Thursday, December 20, 2012

Midlife Crisis: Is This What I Wanted To Do in My Life?

The opportunities, diversity and quick growth which an IT industry provides have pulled many of us to seek a profession in this industry. You're a graduate or post graduate by the age of around 21 or 24. By the age of 31-34, you have sailed through the rough and tough waters of project life cycle for around 10 years, gathering a rich experience in managing the risk, keeping the commitments, interacting with clients, managing team etc. Such a journey would have definitely exposed you to your own strengths and weaknesses and made you aware of your capabilities. On the other hand, during this same journey, you’re well paid, got lucrative opportunities, well connected with people, have travelled across the world and by 31-34 you’re almost settled with Car-Kapada-and- Makaan (Car – Cloth – Shelter), which reflects the economic security you possess. But, in spite of all these things, somewhere, deep inside, there is an unsatisfied soul voicing – “I don’t like this job!”, “Is this what I wanted to do in my life?” reflecting a gradual pile up of the dissatisfaction and frustration over a period of time.

Before dwelling deep into the matter, understand that the same voice is silent while the other basic needs are not met. To make it clearer, say tomorrow, god forbid not, you lose your job!! You'll immediately keep aside all these questions on dissatisfaction and jump start to search for the same job! And this is true for everyone, not only for you.

Every human being fulfils his/her needs in a specific priority. The following simple diagram shows Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, proposed by an American psychologist Abraham Maslow:

Glance through the diagram to get a fair idea of what is happening with in you. Revisiting the problem definition, it is clear that the bottom three levels of needs viz., Physiological, Safety and Love/belonging are quickly fulfilled, particularly in the span of around those 10 years from 21 to 31 or 24 to 34.

The crux of the problem lies at 4th level, the Esteem, which covers – self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, and respect by others. In the job held, the needs of Esteem are also fulfilled, in full or partially. It all depends on whether you like your job or not. If you like your job, then you'll be looking out for expansion and further growth and if not, then you’re struggling here, at this 4th level in your life.

The dissatisfaction or dislike or frustration might have crept in because -

1. It is a monotonous work life and growth opportunities are quite distant (further demotivating – as it takes time to get to next roles as we grow in the career ladder). You might just need a break from this and need to spend time on a different kind of roles and responsibilities (in the same industry or business).

2. It is a monotonous work life and you have lost the touch with the creative and expressive part of your-self. You might just need an out let to express your-self through a hobby.

3. You really don’t like the job or the domain or the industry of the job and want to break free of it and pursue your aspirations. And to put you in abyss, you might not know what your aspirations are!!

Most of the time it is option # 3 of breaking free from the job or job domain or industry which seems to be the true desire of the heart. But, matching to the same count, most of the times this turns out to be a superficial feeling. However, since this also being an inner voice, it can’t be ruled out just like that.
These are soul searching, life changing questions and hence we get struck for long time in getting answers for them. It calls for patience, introspection and exploration. There is no one-fit-for-all solution to this problem as this is quite personal matter.  A gradual change in the routine by picking up the new responsibilities in office, spending time on hobby, joining hobby groups would help in great deal. You can in parallel start noticing the difference in your productivity and the sense of job satisfaction. Also, start noticing, whether you really wanted to break free of this job or job domain or industry or it was just break you wanted or a desire to express yourself (hobby)? But, in spite of all these attempts and exploration, if the inner voice persists, then indeed it is not superficial feeling.

By now, during this journey of exploring yourself, you would have narrowed down the problem definition to option # 3. At this juncture, if you say –“I definitely don’t like the current job, but, I don’t know what to do!”, you still have things to explore within and there are plenty of personality tests available which help you in identifying your innate structure and what kind of jobs are suitable for you.

Remember, a job is not selected just for fulfilling the Esteem needs. It should be fulfilling our Safety and Love/belonging needs at first. As I wrote before - “Say tomorrow, god forbid not - you lose your job!! You'll immediately keep aside all these questions on dissatisfaction and jump start to search for the same job!” So, let us accept the existing job happily and then explore our inner voice with patience. I wish you a very happy journey in this exploration of your-self.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Screaming and Stubborn Child!!

Often, I get to hear this complaint from the parents about their child(particularly of the age group 3-6): "My daughter screams a lot or behaves stubborn when the object of her wish isn't given to her. What to do?". As a parent, I am not exempted from this.
Let us understand the child a bit here: It has a desire or wish. But, I as a parent, am not fulfilling it. So, what can the child do now? Had it been the same situation for me, as an adult, I have many alternates in terms of people and situations, if I don't get my object of wish. I can reach out to someone or take a different path. And I am also aware of the concept of time. But, what alternates and options does the child have in terms of people to reach out to? the approaches it can pick up? Or Is the child even aware of the concept of alternate itself ? No. It is not.
The parents are the only source for anything and everything to the child (Unless its a joint family or there are others at home with whom the child is close to). It can speak and express itself to the parents only and it has no alternate to whom to reach out; it even can't do it by itself (For ex: If it was getting a chocolate from fridge or getting a toy from wardrobe's top section). The only available options for the child are the basic not-moulded, emotional sources like screaming or shouting or behaving stubbornly. If we even close this, where should the pent up frustration, anger, disappointments of having not got the object should go? That is really emotionally unhealthy for the child.

