Richa, an IIT graduate, was all smiles. Recently, she had realized her dearest ambition of getting recruited in a multinational company with a seven-figure salary, luxurious amenities and what not. It was a perfect, dream-come-true moment, her happiness further accentuated by glowing praises of friends and siblings, blessings of parents and teachers and the consequential celebration and festivity. Success simply smiled on her!
As days turned into months, Richa got adjusted in her new ambience: New friends, encouraging seniors and new lifestyle. A lucky girl – Everyone would say. However, as life flowed by lucidly and despite everything well settled and secured, Richa started to get a nagging feeling that something’s not right.
She had no problem with anyone or anything. The job was great, so were the people. Still the nagging continued. It was as if someone was whispering to her in her mind that something’s definitely not right. At first, she ignored but the more she ignored, the more overwhelming it became.
Finally, as few years rolled by, she couldn’t take it anymore. She introspected herself. Oddly and with sad realization, her instinct observed that the spark, the burst of energy she had in her few years back, had dimmed considerably. The sense of purpose that had incited her into action seemed distant and diffused. Bouts of sadness frequented her. The high-happy-mood she was used to had eluded. Why? She questioned herself and consulted her friends, seniors and well-wishers.
One day, her friend, also a senior, Ms. Bose said to her: “I think I know your problem.”
“What?” Richa asked, amused.
“I can guess the root of your sadness. May be, I can help.”
“Then guess away, Ms. Boss.” Richa leaned closer.
“What made you such an energy-driven girl a few years back?” Ms. Bose asked.
Richa grinned sheepishly, “Well…you know what? I’ve been trying to find that out myself?”
“C’mon, Richa, just think about the happiest moments of your life; Recall back. I think you’ll get the answer simply from your past!”
Richa thought before answering, “Well…starting from childhood, when I topped in my H.S. exams. Then, university topper, the celebration time –wow! I was having the time of life with family and friends! – Then there were many sweet moments, occasions. And then, when I cleared IIT with flying colours. To top it all, when I got selected in this company! - You should have seen my smile. I think that was the biggest smile I ever smiled!”
“Good,” her senior nodded, smiling at her. “But what were you happy about?”
“What was I happy about?” Richa repeated, eyeing Ms. Bose curiously, “Of course, I achieved a lot, made others proud; got what I dreamt –”
“Yeah, so you had an aim. And that aim got bigger, better and broader, isn’t it?”
“Hmm...Yeah...when I topped H.S exams, my next bigger aim was to top university; and then IIT,” Richa said.
Ms. Bose tilted her head, eyeing Richa curiously, with an air of a teacher about to ask a tougher question, which she did: “So, Richa, what’s your aim now?”
Richa replied, rather uncertainly, “To sustain myself, my family, to get married and settled and, well, so on the list goes...”
“Well that’s good. Family balance is important. Okay; But what about your passion? You must have some sort of passion or hobby or dream that really turns you on. Am I right?”
Richa had no reply. It was such a curious question that never occurred to her. Few years, her dearest ambition of joining an MNC got fulfilled; But what now? Of course she was enjoying the company’s work, enjoying the place, the people. But, now she realised, she didn’t have a specific aim that could turn her on.
“Ms. Bose, please explain.”
“Well, Ms. Richa, that’s what we call a POD?”
“POD? Huh? Some disease?” Richa sounded fearful.
“No, no!” Ms. Bose chuckled, “That’s called Post Olympic Depression. During the Olympics, the athletes are full of adrenaline, energy and vigour - the dream-come-true moments for athletes. Now as the Olympics end, the sudden glamour and glitz come to an abrupt halt. The energy and enthusiasm that they had been subjected to for months stop suddenly. As they come home, and as days pass, they are bereft of any purpose. And even if they have a purpose, that purpose is not higher than to compete in Olympics.”
Richa nodded, trying to digest. Ms. Bose resumed: “POD can happen to anyone. If you Google it, you can know that even the astronauts suffered from POD after returning from Moon. Going to Moon resembled achievement of highest kind anyone can hope for. But as they came to Earth, many of them didn’t find any purpose in life which could be at par with going to Moon. Those who found contentment in other purposes lived a happy life.”
Richa said, “That means if you succeed in a purpose, then you should commit yourself in another purpose wholeheartedly and keep moving on?”
“Exactly, Richa! It’s like – climb a mountain’s top. Enjoy the view. Then, start aiming for the next mountain! You must have heard of a saying “Happiness is not found at the end of the journey but during the journey.” So keep on moving with a precise, definite purpose. See in your case. You cleared your H.S. exams. You revelled in joy. Next, you had set yourself a next aim: University topper. You crossed that too. Next, you cleared your IIT and got recruited. Wow! Brilliant! Now, ask yourself, what next?”
What Next? Richa thought. That was really an intriguing question piquing her interest. She asked “What should I do now?”
“Find a purpose to which you can commit yourself whole-heartedly while also doing your company works and maintaining you family. It can be anything and not necessarily high-sounding. You can join music classes; learn to dance or do anything you were expert at from childhood. The point is to find something to look forward to; something creative, interesting and enjoyable.”
“I got you, Ms. Bose!” Richa exclaimed in delight. For the first time that she had an answer to her nagging feeling, Richa said: “You are right. Now it comes to me. Your words are an eye-opener. I’ve always been interested in doing community welfare programmes, you know, helping the people financially. I’ve also got a flair for teaching English. I can be of great help to students or underprivileged children. Or, I can even focus on writing a book. It’ll be a great purpose, I think.”
“Very good, indeed!” Ms. Bose patted Richa, “Remember, POD can happen to anyone. I’ve seen many students getting high ranks in School and Colleges. It’s good; it boosts their morale. But many times, they get obsessed with the Scent of Success and suffer from POD. The result: they fare badly in their future exams and in life.”
“Yeah...that happens.” Richa nodded.
Ms. Bose resumed: “Heed my words: Success is not an object to preserve it in your showcase like a trophy! It’s an emotion experienced from within and is, in reality, short-lived. The only way to preserve that Success-emotion is to have a defining sense of purpose throughout your life.”
Ms. Bose concluded: “If a purpose is achieved, go for the next challenge and keep progressing as a human being. That’s Success in its true essence. So, next time if you achieved a success, pat yourself proudly, enjoy the emotion and ask yourself: What Next!?!”