Do you know where you are going?

A man on a horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.

Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied,

“I don’t know! Ask the horse!”

This is a Zen story which gives lot of wisdom. It is true with many of us. You can reflect back on your life and look at the decisions that brought you where you are today. Were those decisions made by you or by your circumstances? Many people would be in their current professions due to sheer luck.  It can be argued that at initial career stages not many have the maturity to decide a firm direction. Till a few years back there probably weren’t as many opportunities to decide the career paths either. But decisions made after those initial years should have been your own and not circumstantial. If you still don’t know where you are going in life, you need to look at your horse.

Are you riding the money horse or the circumstances horse? Going where you can make the most money or deciding your course of life based on how much money you are making?

Designing life as per money is never going to give you any peace of mind. It will always lead to a race for more. More than what you got yesterday, more than your neighbours, friends. There will always be a tendency to compare. Instead if you change your outlook and figure out what is important to you in life, you will be in a position to create an oasis of peace within yourself. Once you are able to figure out what is of value to you, you will cease to be a slave of money or circumstances. You will be in a position to guide your horse to the direction that you want to take in your life.

If you look around you, you probably have everything you need. But the wants keep on tugging at you. And the horse turns you to the direction of getting more. To get more in a materialistic world, you spend more of yourself and lose more of what you value.

Write down what kind of life you want to lead. Break it up in smaller components and label them as goals. These goals will be what will lead you to your dream life. If money can help you achieve some of those goals, put the numbers to them. Then design a path to achieve those numbers.

Most people mention the traditional goals of children’s education and retirement when we talk about goals. But aren’t these responsibilities? They are obvious and basic and need to be taken care of. Don’t forget the goals that are not so obvious.

One example could be a goal to spend more time with the family. It could be that your commute leaves you little time to spend at home. So would living close to your work place be a goal for you? If this entails more expense, is there any way you can compensate, rather than looking for a higher paying job? Look at your child’s schooling expense. Are you sending your child to a high end school just because it suits your profile of a high achiever? Would the child be better off being at a decent school close to home which might not be so ‘socially’ in vogue? You can then spend less on the schooling, save money, stay close to workplace and end up spending more time at home. Might sound odd, but think about it!

There could be several other things which are driven by circumstances or money. Taking a closer look will help you change things. It will help you go the way you want to go, not the way your circumstances/money wants to take you.