In life we are in for the ‘long haul’. With the advancements in science the average life expectancy is 70+ years. This is a fact that escapes most of us.. So as a child, teenager, a college student, an employee or as a middle-aged person we go through life in a myopic fashion. We don’t seem to see more than a few years ahead in our life. As a result many of us take a roller coaster ride through life.
In fact our vision in life becomes better and better as we age, tending towards a perfect 6/6 probably at doorstep of death.
As someone who has crossed the 50+ age barrier I have the privilege of looking back at my life and the lives of many of friends, colleagues, classmates and acquaintances, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin.
I have found that lives of people fall into several major categories. The progression or retrogression in lives falls into a few main categories. I show the examples of several life trajectories below. Note: That the lines are not as smooth as depicted but are wavy in reality. Anyway here some of the main ‘trajectories of life’
The ‘Crash & Burn’ type: These people taste success very early in life. Due to unreasonable demands from their parents, society or excessive expectations of themselves they rise very fast. In fact they explode into limelight and burn out due to excessive stress on themselves.
The Plateau’ers : These people are full of energy early in their lives. They push themselves relentlessly and work towards success. This happens for many years. They advance rapidly in life and move higher and higher in their professional and social life. Then all of sudden they seem to lose steam and simply give up. Then they start to plateau and plateau. It is as if they suddenly lost interest in everything in life.
The ‘Rise and Fall’ types: These people like ‘the plateau’ers’ do well early in life maybe till their mid 30’s. Then for some reason, not only they lose interest in life, they also just seem to work against themselves as though they need to undo all their success. They decline rapidly.
The Drifters: These people just drift aimlessly in life. They are not driven by any ambition in life. They take life as it comes. So their lives have a lot of ups and downs and they really don’t care. They just go through the motions of living
The Steady Climbers: These people probably have the best approach in life. They have moderate ambition. They go through life at a steady pace. They make incremental advancements in life. They know that life is a marathon and not a 100 meter dash.
The Random Travelers: These people go through life in a random fashion. They pursue a career for 8 – 10 years. Then, all of a sudden, they decide to travel around the world for several years. Then suddenly, when they are tired of traveling, they do social work or start preaching. There is no plot for these types
If you are young and just beginning to embark on a career then it is really useful to decide how you would like your life to turn out. In most case the ‘steady climb’ is a good approach. Life is a marathon and it is necessary to move ahead in manageable steps. If you are middle-aged and if you life thus far has been roller coaster ride, you could make necessary course corrections and move into a steady climber. So it is up to you to decide how you want your life to turn out.
However I would like to point out that if we ask the plateau’ers, or the rise & fall types or the drifters they may have reasons for leading such a life. For e.g. the drifters may say that while their life has drifted in general they been able to live a fuller life as they were able to appreciate several aspects in life for e.g. arts, culture etc and that is perfectly fine too. It is up to each one of us to decide what is important and what is not important in life.
So you will have to decide how the ‘trajectory’ of your life should turn out to be and work towards it.