our path and pivot at any point in life to a newer path.
I mean, we often we are reading about engineers turning to farming, doctors becoming stock market traders, homemakers to youtube celebrities, c-suite executives being “life coaches”. We have the privilege of information on almost everything that we have a chance, however small/big it is, to succeed in what we put our mind to. It was unfathomable for baby boomers (born 1945-60) and Gen X (1961-80) to work in multiple companies let alone working in multiple fields. This abundance of information fuels the need of people to do something “better”
Infobesity: The gift of modern time
Having said that, what many of us are missing is that it’s been ages since this “abundant info” has morphed into “information overload” (infobesity if you fancy a name for it). We have so many possibilities in front of us that if we are not careful a series of opportunities become a problem of plenty. Human beings are funny species; we simply cannot focus on many things at a time. With a limitation of processing power, infobesity is the last thing we should have. Yet, information swamps us.
“Knowledge” overflow becomes more pain than gain. More than being a distraction, this affects our mental peace. We see 17 yr old mathletes coding for fun. Our friends are all putting their time “to the best of its use”. They are focusing on upskilling, undergoing AI / ML classes. We eventually end up questioning ourselves “what good are we?”
We start getting ahead of ourselves and get overwhelmed. Many of us blindly fall prey to this self-made pressure to do “something” without really knowing what exactly that “thing” is. Inevitably, this conflict manifests itself into stress. We fail to focus on the present and start fretting about the future. The mad rush to make something of ourselves piles misery upon us, slowly building up frustration from within screaming for catharsis.
Moments like these are death pits that we, unfortunately, are facing day-to-day. It becomes essential to have a strong arsenal to overcome this insecurity of “not doing anything with life” With so much going around, we tend to forget the core of who we are as individuals. Instead of charting our own paths, we let ourselves overwhelmed by this torrent of emotional curveballs. We can equip ourselves by understanding few basics:
One of the most underrated aspects of anyone’s life. Each of us has our own life clock. Few are equipped to succeed at 17, few at 75. There is no rule that by 30 you should be a millionaire or by 45 you should retire. Pace your life at your convenience. Think, ruminate and understand yourself and your pace.
Always have a plan. It need not be 100% clear or ironclad. A tentative direction that you would like to traverse. Choose your destination and traverse the path you choose. You don’t necessarily have to fix it for 10 or 15 years ahead. Your goals/destinations can even be something that is a year away.
Life is nothing if not chaos. Always remember there will be a lot of mitigating factors that will throw you off balance. It could be anything – life-threatening accident, falling head over heels for someone earlier than your plan, unexpected pregnancy whatnots. Whenever you feel lost, your plan here acts as “northern star”.
Everyone, everything needs downtime. Don’t rush into life. Take your breaks. Spend time with your family & loved ones, play with your kids, take timely vacations, explore. No one is going to ask you how many days of 17-hour shift did you pull at your pomp. Literally nobody!
Of course, this is neither a cheat sheet nor a solution. We all have our set of problems. Having an understanding of the basic tenets of life will help us in tackling the problems and come up with our own solutions!
With pandemic piling up misery after misery, unseen benefit amidst all this is the excellent opportunity we have to evaluate our priorities. We never even realized before that we value small talks over coffee. We evidently crave fresh air more than the conditioned ones. Office rides amidst traffic are clearly things we miss now. We have a new perspective of importance in life. I am sure many will be willing to take a pay cut to get some of those back. Health, harmony, and normalcy have taken over greed, money, and accolades.
These 18 or so months will always be one of the darkest hours of human beings. We have seen people go through the absolute worst at worst possible times. Living life has become akin to a lottery. At times like these, instead of self-inflicting wounds by creating artificial pressures, it is absolutely fine not to have things figured out. Let us try and live your life at our own pace with gratefulness for everything that we all have.