There was a time when I was about to graduate from college after having done B.Tech from IIT Kanpur, India and an MBA from Paris and I wondered which career path I should opt for. On one hand, where the private sector with its perks and salaries pulled me towards itself, on the other hand, a burning desire to create some difference in the lives of the so many around me, made my decision making extremely difficult.
As any other person would have done in such a situation, I decided to take advice from anyone and everyone who was more experienced than me and who could possibly tell me what to do. I consulted my seniors, who suggested me to go into Investment Banking, because of the kind of money on offer. I consulted my professors who advised me to venture out into academics and research. My parents and near and dear ones wanted me to prepare for the Civil Services Examination in India.
Opinions came pouring in from all sides and I was left more confused. The entire exercise concerning me receiving opinions from different kinds of people didn’t do much good. I could realize that no one else but I would have to find the answers to all the questions related to my career.
It was then that I decided to prepare a list of careers which I might be interested in and the pros and cons attached to each one of them. The pros and cons were listed based on the facts that I could find about the different careers along with my own perception about the kind of satisfaction I would derive if I were to choose that particular career option.
Much to my surprise, after having listed down all the career options along with the pros and cons, I still wasn’t in a position to decide what would be best for me. If I chose one, the thought that I would lose upon the pros of the other, didn’t let me have a sound sleep at night.
Not learning from others’ experiences, I decided to give a shot at the three most preferred career options myself. I joined a multi-national company with perks that one can only dream about. Though, everything was good about this job, I couldn’t find happiness and satisfaction in what I was doing. After having worked there for a couple of months, I took a decision to quit.
It was time for me to have a go at the second most preferred option. I decided to do some research work on one of my favourite topics from my MBA days, Corporate Governance. I got so involved in doing this research that I ended up publishing an entire book on the same topic. The moment all the formalities for publishing the book got over, I was left with a void in me and I could feel that I wouldn’t be able to do this all my life.
As a result, I decided to turn towards the third most preferred option of freelancing and writing novels (fiction) at the same time. Freelancing provided me with the freedom and independence that I had always craved for and writing, which had been the love of my life since my childhood days, gave me immense pleasure.
Life seemed wonderful. I was finally doing what I wanted to do. But there was this persistent desire to contribute towards nation building. Having experienced and witnessed the inequality prevalent in our society, I aspired to make our society more just and compassionate.
I believe that every citizen has a role to play in the development of one’s own country and I have decided to do my part. In this entire journey of self-exploration, the thing that I learned and which would always remain with me is that no matter how much one earns, no matter how luxurious a life one lives; at the end of the day what matters is satisfaction that you get after doing something good in life and the kind of happiness that only your heart can feel and let you know.
For all those who are reading this right now, my only advice to you is:
You will come across several experts who would give you their own interpretation of success. But you should listen to what your heart says, for only your heart can tell as to what is best for you.
What I can say from my own experience is that working in private sector can give you everything in life that you can possibly associate with luxury and materialistic happiness, but the kind of pleasure you will get to experience if you decide to volunteer in the process of nation building and social development is beyond any other pleasure that you can possibly think of.
Not only does a career in this field gives you the freedom to put your vision and original ideas into action but also provides you with an opportunity to get exposed to the entire project details from its initiation till the end. This ensures that your learning is not limited to just one aspect of the project.
On a professional front, the best part is that you get a chance to work with people from all walks of life, be it a doctor or a social activist/politician and thereby get to hear different opinions and perspectives from different kinds of people, at the same time getting an opportunity to work on variety of projects and assignments, which in turn enables you to derive professional and personal satisfaction.
So, instead of chasing money and all the materialistic possessions of life, I would suggest you to chase your satisfaction.