Sunday, 17 May 2015

Thoughts on leading a template life

Have you ever thought about how your life is panning out and developing? If you have, you're most likely at the stage of bridging towards the self actualization phase under Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is what I would like to term as a first world problem.

The truth is being able to actually entertain such thoughts on a regular basis means you actually are in a pretty decent position right now. You have the basic necessities fulfilled and are looking towards self fulfillment and really building a life worth living. I met a couple of banker friends for a round of drinks this week, and most of them were lamenting that now they had some sort of free time given the crappy markets and their even worse pipeline, they were really bored with their current lifestyles. Putting the unpredictability of banking aside, where you won't know what you'll be doing on nights and weekends, they mentioned the predictability of leading a typical existence, AKA living life according to a template. 

The typical template of a seemingly well heeled life in the corporate system typically starts when individuals are mere tadpoles, with life milestones put in place via societal and inter-generational expectations through scoring well in nationwide examinations, getting into the best schools and colleges, getting lucky and obtaining offers for internships / full time positions, and then starting corporate life with much enthusiasm and vigor, only to realise what's next. 

For most of my friends, they then fall in love, purchase their first property and before you know it, some kids are popping out and then it's groundhog day everyday. And you know what, most of my friends are actually "resigned" to experience life like this, and I can totally understand why. From well meaning relatives, and expectations that are both subconsciously and consciously imposed on us by society, it seems like the perfectly normal response to follow the herd. 

Though I would question if life is really worth living by through the motions via following the herd instead of pushing for what makes you really happy. The more dangerous, unpredictable and insecure path of padding through the snow as a lone wolf, living life in a contrarian, unconventional, and exciting manner. The way I see it, you get to be proficient at what you do after 7 to 10 years of doing so with deliberate practice, assuming a typical 40 hours a week based on the notion that you'll become an expert with 10,000 hours of practice. 

So if you live till 80 years old, that means you get about 6 chances to reinvent yourself, to build different facets of your personality and character. Doesn't that excite you, to know that your current job is only a small part of the grand scheme of your life, and no matter how exciting or tiresome it is, you'll eventually move on to more fulfilling experiences? Ultimately, life is all about choices, with some choices mattering more than others.So start making those choices that will yield dividends in the future, with the knowledge that you are the sole captain of your ship and the master of your fate. You can choose what kind of life you can live, and it is your responsibility to take charge of that. Yes you can be a MMA wrestler by night and a equities trader by day. You can be an investment banker and a triathlete. You can be an accountant and a adventure racer. 

Beware of the pitfalls that might throw your scheme into disarray though. These pitfalls typically include revolve around you providing a form of commitment that you aren't ready for, be it on an emotional or financial commitment. I.E. kids, mortgage etc. But the most commonly overlooked pitfall would be to live life in the past or in the future, and not being in the present. I feel that focusing on the present, and being mindful in an objective manner in observing present reality, is perhaps the only way to save us from swinging between the cycles of unhappiness and happiness, and to experience everything with the knowledge that regardless of our preferential bias, it is impermanent. The moment we avert or crave something, someone, or a particular sensation, we are left feeling anxious about the situation internally. 

That last paragraph of prose might run contrary to what I've been saying about the exciting future one can have, but if you do read more in depth, living in the present moment would have more of an impact on how your future pans out, as you become more aware of what you do on a day to day basis and the impact that has going forward. Think about it. 

Oh the decisions we make. And the choices we have. How exciting it is, to live, to experience, and to strive forward. Carpe diem and may you find happiness in life :) 

1 comment:

  1. 10,000 hours is min to be proficient at something according to malcolm gladwell. Many more to be a master at it. And only be continuing at it can you stay at the very top. Because things change.