My last blogpost on the Australian dream garnered a huge interest – and lots of readership. I am surprised, and also embarrassed, because my post was only a review of an article by another blogger, Karma Choden. It was a short article. Nevertheless, what I concluded from that piece is that there is a real hunger for more such articles from me. 😜😜😜
Well, jokes aside, of course, everyone wants to do well and get some sense of fulfilment out of one’s life. Therefore, let me share some tips here – assuming that I have a “successful” life. Of course, I did few fun stuffs and so it has been a fulfilling one as far as I am concerned. But note that these tips may not take you to your Holy Grail. They worked for me. You will have to decide what works for you. If they aren’t useful, skip this post or swipe back to your smartphone.
I have been to Australia but have not lived there. So I can’t write more on the life out there. All I can say is the Australia is not the only answer if you are seeking the much-needed break into some meaningful life.
My approach is, when in doubt, you step back and ponder hard on what you really want; find your life’s purpose and greater meanings; and prepare well – and then eventually pounce. This will definitely spice up your life, to say the least – and may be lead you to some success too. So Ponder your Purpose, Prepare and Pounce. This is the strategy.
Ponder. What do you really want to be?
Whether you are a teacher in a remote school, an engineer in Thimphu, or freshly out of school/college or still a student – whatever you are, you must take time to reflect every now and then – even if the going is good. What do you really want to be? What is that you can do more? What is changing around you? Agreed that you have a job or a degree. That’s the mistake we make. Our job or education is a means and not an end. Meaning, your job or your degree is a platform for you to something greater in life. For example, let’s say you are a teacher (sorry, I have a soft corner for teachers), don’t you want to be a better teacher? A real good teacher and specialised in one subject? Do you want to upgrade? Or do you want to leave teaching and be something else? If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, you should decide what is that you want.
In this world that is travelling at 3G speed, you also need to watch out for changes around you that might affect you – directly or indirectly. Don’t be a sitting duck. Move, if you must.
Now this is difficult, I know. Here is what I do. I fast-forward my life and think, “If I am dead and gone into bardo, what would be one thing that I regret not doing, looking back?” If there is something I have left undone, I do that now, while I am still alive. The bold idea of bringing TV to Bhutan happened that way. The crazy idea to go back to school for PhD in another field at 50, as Thais say, same same. Isn’t that simple? I also use another technique. When a place really bugs me and I can’t do anything about it, I look around and ask myself, “Is this a message from the universe to move on? That your time is up?” Quitting BBS happened in that fashion.
If you are happy where you are, stay! But do the same things better. That’s called innovation.
Purpose? Believe in something
These days one phrase we hear from our aspiring politicians is “serve the tsawa sum”. Fine, but how? Obviously, they can’t solve all the problems. Their time is limited. Which one would they be taking on? Unemployment? Climate change? The rising national debt? Economic self-reliance? Public service delivery? Emerging social issues? Like the politicians, your time here is also limited. So you can’t be generic. Don’t procrastinate.
One way of looking at success is that people look up to you, accept you, believe in you, right? How do you achieve that? Well, you need to find your passion or give meaning to your own life or be in service of others – or do all three. I believe as milay rimpoche, we are all born for a purpose. Find that purpose and live by it with conviction and consistency. Be genuine – like Tashi Namgay of Kidney Foundation and Tsewang Tenzin of Chithuen Phenday – or be passionate like our Thrash Guy, Karma Yonten of Greener Ways. You can also turn your opinions and frustrations into actions like how Passu Passang Tshering did. The Chablop (Toilet Master) of Bhutan was upset to see dirty toilets everywhere. Or share simply what you have discovered and your ideas like Dumcho Wangdi. Unless you believe in yourself, no one will. Do not fear haters and cynics. We care so much about what others would say that we forget to live our own life. They will always be there – no matter what you do. Even Gautama Buddha was challenged. Gandhi was even shot dead. So what are you? Bigger than Buddha? Greater than Gandhi? There will be discerning advices. There will be pressure for you to stop. You will be laughed at. But you should be persevere and believe in yourself. In the 1990s, people derided my proposal to bring TV to Bhutan. I was even threatened. When I became a documentary producer, some of my own colleagues at work back-stabbed me from all angles. When I started social works in Athang Rukha people were suspicious. Now, my works in middle-path communication is being ridiculed by some back home. What do you do? Give up? Well, that’s exactly what your cynics want you to do. Instead, you shift your gear, work harder, go faster, refine your ideas better.
You could be also living a purposeful life already. In that case, keep going. But once in a while, ponder. No dikpey-attitude, please.
Prepare. Find your nest
Once you have decided what you want to be, start immediately – but start small. First, specialise. Focus. Be different. Nobody has become famous or successful by doing the same things and by being like others.
Second, prepare in silence and with patience. Don’t shout on the social media. If you are trying for scholarships, prepare. If you are competing for a higher post or a job opening, prepare by researching on what it takes to do that job well. If you are planning to move from school to university, prepare by studying more. If you are planning a career in football or films, prepare by practicing hard.
For example, six months before I left BBS, I started preparing. I got a trip to Singapore and I took the opportunity to buy filmmaking equipment. I started refurbishing a room in my house as my office. I started pitching story ideas and projects. I started writing scripts and honed my skills in editing. Then one fine day in 2005 I proudly dropped my resignation. Everyone thought I resigned suddenly. I didn’t.
Lastly, everything takes time and patience. When I was teaching in Sherubtse in 2013, I noticed a guy, who was very passionate about filmmaking. So that year we organised the first film festival there and got our filmy people over from Thimphu to encourage students like him. That boy’s name is Tashi P Dorji. This year he just won the Best Actor Award at the National Film Festival. It took Tashi five years.
You also have to experiment. Try new things. Chencho Gyeltshen, the footballer, is one name that comes to my mind when I say experimenting. Our chance encounter in 2015 is detailed in my blog. Chencho was actually doing Taekwondo and picked up football quite late. So while you keep doing what you are doing, pick something and try out. You never know. Tashi completed his studies and became an actor. Chencho switched to football and he has now conquered the Indian soil. If you don’t like something, move to the next. If you find something exciting, don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone. You can’t guess how many things I tried and failed. But you will ultimately find your call.
BUT, do not be so overwhelmed with what you are doing now (like many civil servants) or think that you are absolutely indispensable. Time will pass. You will be old soon. New people will replace you. So while you are there, there is always some space for you to do more. If you are a forester, you can become a cypress or agar-wood expert. If you own a restaurant go beyond selling junk noodles. If you are in agriculture, get some sticky rice to Bhutan (because I love it). If you are a vet, let’s breed some beautiful riding horses or Yak dogs.
Finally, do not wait for everything to be ready. We are Bhutanese – not Japanese. We are never ready. When you are more than 60 percent sure, just pounce!
So, Ponder your Purpose, Prepare and Pounce.
And while you wait for things to change, keep smiling, keep shining. Most probably the world will smile and shine back on you because no matter what, there is always something to appreciate for what you are and what you have – already.