If you don't want your child to express its frustration, anger, disappointments through shouting, screaming and behaving then teach it the alternates. The first thing we have to do as a parent is to listen to the child. Make him or her feel that its requests are heard. And whenever the request is not inappropriate either w.r.t the timing or safely, try to fulfill it. But, when it can't be fulfilled 'coz of one or the other good reason, try to explain to child the reasons, in its own language. And very importantly, stick to your decision once said. (This point of sticking to decision is open for debate. Will write about it in a different article). The chances are that the child might "reduce" the instances of screaming or shouting or behaving stubbornly as it feels heard and addressed, repeatedly. The trust starts building in it.

However, note that - these shouting, screaming and stubborn behavior will not be eliminated completely.
Often the questions like - Had I given it(the object) or not to my child or Had I slapped him or not does arise. There is nothing as PERFECT PARENTING. As a parent, I am also human being and made up of many flaws, own inauthenticities, fears, joys, confidence etc. There is no fixed rule which says, if I do x,y and z then it is correct parenting else it is not. So, whichever way you feel appropriate to the moment, go ahead with it.
And very importantly, notice that - On the other hand, its a good sign in the child that its strongly behind the object of its wish. This shows the strong will of the child.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

FEAR - I am OK with it

Because of the several reasons, we often hide(from outer world and also from our own self) many a emotions and feelings in us. One such feeling is 'fear', which is often loathed. Usually, when it appears, we immediately detests it.
Being a human, getting scared, feeling the fear is natural.It proves to me that I am a human being and not a brutal animal, a psycho or an imbalanced person.
There are different varieties of fear which are borne within us. These can be put into three categories:
1. Really contextual and are not hampering our day-to-day life.
2. Really contextual and are hampering our day-to-day life.
3. Hidden cause due to some past experience, which is even out of our consciousness.

Here I am mainly addressing the fears of type #1 and #2.

1. Really contextual and are not hampering our day-to-day life:  Let me get into an example directly. Recently, I relocated to London. I didn't had an apartment to stay, no bank account; The system and people are new to me, have to run around with my passport everywhere(you know how dangerous it is to lose it), its winter here and not many people are outside. Logically, I needn't to worry for all these things as I was on my company's deputation. Company would take care of me, if in case anything goes wrong. Moreover, there are many Indians over here. And hence, I do have a security built around me. In spite of all these, like a new born baby, though in safe hands, I did get scared, I felt the fear.
Now, if we analyse this scenario, isn't this natural for me, as a human being, as a social animal to feel this fear? Had there been someone else in my place, won't he/she would have felt the same? I am sure, he/she would have.  Moreover, it also confirmed me that I am psychologically healthy. Neither did I act much on it, nor did I try to reason it out to myself.  I just accepted it and left it. And the fear didn't disturb me anymore, though its still with me.
So, just accepting it as-it-is removed the grip of fear over me.

2. Really contextual and are hampering our day-to-day life: Just accepting the fear and leaving it as it is doesn't work ALWAYS. Many a times, the fear imbalances our life and hampers the day-to-day life. Such a kind of fear definitely have to be worked out or addressed.
Usually, we fear something over which we don't have control  - it can be some person, some event. For ex: losing the passport, becoming victim of a disaster and losing a body part, property etc., interview, exam, competition, answering my manager. One simple solution for such a fear is: UNDERSTANDING the CONSEQUENCES of the event, of which we are scared of, would release the grip of the fear upon us.
Let us consider an ex: I am having exams tomorrow and I am scared, though I have prepared. What are the CONSEQUENCES: First of all, I have prepared well. Say, I have covered 80% of syllabus and couldn't read 20%.
If the questions are from the 80% of the syllabus, I am confident that I can answer. If the questions are from the 20% of the syllabus, then I might not be able to answer all. However, logically, not all the questions would be from 20% of the syllabus. There may be some portion of questions from the 80% of syllabus too. So, I might not be able to score 90/100, but, should be able to make it up to 60 to 65/100. And if I get 60 or 65, I might lose my overall score and go down in ranking. 'coz of this, I might miss out some good college or interview options and so-on; ( Understandably, it is not in this last moment should I be worried of ranking and losing of job/good college opportunities. These should have come back quite earlier. )
In the above example, I moved from the state of - "How will be tomorrows exam paper be?" to "X, Y, Z possibly would happen in tomorrow's exam paper". The CONSEQUENCES are pretty clear to me. The movement from "How will" to "X,Y,Z possibly would" have  moved the whole thoughts in me from "uncertainty, unknown" to "most probable, known" things. Expecting certainty, a secure feeling, is fundamental to a human being's psychological formation and that's where I have moved my fears to. The fear still persists in me. But, it has lost the strong grip on me and has stopped hampering my day-to-day life. The awareness of the probable consequences, have made me accept it. I feel - I am OK with the fear.

3. Hidden cause due to some past experience, which is even out of our consciousness: There are varieties of these fears and this in itself is a big subject. When the fear which we are feeling is way out of balance w.r.t the reason for which we are feeling then it is surely due to some hidden cause of past experience. Consider the previous example of being in a new place. If I can't consume food, can't sleep, get quite nervous to just go out and meet some one, 'coz I am in a new place then it is an indicator of fear being quite out of balance. Or in the case of exam, if I feel like committing suicide or start getting fever or feeling sick then it also is an indicator of fear being out of balance and control. These things would need to be addressed from an experience counselor.

Are there any fears you're facing  and are working on? Would you mind sharing with me or over here? Did the solution proposed here works out?
Appreciate your thoughts and comments.