The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has a very interesting sentence — “People are capable at any time in their lives of doing what they dream of”. The world wouldn’t have become what it is if it wasn’t for pioneers who worked on the courage of their conviction, giving up financial security in the bargain.
Giving up well-paying, lucrative careers may not be as easy as it sounds, but the corporate world and tinsel town abound with examples of people who gave up money-spinning jobs to pursue a career doing what they loved. Soha Ali Khan quit a great, secure job with Citibank to turn full-time actress. Cricketing legend Kapil Dev comes from a family with a prosperous timber business. Dr Sriram Lagoo, the well-known thespian, is a qualified doctor and so was Jabbar Patel, eminent theatre and film director. Pt Ajay Pohankar, classical singer par excellence is an engineer by conventional education. With an Honours Degree in Economics and Masters Degree in Mass Communication, Shahrukh Khan would have ended up being just another high-flying corporate ad executive. He chucked it all for his love of acting to become one of India’s biggest superstars.
What is important? Job satisfaction or money?
The examples cited above are all people who effectively managed to answer one of life’s eternal conundrums: What is more important — job satisfaction or money?
Think about it this way – we typically work from the age of 22 until retirement at around 58 or 60 years. We spend an average of five days a week, eight hours a day [and that’s a conservative estimate!] working. All in all, it makes up quite a significant part of one’s life. Obviously, when we are talking about 40-odd years of working, the drudgery of being forced to do something when you would rather be doing something else can be killing.
Dr Anjali Chhabria, well-known psychiatrist and psychotherapist, endorses this view. She regularly counsels patients who suffer from depression because they pursued a career at the cost of doing something they were deeply passionate about. Eventually, they feel a sense of dissatisfaction, cynicism and dejection. Living becomes a strain and the fear of doing anything new sets in. They tend to blame others for not being able to follow their dreams, causing emotional distress and strain in relationships.
There may be a way
Fortunately, a solution can still be worked out, by integrating both career and passion and finding a middle path, where the person can pay due attention to both – job and passion.
Dr Chhabria cites Dr Tushar Shah as an example. A well-known physician, he has an innate talent for comedy. He gives his flair an outlet by participating regularly in several stand-up comedy shows on television, the Great Indian Laughter Challenge being the most recent one, where he was a finalist. There is, sometimes, a delicate balance to be struck between job satisfaction and financial security. Jyoti Matange, music teacher, gave up a promising career in playback singing because of financial constraints and the pressure of raising two children. She had to take up work as a teacher and turn homemaker. She admits to feeling a twinge of regret now, when she is often complimented for her beautiful voice. With financial security finally coming through and her children grown up, she is making amends now by dedicating herself to music full-time.
A logical viewpoint, because that little voice in your head that says “I wish I had.” is worse than the tough time and struggle faced while trying to pursue your passion. Waiting till retirement or when financial liabilities are over may be too late.
Keep this in mind
Of course, giving up money and the security is tough. With increasingly hectic lifestyles and the prevalent mall culture, spending habits are on an upswing and supporting such lifestyles is pricey. Particularly, people with dependants find it tough to provide well for their families without the financial security that a job provides.
Sarath Babu, entrepreneur and owner of Foodking Catering Services Pvt Ltd, has a word of advice here. People trying to make the switch should try and save money to be able to provide for the basic necessities for self and family for a period of at least two years, because it often takes that long to get established in the new profession.
A couple of years may have to be spent frugally, but at the end, it will be worth the effort.
Follow Your Heart, says Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1989 and joined the Indian Revenue Service in 1992. Realising the depth of corruption in the government due to lack of transparency, he soon started crusading against corruption. Finally, he resigned from his official post and devoted himself fulltime to Parivartan, a people’s movement for transparency and accountability in government, which he founded. Actively campaigning for the Right to Information Act, his efforts came to fruition when the Act was passed in 2005. He was awarded the Satyendra Dubey award in 2005 followed by the Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership Award in 2006. He was also named the 2006 CNN IBN Indian of the Year in Public Service.
He made an important decision to leave his job, when staying put could have helped him rise the ranks and also made him financially secure.
Here is his opinion about it.
As an officer with the IRS, your job was both prestigious and well-paying. What made you give it up and devote yourself fulltime to Parivartan?
Arvind Kejriwal: The decision to give up service came through a long process of personal evolution. During my service with the IRS, I felt a strong sense of repulsion and helplessness towards the rampant corruption in government. The pursuit of a solution to the problem led to establishing Parivartan.
How did you handle the financial aspect of quitting a financiallysecure job?
Arvind Kejriwal: I did face the usual pangs of apprehension and insecurity when I finally quit. I took study leave for a couple of years and then, extraordinary leave.A friend supported me for a year. There was a time when we did not have money to even pay the employees at Parivartan. However, financial resources came in the form of fellowships from several organisations. Through the years, I have realised that if one works with complete sincerity and dedication, especially to serve a cause that benefits society at large, society also lends a helping hand.
How do you feel now? Has it been worth all the efforts? Would you advice others to go ahead and take the risk?
Arvind Kejriwal: Personally, there is a profound sense of satisfaction. I am very happy the way I am. It is all a matter of personal choice. People need to decide what they want to do and how they want to lead their lives. There is a huge responsibility that we have towards society, which we can fulfill only if we realise that a life spent with the sole purpose of earning money is a life wasted.
What is your advice to people who want to pursue their passion?
Arvind Kejriwal: Work fearlessly with sincerity and dedication. Your hard work will definitely bring results and financial resources will also come in gradually.