Explorers don’t need a map. They are adventurous. They love taking risk. However, most of us are navigators. For us, life is a journey. And most of us don’t have a map for it. We work with vague sense of direction.
We keep defining the destination and the road that will lead us there. We have untested ideas. We brilliantly follow other’s template; including the professional Institute, we join. We are happy waiting for failure before we take action.
Life is far too complex and fluid for us to have a complete map. We appreciate it and hence enjoy the milestone-to-milestone approach to life.
We are highly adaptive and flexible. Minor aberrations and failures do not affect us. However, we are impacted by society approach of materialistic success. House, car, vacation and lifestyle become a surrogate of status.
Is that the real success? Both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are acceptable answers. What matters is what you have been looking for. It’s your race, your journey, and hence you define and decide the benchmarks.
At the risk of offending a few; I push for the need of a more holistic success, where emotions and relationships are also importance. To appreciate, you must stop measuring success with the lens of a societal telescope and use the internalised microscope to explore what real happiness and success means to you.
Once you buy into this philosophy and approach, you are ready to attempt creating a framework of your MAP. It will be a good indicator to tell whether you are moving in the right direction.
MAP has standard points of references like origin, destination, alternative paths, mode of transport, travel accessories, a compass and identifiable milestones. MAP is a waste unless you know how to read it. Hence I believe the traveller must draw his own MAP.
START. WHERE WE STAND.
The origin is your current status. It is about you. In your map, you are always at the starting point. Your name, age, professional assignment, role is just a factual statement with no fire. It will never do justice to your potential and capabilities, while it may identify you.
It is not easy to deep dive inside and understands self. Are your values and belief system strong enough to withstand a debate? Maybe the best way to make a beginning is to define the five most memorable; not necessarily happy or sad moments of your journey called life. Evaluate your behaviour from a third person’s point of view. Maybe you will not recognize yourself.
The starting coordinate in your map has all the elements that create the inner you and the societal experience in day-to-day interactions. Your knowledge, talent, acquired skill and reflex actions define you. Today is a result of the choices we made. Tomorrow will be the result of the choices we will now make.
Do take a simple test. Answer these questions. What is your stance on gay marriage or love jihad or khap panchayat? Write it down as clearly as possible. Now put a dear one in that situation, does your approach changes? What is your view on cow slaughter or Gau Rakshak? How secular are you? Do you believe that women with short skirt got nothing to do with the increasing cases of sexual offences? Who do you really serve? And to whom do you pray? Does it have a form? Does it have to manifest itself in different ways? What is perfection for you? What is your definition of a good brother, son, mother, daughter, husband and wife? What does success mean to you? Are you prepared for success? What are you willing to sacrifice or pledge to be successful?
These are the framework and position on the grid that defines your Brand-i-MAP.
END. THE DESTINATION.
To start the journey, you need an idea of the destination. There is no guarantee if you ever reach there. Maybe like Christopher, you may discover something new. Note it down; life is about shifting target and values. They change as you evolve, as your needs, desire, ambitions reshape continuously.
You can define the destination in many ways. You could start the journey with a vague hint of direction to take. Remember, you have answered this question many times. Where do you see yourself after 15 years? What is the reason for your existence? What do you want to achieve in this life?
Do you answer in form of designation and materialistic ownership? Do you have another way to define success? Is your life all about earning status by flaunting materialistic items? Is it about making people smile with joy?
Don’t be surprised if the questions stump you for a moment. Most of us (including me) will fail to answers them with complete confidence and honesty. To finish the argument, we are capable of answering. We will defend it knowing it is not the truth. We, can lie to everyone, but not lie to ourselves.
The destination you chase in real life is multidimensional like you. It can be measured across mental, social, emotional, physical, monetary, sexual satisfaction, hunger and desire … and many more dimensions. Our life is all about balancing our numerous roles and emotions, no doubt that the destination is a series of complex equations. An equation that only we can see, solve and resolve. Only if we understand self.
ROUTE . THE PATH WE TAKE.
Even in the physical and metaphysical there are alternative routes to reach the same destination. There are possibilities in every interaction we make. For your life goals, we need to be a bit more cautious in defining the route.
To be a successful entrepreneur, we could take the IIM- earn- invest- plunge route of take the plunge right away. Only time will have the answer, if we succeed as per our definition and yardstick.
The route to success requires clarity, confidence, passion, dedication, flexibility and openness to new ideas.
VEHICLE. MISSION WE RIDE.
Having an MAP and being able to read it is not enough. It shows us the start and the destination, the alternative routes and the chosen path but not the pace.
What defines our pace is the vehicle you ride. A vehicle is the means to reach the destination. We call it vision, or mission in life. And our current co-ordinates, self-awareness defines it. Many of us start with a hint of a vision, and later change it due to circumstances. There is nothing wrong in it. Nevertheless, if we change it too often, it may be better to re-examine our starting points, destination and the chosen route.
BAGGAGE. ACCESSORIES WE CARRY.
The journey is a long one. What come handy are the experience, knowledge, passion, dedication, skills, attitude, aptitude, talent and a fire to keep learning. These are interlinked as comes as part of our upbringing and outlook. It’s tough to be yourself by separating, replacing or modifying them. They are because you are.
In our journey, we pick things, modify and even discard them. We pack according to the journey. Hence, before formally starting, we need to understand the requirements and the things we will need. At times, staying a bit longer at the starting coordinates and acquiring more accessories (knowledge and experience) before embarking on to the journey may be the best choice.
MARKERS. OUR GUIDES.
In our journey, we need markers to help monitor progress. Our achieving them define how true to the path we have been traveling. The journey of life is too long and the far too complex. Moreover, we never have the complete map; we discover the new piece at every milestone. Hence define the journey and break it down in measurable SMART segments, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.
BARRIERS AND FACILITATORS.
The MAP is simple. We can trace the path without any problem. We need to identify our facilitator and barriers. There are speedways and potholes. There are places where bridges need to be created and places where you need to take a detour. No one has really seen the path. No one understands it. Each one of us takes a path that is newly discovered and unique to us. Every experience, failure and success is unique too. There is no one to blame.
WRITE THE STORY.
We must learn to enjoy smallest of happy moments. We must be strong to leave behind bad experiences and move ahead with the learning’s. The journey and the map are unique. Every moment we are writing a new story. The past is gone as I write this. We can’t change the characters, the incidents or the results. However, we have the option of changing the story that is being written with every choice we make for our future. What is the next chapter? It is something that we only can define.