I’ve often wondered what makes the art of decision making so hard. It hurts me when I see people taking totally bad decisions in their life and I can’t do anything about it. Most people suck at good decision making and that’s because they base their decisions based on the opinions they hear from people. People who end up taking bad decisions basically don’t have strong opinions or beliefs backed by facts.
Decision making is extremely simple when you know the destination you want to travel to. A lot of people have absolutely no clue what destination they want to aim for. Let me explain this with a simple example.
You are at a Railway station wanting to buy a ticket. You’ve two options-
- You exactly know that you want to travel to Delhi (destination). You are now considering options as to which train to take and what are the most convenient timings. Your decision is now based on facts and figures and there are very little chances that you’ll make a wrong decision.
- You don’t know what your destination is. You basically are traveling because someone else wants you to travel – or you just like to travel. Now you’ll be totally confused about which ticket to buy, what questions to ask to the ticketing guy, how much to spend or ‘basically’ what to do. Since you are confused – every decision would leave you with a fear of making a wrong decision; which in-turns propels you to making a wrong decision.
How Do I Know What Destination To Aim For?
There’s no need to make a big deal of ‘deciding an aim’ in life. You just need a ‘bigger picture’ of how you want to see yourself in life a few years down the line. Imagine the life you’d like to live. This is important because the decisions you’re about to take will directly affect whether you’ll advance towards that lifestyle. For example, few years down the line – do you imagine yourself as a well settled professional in the IT field? If yes, then all your decisions and corresponding actions should be aimed at achieving that goal. Do you see yourself traveling around the world? If yes, then you should chalk out a plan that gives you the maximum chance of achieving that. If your goals are very generic that you want to be ‘rich’ – you will have to determine what actions/decisions you should take today that will push you towards being ‘rich’ and it’d help if you could fine-tune your ‘rich’ definition. If you want to be a dollar millionaire, then probably your IT job won’t really help. It may; but you’ll certainly have to do something more – could be learning new skills, finding a job abroad or whatever. I hope you got the point.
When I graduated, I was totally clueless. At the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to create jobs for people and become an entrepreneur – because if I become a successful business person; I’d live the life I’ve dreamed [ buy a BMW Motorcycle, Travel Around The World, Live In A VERY Posh Flat, Get Invited To Talk At Events, Be Able To Create A Workplace That Doesn’t Suck, Make Difference To People’s Lives, Be Responsible For People’s Success etc.]. All that would only be possible if I could be successful into business. You may tell me that there were other avenues of doing that – maybe by becoming a politician or a sportsperson. But of all those choices, business seemed to be the most exciting option.
But just knowing that you want to get into business and be successful in it isn’t enough. What’s next? In 2003 was the year of recession and our college campus had zero placements. I had to move to Pune to find a job. You may ask – if I wanted to become an entrepreneur why was I even looking for a job? The answer is simple – because I knew NOTHING about business – which business to start and how to start. Luckily, after about a year – I got a job very next to my home (just 10 minutes away). Even though my job was good enough to make me forget my ‘aims’ – I kept on trying my hands at different things – blogging, downloading software and understanding it, local hacking, playing Guitar, table-tennis and so on – all part-time. But that wasn’t taking me anywhere. I figured out that in order to get ideas, I needed to surround myself with people who think about ‘business’ and startups and not just working a$$ off to please bosses in the company. I researched on the Internet and found out that B-School was the right place to be in – because that’s where people talk business.
I then enrolled for CAT coaching – because IIM was the place to be (and ISB was my backup plan). I prepared sincerely for whole year – all part-time and even joined online forums to seek help with studies. Those online communities were the ones that made me understand that if I was to become an entrepreneur eventually, I was going to simply waste money and time on B-School education. By the time, I had already read enough books on entrepreneurship and had read biographies of entrepreneurs.
Those books made me realise that starting a business isn’t very hard thing and by the time the CAT date arrived, I was already working on my idea. I decided to appear to the CAT for the heck of it and was working 5-6 hours part on my part-time venture [a hobby website then]. It gave me immense pleasure to work on it; learning things I’d have never learned on my regular job. The best part – I had very exciting reasons to get up early in the morning, complete my tasks on the job before the schedule and look forward to going back home to work on my hobby, which I thought would become a big venture soon. In fact, this part time venture allowed me to quit my job and live the life on the track I always wanted to travel on.
Now that I’m on the right track – I am excited about achieving the next goals I’ve set for myself. Everything isn’t a bed of roses and there are ups & downs and times when things really look dark; but that’d have been the case no matter what path I had chosen. So it’s all evens out. The good part is that – there’s no ‘cap’ to what I can do and things I can achieve. I know I’d not end up failing because if things don’t work the way I want; I can always go back to the job. But the biggest thing that beats every other thing is that I won’t have ‘regrets’ of not having done what I love doing.
But that’s *my* story. Your story would be different, for sure.
How Your Lifestyle Or Aim In Life Should Be –
Should keep you excited 24×7. Enough said.
It’s Only For The Intelligent People Though
All of the above applies to people who’ve 0.5%+ more intelligence than the average. If you are the ones who go by the decisions taken by others (because you’ll always someone to blame; for all the things that go wrong in your life) – you better stick to your no-plan. I’ve no hopes from you, anyway. But for the smarter lot – the above should help you figure out what to do in life.