Saturday, 13 March 2010

To take the plunge, and when?

OK, this is not about marriage - am yet to find any luck(?) there :)

I feel India is going through a phase where people - however few in number right now, but surely growing - are looking at doing more of what they like than just working for money. It could be working for social good or fun jobs like for example, bar-tending.
This could just be my feeling because I recently quit my job and as a result running into/reading about more of this kind of people. But nevertheless, it is an interesting trend and will do a lot of good for the people, and the country in the long run. People are becoming entrepreneural, taking risks and venturing into areas where the previous generation probably would not have thought of going into or bothered about. We have people leaving their plush/respectable jobs and becoming a Sarpanch in their village, some planning to take up photography full-time (resemblance to 3-idiots is coincidental, I actually know someone who wants to do this), some even wanting to get into movie-making without much to show in their bank accounts (again, someone I know).

So, whether it is for social good or just following your passion (sometimes they could be same); how do you decide when to take the plunge? This is for the vast majority of us who end up in jobs that we not necessarily enjoy. For those others who are already into what they love doing - you are lucky people :)
If one is in the wrong job, we are mostly frustrated - except for some intellectually challenging moments - and always looking forward for something exciting to happen. I used to have this feeling of probably taking away someone else's job.
First is to identify that this is probably not your thing. If you already know what you would rather be doing, it helps. And the sooner you know this the better it is so you can start saving as much as you can from the corporate salaries. It is very important to know what you will be doing next and not leave something just because you dont like it. There are some who just leave their current jobs and take some time off to figure out what they want to do in life - works with some people!

Coming to money, how much money is enough before taking the decision? One of my friends says 'the need will always grow to meet the income', so you will never have enough. I would say it is the 'wants' that grow. So, cut down on the wants and keep needs low. Once you start practising this, you realize how much money one could have saved had you started this earlier. It happens, it has happened to me and it is important to go through it once so we know how it feels.
Talking of needs, most people who have moved out their plush jobs to follow their heart or for social good, are usually near the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They have climbed up the pyramid, some quicker than others by virtue of their upbringing/exposure to influential people, etc. We need to find where we are and how fast we can reach the top.
I like this concept as it answers a lot of questions on why some people behave the way they do.

There could be moments when you are in doubt after taking the plunge - have a support system, talk to friends, family, etc. I am assuming you have already spoken to them before taking the decision :)
I usually think of people who have inspired me - one small piece I read when I need strength is Steve Job's speech on finding what you love doing.

So here's putting it all together:
- find a cause - sometimes the cause finds you. Travelling is a good way of finding one.
- keep needs low and save a lot. Build/buy a small house (easier to clean as well), a small car (if it is a desi car, better, for multiple reasons). These are the 2 biggest liabilities that we get into - until you have kids :), and there are other little things like spending less on fuel, eating out only on special occasions, etc. that we can adopt in our lifestyle which can help save a lot.
- dont forget to get a medical insurance. I am yet to get one! Any recommendations on which is a good medical insurance would help.
- go for it, before the society makes you change your mind :)