So You Wish to Quit the RAT RACE?
Do you know where to begin ?
Are you in a winning position ?
Is the finish line in sight ?
You probably haven’t paid much thought to these questions, and if you have, you certainly do not have a definite answer.
Picture yourself running a 100 meter race, and each time you feel the excitement of surpassing the finish line, the finish line suddenly appears another 100 meters away! See what I mean?
At every stage of our lives, that beautiful finish line has another trophy waiting at the end of it. At first it may be to have a job you love followed by a simple home and basic luxuries to live by. But soon your dream can turn in to the highest paying job with a mansion filled with imported furniture from across the globe.
Dreams and ambitions change over time, thereby pushing your finish line further away, leaving you running on a hamster wheel to eternity. But are you thinking about the important question?
Have you Defined YOUR Needs?
Did you just have a moment of déjà vu realizing the number of times you may have heard the exact same thing, to quit the rat race for a moment in order to truly introspect, only to find yourself running the race again in no time. Sigh!
Am I going against the world and discouraging you from dreaming big?
To paraphrase Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street
Greed is Good, if this greed is for YOUR OWN desires.
My quest is to understand the opportunity cost associated with your big dreams. What are the sacrifices you are making in order to achieve your ambitions? Are those sacrifices worthwhile?
The journey of fulfilling needs begins from childhood, since the day our brain cells are capable of understanding ‘needs’. As a student, we are often taught the need to work hard in order to ascertain a decent job and livelihood. A student trying to learn and understand a basic math equation is more focused on being able to practice that equation so thoroughly that he scores an A, and in the process forget the idea of learning. Isn’t this a part of all cultures? While this is a fundamental flaw in our education system, the opportunity cost is losing the moments of valuable learning.
As we grow older these ‘needs’ grow each day, most often influenced by our environment. We start out with dreams that are personal and unique to our own understanding, only to be altered by what society considers acceptable. You work hard each day, working paycheck to paycheck and slowly building a life of your dreams. Suddenly you see another friend or colleague with something “better” and your life is no longer the same.
The feeling of inadequacy creeps in, and there, you have a new finish line! You now want that “better” thing and until you have it, your mind and heart will not be at peace. You work endlessly, striving to attain your new goal, and the moment you have acquired what seemed “better”, the “BEST” comes along. Welcome Misery!
Did you really hop on the social network to find yourself comparing your life to others or was it simply to ‘keep in touch’? Think hard, and you will find several instances in your life where you felt someone else was living a better life than you. Comparison and competition is not bad – it enhances growth.
However, what use are these comparisons when you can’t cherish what you have and lose the essence of the present moment?
The biggest opportunity cost of the rat race — HAPPINESS!
In order to truly value every accomplishment, and live and cherish each moment of your life, you need to Define YOUR Needs. Whether it is to score the highest on a competitive exam or retire by the age of 40, these should be your YOUR Needs. Every aspect of it must be unique, barring any influences from external forces.
Here’s a starting point :
1. YOUR Short Term Goals
This is what you strive to achieve each day. Whether it is to walk an hour a day or eating healthy or simply waking up with a smile – list down your short term goals. Put that note on the refrigerator if you need a reminder, but continue working hard each day towards your smaller short term goals.
2. YOUR Long Term Goals
It could be your 1 year or 5 year plan, but this is what you always wanted to achieve. Whether it is the next promotion, a new car, marriage or hiking the tallest mountain – ascertain your long term goals are personal to you.
You determine the finish line as well as the trophy!
3. EVALUATE 1 & 2
Life changes everyday, and while life cruises away unnoticeably, your goals too shall change. However, each time your heart is inclined to add a new need, ask yourself the following:
Is this what I truly need ?
Am I doing this only because he/she is doing it ?
Am I only trying to impress others with this ?
What is my opportunity cost ?
If the opportunity cost is your happiness – Think Again!
Defining YOUR Needs will enable a healthy and productive life, offering a feeling of contentment, which is lacking in our everyday lives. True living stems from within, unperturbed by the external.
Each day is a Success when you stop defining your success based on the yardstick provided by society!