Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The fatal combination of happiness and heavy workload

Patxi and the Divine Miss have complained about it - and now it has hit me, too. I have lost my inspiration. I don't feel like writing much anymore. Yes, the sun is shining for most parts, and MBAT is coming up - I need to practice tennis and football, plus I recently joined the Softball team as well. Also, workload right now is a bit crazy. This has been the busiest term so far, against all expectations.

But I think there is more to it. Lucy Kellaway pointed to it in a recent FT column. The name of the column was "Worry, don't be Happy". Her point was that unhappy workers are more productive. I think she is wrong for most professions, but concerning journalists and writers I think it is very true that the happier you are, the less time you want to spend writing.

The peak of my creative powers was probably the first 6 months of this blog, when I was working 16h days and feeling exploited. Then, I started an exciting new life in London while still agonizing about my future path. Right now, it is probably one of the first times in my adult life that everything seems to be going great. I am living where I've always wanted to live with the person I've wanted to live with, doing what I want, looking forward to a summer job that was my first choice, followed by an exchange term at the school I wanted to go to. Things are going great and life is beautiful.

The only topic I am pondering a lot these days, and which kind of keeps me inspired, but about which I haven't reached a conclusion yet, is how this all happened. Why is it that I was in the wrong place doing a job I didn't like before, and now everything is great? Is it just luck? My interpretation is a mixture of becoming "older and wiser" :-), and what Patxi has described in his beautiful post about persistence. I think lots of people when they are young and insecure, they give up very easily and are discouraged very fast. Any adult tells you scary stories, any peer tries to put you down, and you take their word at face value and lower your expectations. After some year, you realize you just have to try harder and harder and things work out.

It may be my lack of inspiration that I need to shamelessly copy paste Patxi's quote here :-), but I just loved this sentence:

And here comes the moral of the story: even though the final score will forever read:
Denials: 7

Acceptances: 1

I still win!

To all of you who keep trying, congratulations!

A lot of unhappiness in life comes from low aspirations and not trying to aim for something better. A lot of my previous unhappiness at university and my first job came from aiming low. I was too afraid of rejection to apply to top universities abroad, and then I was constantly unhappy about being at mediocre universities, and afterwards I really didn't try hard to get a job in something I liked and just took the first offer I had, which I knew from a previous internship I wouldn't like. And then I spent two years feeling sorry for myself. Not exactly a recipe for success! This really the first time in my adult life that I am doing what I wanted to do. On the one hand it is a bit sad that it took me so long to figure it out, but then lots of people never do, so I am grateful to be where I am now. Let's hope and pray that things stay this way, even if it means less inspiration for my blog :-).


Lakshminarasimhan said...

i am 57, indian, chartered accountant, chartered secretary constantly following your honest and sincere writings.
the one u have now written is the best reading i had on your blog and it will really encourage youngsters following your blog.
all the best to you

Forrest Gump said...

pretty cool post. agree to almost everything that's in there. i think the above comment does it well to signify the importance of the post, and the theme (persistence)...

i am hoping that the urge to write will re-appear, and we would to get to hear more of your wonderful thoughts.

Marga said...

Great post! I have been reading your blog, and this is the best post by far. I agree with all what you say. It hapened/happens to me.
Thanks for your blog. It really helps to those of us trying to get into B-school. Very inspirational! So, please don stop writting!

Anonymous said...

hi angel,

i've been reading your blog and other LBS blogs for a few months now. this is the first time i'm leaving a comment. i'm waiting for the dreaded LBS R3 'ding' that i anticipate will arrive in my inbox within 48hrs. that should make it a perfect 5/5 this year (my first). i pondered whether i should have applied to a safety school, but your post reminded me about the other times that i have 'settled' for something and how i felt afterwards. i enjoy reading your blog and hope that letting you know your voice impacts other people will encourage you to continue blogging. i might even be inspired to write about my inevitable reapplication process.


angie said...

thanks for your comments.

Forrest, I think you are one of the greatest examples of my post. Other people in your shoes would have easily given up and spent the next year complaining about how life is unfair. In return, you are about to attend one of the greatest business schools of the world, learning from nobel prize winners.

M, I wish you good luck! I absolutely agree that trying again another year is better than lowering expectations. I remember asking Rusgirl last year why she didn't apply to "easier" schools than LBS, but she refused to lower aspirations and was successful the following year. Then look at Forrest Gump's blog and you will see the same.

What I forgot to say in my post though, and what I found important, is that I don't really believe that one should have unrealistically high aspirations. I think it is important to have high aspirations, but the effort one puts in needs to be commensurate with these aspirations. In the end, it's still very hard work. But I absolutely admire people who work hard for their dream, because nothing can stop them :-).

Stefan said...


thank you very much for this lucid and sound post! I've scarely read such concise and thorough thoughts upon that point. I presume, we all cannot but share in your reflexions.

I take a really fancy to your weblog, so I hope you will manage to combine happiness and creativity!

RusGirl said...

I believe that one feels more happy when one knows what "unhappy" means. For instance, when you get well after an illness, or when spring comes after long and cold winter, or after meeting with boring pessimists you suddenly meet a group of young and vivid students...
You learn to appreciate and enjoy such things which otherwise will pass by unnoticed :)

Stefan said...

Read "rarely" instead of "scarely" , and real for really of course.
(At least in grammar and spelling I seem to be creative :-) )

Rahul said...

Great post Angie. I can easily relate with whatever your have written. I can also relate with Patxi. My story is somewhat similar. I tried to get into top Indian b-schools for 3 years but for some or other reason I could not get in. During those days, sometimes I felt like giving up my MBA dreams and settle in my current job. But the desire for MBA never dimmed and last year I decided to go for MBA abroad. I took GMAT, finished my apps, applied to HEC and shall be joining it this year.

I hope that you continue writing and inspiring people.

angie said...

Congratulations, Rahul, I'm very happy for you.

Rusgirl - you're are absolutely right! In that sense, it is good to have tough times in life once in a while. You really become more grateful and enjoy life more when things go fine again.

Sudha said...

i completely agree with everything u said here Angie. and very well said too.
I am in the same boat as u, about taking the first job offer after graduation. Though i didn't hate it as much i think this syndrome, common among many young people, has more to do with confidence too. Though i knew it wasn't my dream job, i was doubtful if i'd get anything better, and was scared of finding myself without a job after graduation. but now, i am much more confident about landing a good one, shud i decide to quit today...and think about job satisfaction and happiness more than the paycheck

P.S: did u slip off of Hella's list? I did'nt see ur last 3 posts on that one.