Cricket test matches teach us the importance of a 2nd innings…. the 1st innings can be a bit of gamble with so many unknowns…. pitch, weather, opposition tactics…… the experience of these conditions, the outcome of the 1st innings and clear goals can help the team plan and execute the 2nd innings to deliver the desired results.
Though our working life is very similar to a test match
The beginning of our career, like the 1st innings of a test match, can be a throw of dice! The organisation we join, the discipline we chose, the supervisor/mentor that we get in the initial stints, the global & national economy will together determine the trajectory of our career. The situation can get additionally complicated as we are often not clear about our life goals………. what we expect from our jobs, the direction in which we would like to steer our life….
It feels like a T-20 game in the early years
Continuing with the Cricket analogy, the initial years of our working life feel like a T20 match. It is a very exciting period, fast paced, many opportunities to show one’s talent & get rewarded. You are on the move all the time, new peaks to conquer, new places to visit, new learning and of course, meeting new people. We enjoy our work, our output makes the world a better place….it gives us meaning, our organization & team give us a sense of belonging and our visiting card gives us a sense of identity.
The Dynamic Sanyas
Ultimately, in many ways, work defines our lives, and time & energy spent with ourselves, our families and our personal passions becomes less and less. Unfortunately, this makes our personalities unidimensional. A thousand years ago, a person in the 25-50 years age bracket was said to be in the Gruhasta ashram… leading a family life, and the person who had fully let go of the family & personal passions was called a Sanyasi. Today, it seems the two roles have got combined. Though married, a typical 25-50 age group corporate employee lives a dynamic sanyasi’s life, with a new name – business executive!
Take a pause- evaluate
Our fast-growing economy, improved life span and personal wellbeing have made a 40-year old’s status significantly better than what it may have been a couple of generations earlier.
For this reason, it is good to take a pause, sometime in the 2nd half of one’s career to re-evaluate life’s personal goals. Ask yourself the following questions
- Am I moving in the right direction?
- Am I investing enough time on my personal passions and family?
- Is my job continuing to give me joy & satisfaction?
- Do I still have a bounce in my step on Monday mornings?
Continue with what you are doing if the answer is a strong yes to each of the above questions. If not, it would be appropriate to start thinking about the 2nd innings!
Second Innings Plan –some practical questions and some actions
- What is that dream life you intuitively feel you want to live? That urge you get every now and then when you want to break away from your present working life.A start-up along with some friends; a small business along with your spouse- a boutique, may be; a consultancy on your own; part or full-time teaching; social work; playing golf; travelling around the world or just settling down in a quiet place and living off your savings?
- Financial independence is a very important consideration in this introspection process. It is important to carefully develop an inflation proof cash flow statement for an expected life span of 90 years, with appropriate lifestyle and adequate healthcare needs factored. Build in scenarios like children’s education & weddings, real estate purchases and contingencies in any new income streams that you are anticipating. Taking shortcuts in this step could lead to compromises and quick disenchantment.
- While the fast-changing business environment, technology and easy & cheap availability of internet bandwidth are throwing up interesting second career opportunities, getting and settling into a new work role is likely to throw many unexpected challenges. One of the first things that busy executives miss is the adrenalin rush, sudden stoppage of emails & phone calls, team support, the corporate trappings…
- Other speed bumps can include delays, having to make compromises & adjustments or even a complete makeover of your business plan. One has to be mentally and, importantly, financially prepared for this.
For many, the 2nd innings will have two phases….one where you are still full of vitality and have the freedom to do many things that you didn’t have time for earlier; and the second where health sadly starts deteriorating. Being aware of these phases and knowing that the clock is ticking will help you to draw out your priorities and develop the right balance.
Even though, you may be a person of action, and work on your “gut feel”, sound decisions are best made gradually, ruminating over different options with the answer slowly becoming apparent. Reach out to your family & friends and leverage your professional network before you freeze your plans and then take gentle first steps before making big commitments.
In summary, working life often provides an opportunity for a second innings. Whether you need one would depend on how well your work is aligned with your priorities. A good way to assess this would be to take time off, at least a few weeks, to think through your lifeline and priorities. For many, the current work life brings great fulfilment, while for others there is far more to life than being successful at work.
A planned second innings could be the prescription that one is looking for!
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