Bring back the mojo

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Bring back the mojo

It happens to most of us. We get bored with routine work. We are unable to complete simple tasks because of the monotony. We begin to ask philosophical questions like, ‘Why am I in this job?’ One thing leads to another and before you know it, you are smoking and drinking, watching too much TV, becoming asocial, and generally adopting an unhealthy lifestyle. The frustration can lead to low level depression. Worse, research conducted by the University College London and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology last year showed that boredom can shorten your life. That’s just another way of saying that trapped in the wrong job, monotony and boredom can kill, isn’t it?

It’s not as if boredom was about to kill Sameer Shisodia (37), co-founder of a mobile search company, but he was slowly losing his mojo. “I bought and drove cars fast, tried eating out as a distraction, and even dabbled in buying gizmos once in while trying to acquire rich tastes and hobbies,” says Sameer, who could see signs of tedium settling into his life.

But his solutions didn’t work. So Sameer decided to do what had kept niggling him. He decided to do something that doesn’t fit in with pre-conceived notions of work and success. He launched a company, Linger, that offers the traveller an authentic experience of the place as it exists. It could become, ironically, a place for people stressed with managing the routine in their lives as the properties are located in places that don’t allow people to do anything other than slow down and enjoy the bounty of nature.

Most people who manage to retrieve their lives from the brink of boredom and ennui have one common observation: they think that the trick lies in stopping yourself from doing what you are up to right now, changing priorities, easing off the sofa, cranking up the momentum and setting off.

“In my experience it is only when I had made the decision to ‘quit’ that doors opened in front of me,” says Rajesh Shah, the social entrepreneur who set up the award-winning Peer Water Exchange (PWX). “So, let’s not be afraid of letting go. Wonderful things can happen only when we let go.”

Rajesh, an IIT grad who later went to Lafayette College, Pennsylvania and received an MS and an MBA from the University of California, worked at Bell Labs in the US for 10 years. Living in the rat race, says the pragmatic Rajesh, did have a few ‘highs’ but did not provide fulfilment.

“Why do I need to create new products and sell them when we really don’t need them? I mean I didn’t want to end up telling my children that I successfully sold a blue phone before which I successfully sold a green phone. Not only is that monotonous and boring, it is irresponsible,” he says. Rajesh decided to break out and put the zing back into his life. He returned to India and set up PWX that tries to solve the water and sanitation crises that impact over 2.6 billion people across the world. In the last  six years, the PWX model has demonstrated it can work in 23 countries. Last year it won the prestigious Intel Environment Award.

Rajesh gave up his job to pursue what he believed brought meaning to life. Now, says Rajesh, he has more time for his children as well as for his passion and to pursue his hobbies. “Friends are envious,” says Rajesh, “but they are not trying to emulate us. In fact, we have found people who have taken the (PWX) experiment further and we are trying to emulate them!”

One of the things that led to change in the life of Heemanshu Ashar (40), director, Design Core, was that he woke up one day to find he had spent very little time with his child (see ‘How I Stopped Fire Fighting, Literally’). Asher says that his corrective action could be termed either “outrageously courageous or extremely stupid”. But that’s the way to go: how else do you take a 180-degree turn away from routine?

But sometimes, you need to take that turn with no particular plan in mind, just faith in yourself. Jishnu Dasgupta (32), an MBA, discovered that with a marketing job at ITC. “I loved the sales and marketing roles, but I wasn’t doing work that excited me,” he says. Jishnu decided to quit corporate life and pursue his love for music. He plays bass in the highly successful folk rock band Swarathma.

Today, Jishnu makes a living almost entirely from music. “To be honest, I didn’t have a plan,” he says. “I needed to find a way to make some money, even if it wasn’t as much as a top post-MBA job would pay. But I pretty much took it one day at a time.”Today he says that there is an absolute joy in introducing himself as a musician to the world.

“Having the time to myself also makes it pretty zingy. Playing with my infant son at 12 noon is about as renewing as anything else,” remarks Jishnu.

The key, of course, is to understand yourself — what floats your boat, what gives you a rush. And then, obsessively follow it. “People do tell me from time to time that they wished they could do something like what I did,” says Jishnu, “but most of my peers don’t seem to know where their passion lies.” There you are: Know where you want to go. Your mojo will follow.

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