Signs of extreme careerism

I came across this article that introduced me to the concept of extreme careerism. The thing about extreme careerism is that we may suffer from it but, we may not be aware of it yet. Hence, it’s important to be mindful of it even to recognize the symptoms. The below excerpt from the article explains this concept well.

Marketing and trying to manage other people’s impression of one’s work becomes much more important than the work itself once few people can tell the difference between work that is good enough and work that is better. It happens when people begin to tell you how to manage your appearance rather than your work, e.g. what to wear, what to say, who to talk to, and where to be seen.

 

 

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What if everyone did it?

This question is called Kant’s categorical imperative. We use this theory for things that are convenient for us and not for everything. When it comes to saving money for the future, we usually do not ask this question – what if everyone saved their earnings and not spend at all? We usually take it as a given that everyone spends their money to live in the present and be a consumer.

Since careerism and consumerism go hand in hand, one of the questions I am interested in knowing is what if everyone stopped having careers.

The problem with goal-setting

It’s a new year, and I am sure many of us would have already made our goals and resolutions for the coming year. While we assume goal-setting is right, it has its downsides too.

Whatever goals you arrive at, they are all in some way within the limitations of what you already know, or maybe a little exaggerated versions thereof. Is it not tragic to spend a whole year trying to achieve what you already know? My intention is things that you do not know should happen to you. Things that you have never imagined should enter your life. Only then will your life be truly enriched. What is the point of only doing things that you already know?

There was a time when you could be happy with one dollar. Now for the same happiness, you need a million dollars. That’s called inflation. That’s not enhancement of life. All that you do with life is create inflation. Inflation is neither good for the economy nor for your life. Now you are consciously causing inflation in your life – that is not an intelligent way to go about it. By setting time-bound goals, you may achieve a few things, but it will be of no consequence to the life that you are.

This is no different from how the caveman was, how hunters and gatherers were – “gather as much as you can.” On a material level, it looks different, but fundamentally, it is the same rudimentary thought of accumulating things. Anything that you gather, whether it is your knowledge, your wealth, your relationships, or whatever else, is only of value for the current transactions. If you keep it active, it will facilitate a few things for you. It has social consequence, but it has no life consequence. Instead of setting goals, it is best you find ways to nourish this life that you are. If you are nourishing this life, you only have to measure the growth.

Whatever goals we may set, on some level they are within the limitations of or exaggerated versions of what we already know. To get from where we are to where our goals are, we create tension, and it merely causes an inflation of existing things. The unwanted increase of current things can limit us from experiencing new things in life.

To simply live here goal-less is what a spiritual process is about. That does not mean being lethargic and lax. A spiritual process means to live in intense involvement with what is there right now but with no goal. If you have the courage to sit here in such a way – “Wherever the hell it goes tomorrow is fine with me, but right now I will do my best in whatever I am doing,” you will naturally be spiritual.

Life works best when we throw ourselves into doing things with absolute involvement without bothering what we gain out of it. Goal-setting ruins this element of life as it merely shows the means to an end. We must consider things as an end in itself by being more process-oriented and less goal-oriented.

Instead of setting goals for the whole year, just set this one thing: By the end of the day, you must be a little more joyful, a little more enhanced, a little better. This will not work as a goal – it is better to look at it in retrospect. This is not about you being joyful or peaceful. This is about you being conscious of as many aspects of your life as possible. You will do your best about whatever you are conscious of. Most of the nonsense happens because you are unconscious about so many things.

The real key to effective goal setting lies in developing a vision of how we want our lives to be.  If we would tell ourselves, “My only goal is to live a happier, healthier, more joyful and more loving life” – and actually mean it – we’d find that realizing this goal is as simple as making it the defining vision that guides our lives.  We would no longer need to concern ourselves with incremental, New Year’s Resolution style goals that don’t address our true character.  Instead, we would see our lives naturally moving towards the direction of our visions.

If you’re currently struggling to build your life around the tiny, fractious goals you believe will make you a better person in some way, just stop.  Stop worrying about whether or not the future you want is attainable based on where you are today and instead, set a clear vision for what you’d like your life to be.

That said, here’s another perspective on goal-setting.

Having goals is a pain in the neck.

If you don’t have a goal (a corporate goal, a market share goal, a personal career goal, an athletic goal…) then you can just do your best. You can take what comes. You can reprioritize on a regular basis. If you don’t have a goal, you never have to worry about missing it. If you don’t have a goal you don’t need nearly as many excuses, either.

Not having a goal lets you make a ruckus, or have more fun, or spend time doing what matters right now, which is, after all, the moment in which you are living.

The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run.

It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.

Perception supercedes expression

I came across an interesting article that talked about a yogi’s perspective on marketing. Our education system and the internet has made today’s world the age of expression and not perception. We are enhancing our activities without is trying to improve our capabilities. As a result, we live in a world where confidence rules over clarity.  Our adverts are an example of this.

We have been taught to be too goal-oriented, and consequently, we consider everything as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Goals must be a side effect of the process and not vice-versa. If we become too goal-oriented, our goals are decided by other’s capabilities. Keeping up with the Joneses becomes the norm, hence. We will never think of the other possibilities we could have done. Instead, we merely follow what our neighbors do. Since marketing focuses on people’s wants and not the needs, we had to do ‘marketing.’

Focus is a consequence of involvement

When we are asked to focus on something, we consider focus as an act in itself. That’s why we find it so hard to concentrate on something for a long time. Our social media and smartphone indulgence aren’t helping us either.

But, here is a better strategy to practice concentrationgetting involved. When we are not involved and passively engaged in something we find it hard to concentrate for a long time. However, involvement can make this much easier.

Just like how our actions are a consequence of expression of ourselves and our joy, the focus is a consequence of our involvement.

Rewarding intended behaviors

Rewards and recognitions are a great way to motivate people so they can exhibit the expected behaviors or outcomes we want. The key word here is “expected.” We must be aware of this intended-ness whenever we are being rewarded or recognized for our efforts.

We tend to introspect only when we are not being rewarded or recognized for our efforts. However, it’s equally essential to introspect when we are recognized. We are Pavlovian creatures at the end of the day, and we tend to associate rewards with success.

But, what if we are being rewarded for exhibiting behavior that doesn’t make us better people? Marketers do this all the time. In a consumer society, the more we consume and produce waste, we are being recognized for our wastefulness and mindless consumption by associating these behaviors with us having a higher status in the society. This is an intended outcome to convince people to consume over-produced goods in the market. The result, as we all know, is more stuff going into the landfills, and eventually, affecting the health of our planet.

Rewards and recognition can be tricky when they are not often introspected.

Making our gut smarter

More often than not we keep hearing that “trust your instincts.” While that works sometimes, what is important here is to make our instincts or guts smarter. Then, it makes sense to trust our instincts. So, how can we do this?

The more we practice something, the better we become at doing that thing. Similarly, we need to practice listening to our instincts often enough, so it gets smarter over time. Here are some ways to making our guts brighter:

  1. Practicing in private making a judgment call on something. Blogs are a great way to do this. They are also, free.
  2. Volunteering for a non-profit is another excellent way to do practice making judgments. It’s extremely low risk.
  3. Finding out a peer group to sharing and talking through your instincts so that they are no longer your instincts.