Sunday, March 14, 2010

So NOT going down without a fight!

I got a bunch of comments saying that the crap we go through is part and parcel of life in the financial services space.... my question is "Why?" Why in God's name is a rotten time in the office considered the norm and a happy work environment something to be envied. Think about it for a moment. We spend at least 10 hours or more of our work day at work or travelling to work. Add in another 6 to 8 hours for sleep and your left with a bare 6 hours to yourself.....
At this rate, when I die and my life flashes before my eyes, I'm going to be stuck looking at a bunch of stock prices if not reliving crappy deals and cranky bosses or worse - clients! I want to see something interesting when my life flashes before my eyes.... my time here ought to have some meaning.... I'm not talking about the 'Monk who sold his Ferrrari' type of interesting, I'm not even being philosophical here. I just want something entertaining to watch in those final minutes. Lets face a few facts here:
1.Life is temporary. Death is absolute. You can choose to call it a journey or a gift or whatever the heck you want to call it, but the fact remains that one fine day we all turn to compost.
2. Although life expectancy is increasing, I'm not seeing that many happy and healthy 80-year olds. Alzheimers, diabetes, cholostrol and a host of other diseases are all waiting in the wings ready to swoop in and make life post 40 perfectly rotten. So you live till 80, but you're miserable post 40, your medical bills are astronomical, you spend a goodish bit of your life bouncing from one type of treatment to another, all of this while you are no longer at your peak earning capacity. Bankruptcy is not something I want to deal with when I'm 80.
3. The current social system that we have created ensures that all through childhood we're spending most of our time studying stuff that we basically never use is later life. We slog for all we're worth to get into the best colleges, then slog to get to the top there beasue that will help us get into the best B-Schools, then we slog it out there too so that we get the requisite grades to get the best jobs, and then we start working and continue slogging there as well. Only to discover that all the hard work we put in getting there matters naught because some new qualification has become fashionable and simply must be done else you risk making yourself unemployable. (by the way, none of this is apparently enough to prevent the spectacular corporate blow ups that keep occuring every few months.)

So lets look at an average lifespan:
0 - 1 - arguably the best year of ones life. Eat, poop, sleep and an occasional gaagaagoogoo and a giggle is all that's expected. Unless you get those hyper parents who expect to life vicariously through their childrens lives and try to get their kids to start talking before they can even walk. Frankly, this is as good as it gets.
1-3 - this is a transition time preparing you for the big bad world involving potty training, learning to talk and walk and - depending on the fanatisism of the respective parents -  other assorted skills.
3-15 - school! evil, underpaid, demotivated, uninspired teachers (I however was rather fortunate to get some really creative teachers whose edicts have remained with me till this day.), bullies, shallow 'friends', dating trouble, curfews, parental issues (heck those were nasty!) and all the other related trials and tribulations of growing up. You're never old enough to be allowed to make your own decisions but you are old enough to be held responsible for a plethora of things (whether or not they are your fault, I might add!) Not that there aren't a whole bunch of good times as well. Some of my fondest memories are from my school days.
15 - 21 - College. Getting in and staying in. Finally getting out from under your parent's thumb's and being able to try out whatever the heck you want to (as long as your grades don't suffer), money is always short but you come up with novel ways of countering that technicality. Fortunately all of us were in the same boat in that aspect. then comes the decision of what to do with your life.... study some more or start working.
21 - 23 - at this stage you are either a lowly intern getting stomped on by all and sundry or you've gotten into a post graduate programme and are dazedly wondering what hit you. Well that too like all else passes.
24 - 30 - you work like a dog to get ahead in the 'business'. you get stressed, cynical, possibly married with a couple of kids (occasionally pressured into it by parents who have their own opinion of what you need which is often diametrically opposite your own opinion), antacids become a part of your staple diet as does carpel tunnel syndrome, excess fat (often known as 'prosperity') and a host of other 'lifestyle' diseases. You have money but are too tired and stressed to enjoy it. Your cell phone and blackberry tend to become extensions of your arms and waking up in the middle of the night in a blind panic for some reason or the other becomes normal.

Carry on like this and post 40 your life is effectively over. Every company wants younger and more aggressive employees, in the mean time you've screwed up your body (which unlike milk teeth, does not get replaced) so now you are more and more dependent on a host of doctors (who by the way tend to treat each new patient as a cross between a new opportunity for exotic medical research and an ATM.)
So, instead of letting this crap get to us, why don't we (pre-40 year olds) sit up and do something about this. Its our lives after all. I mean, I've heard a story about a dealer developing chest pains while executing a deal and his desk head refused point blank to let him leave and go to a hospital until the deal was done! Frankly looking at most of the bosses around, I'm inclined to believe that story.
My point here is - why should I allow this to be done to me, why should any of us lie back and take it? Don't know about you but I plan to start making a difference. If someone's trying to pass off their work or frustrations on me, I'm just going to give it right back to them. To hell with the politics. Its my life and my flash back that needs to be filled in. I also plan to do something interesting every weekend at least. I also think I ought to make time for some sort of violent sport. I feel that would be extremely satisfying. I see myself taking up boxing....or maybe drumming. Hitting things is fun. Well that's my plan.... granted its a work in progress but at least my flash back is going to be entertaining. Wish me luck!