Home Hyderabad Column Life off the grid and grind

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With the New Year, came new goals and aspirations. Many people, all your life, will tell you to follow your dreams, follow your passions. Become an entrepreneur, start something on your own, don’t work for somebody else. All of that is fine if you really have something deep within telling you that you need to start your own restaurant or write your own book, but only if you really can’t shut that voice up. There is a difference between leading the herd and simply wanting to be at the front. And as somebody who worked for 10 years in a very comfortable software management position, travelled the world, and now doing my own thing in writing and comedy, I just want you to think about a few things.

Save your money
Many people quit their jobs after they’ve saved up a few lakhs in the bank, and then go jump into the deep end of the pool. No no no. You have to walk before you can run, and learn to swim before you go into the deep end. My own strategy was to make 30 per cent of my IT salary by writing for a few months in a row, while still keeping my IT job. When I hit a stride, I quit. In fact, the month I quit I made 60 per cent of my IT salary in writing and comedy. And the month after, when I had no IT job, I made four per cent. Get ready.

Admit you like the comforts
Nice hotels. Good food. An office with fancy amenities, and people around you. Oh man, I miss that. Starbucks is cool, but I can’t force myself to get here everyday and spend more on a coffee that a full biryani and kabab at the local restaurant. There are times I was more productive at my part-time job while working at my full-time job. I had the empty conference rooms, the whiteboard, the space to move around.

Schedules were underrated
Time management is even harder when you work for yourself and you’re not stressing yourself to get to an office on time, and I regret not learning this earlier. I used to wake up, gym, quickly eat and get ready, finally putting my office tag on my chest and head out the door. And you know what, I was wide awake, I was alert, I was motivated, I was ready. Now I stumble out of bed, check Facebook, make coffee and waste around for about an hour. When I finally do shower, I’m groggy and a bit full from a breakfast I didn’t need, and I’ve barely walked around at all. The body needs movement to get the brain moving, and while we waste a lot of time in corporate life web surfing and such, we also get stuff done in those one to two hours a day of real work we do.

So this is not an ode to corporate love – but more a word of caution. I don’t plan on going back to the 9 to 5 anytime soon, but it’s okay to be part of a system if you truly enjoy your job and have a stable future ahead with it. As long as you can look at the guy or girl five years your senior and think “that looks awesome”, more power to you.

- Sanjay Manaktala

(Sanjay is a standup comedian who performs all over India. When not performing, he is an IT geek who makes funny videos)

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