Crossroads in Life

There comes a stage in life when you feel that you are living on the edge.  You are in a dilemma to say the least.  It is a stage in life, where you feel you want to move on, stay put or take a step back.  You weigh in all the options and then are still stuck to where you are.  It is almost like you are standing on a soil full of quick sand.  It is a terrible situation to be in, but it is true that most of us go through this in our lives.

If we look back at our personal lives, such situations haunt us.  The first such dilemma I faced in life was when my father was seriously ill with a critical illness and was in the ICU.  He had a renal failure and the doctors told me that he has to be on dialysis every week.   It would cost me quite a bit and that amount was almost what my monthly earnings were at that stage of my life.  The doctors asked me as the eldest son whether I would like to go ahead and put him on dialysis or let him die the natural way.  I was shocked and did not know what step to take.  I had no other sources of income and no other person to support me financially.  I took the plunge that I will go ahead with the dialysis knowling well that I cannot afford it and it may be a painful experience for him as well.   The only reason for this decision is that my heart told me that I should do everything to save my father as I could never ever repay what he had done for me and the rest of our family.

If I move to the work situation, the defining moment was in 1995.  I was working in a public sector undertaking, where I had started my career in 1981.  I had done well all through my career and was promoted almost every three years.  Of course, there were ups and downs during these 14 years.  I got promoted in 1995 and then I decided to resign and pursue my career in the private sector.  At that time, this was considered a high risk decision.  Everyone of my age preferred the government service and next the public sector as the best place to work in.  My seniors advised me against it.  My family members were supportive of my decision.  My friends were curious.  I was not sure whether to take the plunge or not.  I decided to move on and have no regrets of what I did.

I am sure each one of us would have gone through such dilemmas in our lives.  It could be life defining moments or life threatening ones.  Each of us weigh all the options before us and take the best decision.  Sometimes we may be proved right and other times we may be proved wrong.  It is after a period of time, people will pass the judgement and tell you how right you were or how wrong you were.  It is our ability to take both of theses situations in our stride and move on, which may make us successful in life.  We have to take a decision, own it up and move on. We ourselves will not know whether it is right or wrong. As long as we’re are sure that it is the best option before us with all the information at our end, we should just go ahead.

 One needs to listen to everyone, seek the advice of elders and the experts and then own up whatever one thinks is in the best interest of everyone.  It may work out or it may not. It does not matter.  After all life is also like a lottery.  When it clicks, you hit a bonanza and when it does not, you learn to cope with it.  As in the photo above, you sometimes do not know whether the river is taking a right or a left turn.  You realise it only after you have taken the turn and reached your destination.

Let us learn to move on in life.

S Ramesh Shankar

Decisions are contextual

All our decisions in life are contextual.  I have sometimes wondered as to why we feel bad when we need to review a decision we have made sometime in the past in our personal or work life.  In my view, all our decisions are the best we could have made in the circumstances we made them.  As time passes, the context may change or new awareness may come in and we may feel like reviewing our own decision.  Although, we may be convinced that the decision we made may have been right at that time and needs a review now, we are generally reluctant to do so.  The reason for the same in most instances is either our ego or our inability to recognise the change of context.

Let us try to understand the same from two situational contexts in our personal and professional lives. I have experienced this both in my personal and professional lives.  In the personal context, I had bought a house and had decided to settle there post my retirement.  I was staying there for two years and suddenly my wife realised that the house was not Vastu (Indian architectural science) compliant.  I took a stand that we had decided to buy it only a few years back and never in the past considered Vastu as a criteria to buy a house.  I decided not to sell it and buy another house for this purpose.  However, two years down the line, I also read a bit of Vastu and understood the benefits of its compliance and decided to sell it and buy another one.  The context had changed since I was more aware and now I was anyway shifting from Bangalore to Mumbai to change my job so it facilitated my decision easily.

Now let us look at a work situation.  We decided to specify the type of mobile phones and the price limits, which could be allowed for different categories of employees.  As the market environment changed within two years, the models of mobile phones available in the market multiplied and the prices crashed.  While all of us were convinced that our policy on mobile phones was redundant, we were reluctant to review the same since we had taken that decision after a detailed analysis.  It took us some more months and discussions before we reviewed our own decision and agreed it make it more flexible.

These are just two simple examples.  The fact is that all of us take decisions every day.  Our decisions are always based on the best available information and judgement of ours.  As time passes, the context may change and we may become aware of new circumstances and hence we could review our own decisions.  However, we are reluctant more due to our own ego issues, our reluctance to move on and accept the change of circumstances or sometimes “who will bell the cat”attitude.  It’s like a chef not keen to change the temperature of the oven after summer is over and winter sets in.  Even our mothers did not hesitate to do so.

Let us realize that all decisions are contextual and may have an expiry date.

S Ramesh Shankar