I have been interacting with a lot of you as part of my Initiative Sangtani 1o1, where I allot half an hour of a personal meeting. In this meeting, we discuss your queries about career and life. I am still in the process of answering the initial set of requests, but few themes are emerging. In this post, I want to share one of those. Of course, while doing it, I will maintain the absolute privacy of conversations.
Many of you ask me not ‘how to do something‘ but ‘what to do.’ The questions usually don’t come that direct, but there seems to be a confusion with what you want to achieve in essence. Most of you (like me) want to pursue something, but also several other plans with it. Let me tell you first hand; I have myself done that a lot of time in my life, and I still struggle. But my experience and mistakes have taught me that Plan B is not your friend; it’s a hurdle.
Yes, don’t be surprised. It may be comforting to know that if your current endeavor doesn’t work out, you have something to fall upon. But it’s mostly a distraction, an escape route that doesn’t allow you to be fully dedicated. I know a lot of you may not agree with it.
Let me share one experience from my life with you. When I decided to do Chartered Accountancy (CA) during class 11th, it was considered one of the most challenging courses. But that was the only reason I chose it (that story for another day). In our town, it was famous that if you want to spoil your career, pursue CA. At that time, no one had cleared CA for many years from that town. There were many half CAs roaming around without knowing what to do with their life now. Things are a lot different now.
There was no coaching facility available. How would you have coaching classes in a town where students had stopped picking CA as a career option. On top of that I was a Hindi medium student who wanted to pursue CA in English. There were many more difficulties but my biggest hurdle was to deal with the notion that ‘CA cannot be cleared‘. It was not in my mind but it was all around me.
During the same time, I met a well-established teacher in town. He, being my well-wisher, advised me that I should not pursue CA. He asked me why I want to spoil my life. I should focus on commerce graduation and then try for bank entrance exams. He told me who all were roaming around as half CAs.
I am sure he had all the right intentions, but somehow that conversation didn’t go very well for me. I somehow wondered why someone would discount my abilities without even knowing who I am. That day was a turning point.
I decided I need to clear CA Foundation (Stage 1) at any cost. Even if I leave CA after that, this one stage is a challenge for me. I knew there was no coaching, no good books, and a thousand other hurdles, but I wanted to test my abilities. I had four months and I worked hard as hell. From morning 5 am till night at 11 pm. I lost a sense of time and the surroundings around me. My family was surprised. I had never worked that hard, even for my board exam.
There was no option B, no way I could fail. I was not thinking, what if I fail. I knew I have to clear, that’s it.
To everyone’s surprise, I did clear.
I have never had that kind of dedication and feeling after that, neither for other stages of CA nor for anything else in life. It was a great experience. It didn’t feel like hard work for me. I learned a lot about overcoming difficulties and being innovative given restrictions. I have used those learnings in life but was never able to create that kind of dedication again.
One of my learning was to go with total dedication. You need to burn plan B. You need to know that you don’t have the option to fail.
I will suggest this. First of all, understand what you want. That’s the most challenging part of life. When I talk to you in those meetings, we are mostly exploring that.
Once you figure that out, as a next step, find out your Plan B and burn it. Once you have no escape, you will get it.
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