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Guest Column Enjoying the journey called life!

Enjoying the journey called life!

A real life case study on life planning.
Suresh Sadagopan Sep 22, 2017

Oh God. It’s Monday and I need to get ready for work, thought Ravikiran. He dragged himself out of bed and got ready for office, 45 minutes later. After a couple of cups of coffee, he was feeling a lot better now. Driving to the office, he was thinking about his life…

He had joined a good Indian multinational as a trainee in the Sales function. He has risen to the position of Sr.Vice President - Sales in the same company, in a matter of 16 years. He was the blue eyed boy of the then MD and was fast-tracked in his career. RaviKiran was no slouch - his performance was fantastic and he was always an outlier. In fact, he was well regarded in his office for his professional competence and his affable manner.

He had all the trappings of success - own home in a tony neighbourhood, his wife & kids were well provided for and he was virtually rolling in money. Overall, he was in the pink and should have been delighted at his wonderful placement in life. However, he keeps feeling a vacuum. He keeps thinking as to what he is doing with his life, where it is all heading, he feels drained these days & derives no satisfaction, even when his department is setting water on fire!

His lack of vigour & unhappiness was a mystery even to himself. He was wondering as to why he was feeling that way. When he discussed this in the passing with his wife, she suggested him to meet her friend’s brother - Seshadri. Seshadri was a Life Planner and Geeta, Ravi’s wife, had heard good things about him. She thought Seshadri might be able to help Ravi.

Ravi fixed up a time with Seshadri. In the initial meeting, Seshadri explained to him the concept of life planning. “Life Planning seeks to unlock the deepest yearnings/ longings and seeks to deliver the dream of freedom - a life that one has always dreamt but felt was impossible to attain. The idea here is to live a life imbued with meaning, values and rich potential. In short, living a life that you can’t have enough of and which you eagerly look forward to every single day.”

That seemed too good to be true. Nevertheless, Ravi felt it was worth trying, considering the dreamlike payoff.

Ravi had to fill up certain questionnaires, which gave him a lot of insight & clarity. Seshadri understood where Ravi was and probed his motivations, his deepest desires and what would be an ideal life for him.

Ravi’s ideal life was one where he wanted to slow down a bit and have time for his passions. He has multiple passions - an environment evangelist, a person concerned & interested in indigenous arts & crafts with a passion for music.

Seshadri had understood what would make Ravi tick. Ravi had an interest in indigenous handicrafts and he talked excitedly about how he could start a firm in areas that interested him. Seshadri asked Ravi to elaborate this vision a bit further. Ravi said, “If I can identify a place on the seacoast with a beautiful mountain backdrop that would be an ideal place to live and work from.” Ravi was an avid trekker and he felt such a place would help him indulge in his passion and be healthy. He also expressed his keenness to rejuvenate denuded mountain slopes by planting shrubs & trees. Ravi was excited at the life he was now able to clearly visualise.

Seshadri told him that there are many beautiful places across India, which matched his desires, and he could virtually choose the place of his interest. Ravi wanted to be near the indigenous artisans. Ravi had visited Orissa and felt that there are good places in Orissa where he could locate his firm in close proximity to the artisans. He came up with the idea of setting up kiosks in malls and operating independent shops in tourist places to sell the wares. Ravi also wanted to sell these handicrafts online to give him reach and scale.

After this discussion with Seshadri, Ravi was visibly happy. He was grinning and a strange light gleamed on his face. It showed excited anticipation of living a life with a true purpose. He was walking on air.

The next time, Ravi brought up a few problems like what his son would do if he were to live in a remote area. Seshadri suggested that since his son Hari was in eighth standard, he could be admitted to a boarding school. Ravi was not sure if Geeta would agree. The other problem that Seshadri raised was about cash flows. Ravi had good investments and assets. He said that he has no problem in selling some assets to fund his business. Ravi was optimistic that cash flows from the business would start from second year. Ravi had an idea of corporate and festival gifting, which if successful, would bring in good money. Seshadri revised the cash flows with the numbers shared by Ravi and showed it would work. Ravi was happy to have surmounted most obstacles. However, he still had to find his ideal location. He wanted to take off for 15 days and find a base.

Ravi was fired up. Seshadri showed him the plan in the next meeting, which confirmed that the plan would work. Ravi confirmed that Geeta agreed to send their son Hari to a boarding school. The only thing was to identify the location where they would drop anchor.

However, Ravi’s boss was aghast when he heard that Ravi might be leaving. Ravi softened the blow saying that he would spend time - 8 days a month, for up to a year so that they have adequate time to find a replacement. His MD reluctantly agreed.

Ravi’s days have started getting exciting. He had gone to travel sites, arts, handicraft portals, and scoured suitable locations. He was able to identify half a dozen locations. He was so excited that he went on a road trip almost immediately with Geeta, to look at these places. They hit the bull’s eye in the second place itself. They found their ideal destination in Puri, Orissa. Though there were no mountains, Geeta instantly okayed it as her Lord Jagannath was there. It worked wonderfully for Ravi too, as Raghurajpur was not too far, which is a hub for Pattachitra paintings and other handicrafts. Ravi went on a recce to Raghurajpur and came back suitably impressed, with a couple of paintings as souvenirs. Geeta could see how excited he was - he did not stop talking about the painters, the beautiful & intricate pattachitra paintings, how he went to their home and had food with the artists. Geeta was happy to see this Ravi.

Seshadri learnt from Ravi that the location was to be Puri. Seshadri made a few last minute touches to the plan and expressed his satisfaction. Ravi will be able to live this second innings now.

All this is part of the EVOKE process of life planning (as propounded by George Kinder ) in which the planner and client find out what is exciting for the client and see how the client can pursue his heart's core yearning. Life becomes exciting when it has a purpose. It is a wonderful thing to behold when the client gets back their mojo and the planner is able to help the client live the life they truly wanted.

From here on, the client will live a life they truly dreamed of and wake up to one exciting day after another. That is in fact, the true reward a life planner would look forward in an engagement - a client whose torch has been lit and is enjoying every moment of this journey called life!


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