Find a purpose or buy a house?

WHY DID WE POUR ALL OUR MONEY INTO STARTING A BUSINESS INSTEAD OF BUYING A HOME?

This is a question we asked ourselves several times before reaching a conclusion (and still ask ourselves at times even now). “Why don’t you buy a home?” is a question many people still ask us every now and then.

Yes, it was a conscious decision to invest all our savings into our start-up business rather than buy a home as expected from a middle-aged adult couple. A couple who have just had a baby girl. A couple who were in well-paid corporate jobs in well-respected high-profile roles. A couple who were doing exceptionally well in their respective professions. A couple who had no other financial asset or liability. When all was going perfectly well as per the world’s definition of ‘life is good’ and the norm would be to buy a house and “settle down”, we took a sharp U-turn by deciding to quit both our jobs and put most of our time and a big majority of our savings into starting a business. Here’s why:

 

Finding a purpose:

Personally, ever since I left Scotland, I was going through an identity crisis. I worked really hard, sacrificed many weekends, party nights and all kinds of leisure for several years to become an actuary. And when I became one, I struggled to know what my purpose was. Yes, a fully qualified actuary did not know what to do with her life. Performing regulatory and business valuations, designing and pricing life insurance products just did not satiate my “what the hell am I doing in this world” question. I constantly felt the hollow of not being able to do something that has a direct (and good) impact on the world.

“Settling down” wasn’t enough:

Both of us had this urge to do much more than “settle down”. I had a constant stream of haunting thoughts like “what’s the point of our big salaries?”, “what is the kind of world that I’d love our daughter to live in?”, “How can I make my profession better?”. We both knew that quitting both our jobs would be highly risky – for us, for our new born baby, for our parents, for our career. And yet, we just HAD to take that difficult step to find out what awaited us on the other side.

Set an example by doing:

There was no doubt about how much we both complained about the “corporate-ness” of our jobs. How people became machines by working like machines, how companies became machine-producing machines by treating people like machines and how most people that we knew worked only because their jobs pay their monthly bills, their mortgage and maintain their life style. And not because they truly loved their work. It was depressing to see the vicious circle most people were living in; the circle of work because you want to be able to buy the stuff that you want, buy stuff because you can afford it and make more money and buy more stuff and so on.

We both absolutely loved our jobs while we lived in Scotland and we have the urge for people around us now to experience what “loving your job” feels like. So, we wanted a platform to start fresh, work and lead by example and set a culture where people love what they do.

Why buy when we can rent? We just need a homely shelter:

For someone like me who needs certainty, renting a home isn’t the ideal solution. But somehow, one day I suddenly realised that buying a home means that we not only pour all our savings into one physical structure but also that we lose the financial freedom to quit/change/try something new with our career altogether. The thought of not having financial freedom gave us nightmares, not being able to buy a home did not. And in a karmic way to end this, if we were meant to buy a home, it will happen at a time it is meant to happen. Plus, renting a home and having to move every now and then will contribute to a ‘living light’ way of living and I’d like to embrace lightness as much as possible.

 

It has been over an year since our start-up came into existence. We are now a bunch of ten people working together – passionate, happy and loving our jobs. Running a start-up has been the toughest thing we have ever done (some days we both feel like killing each other) besides raising a baby (also makes us both feel like killing each other), but does it answer the ‘what the hell am I doing in this world?’ question? Yes, to an extent and eventually, this path will answer it fully. We just know.

 

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Why blog after all?

This is one of the most obvious, no-brainer kind of a blog post in the blogging world. But, yesterday, when a close friend asked me why I blog, I stopped for a second before replying and then I said “It’s a long story”. And I felt a sense of compulsion to turn that long story into a blog post.

So, why do I blog? Before I answer that, I think it is important to know why I read/follow blogs.

Why I read blogs:

  • They inspire me. Blogs inspire in several ways – to take up a DIY project, to take a decision that will improve my life, to be bold and feel confident. e.g. I follow the A Beautiful Mess blog, their projects and their business are an inspiration. Some of their DIY posts are simple to do at home, particularly for someone with no prior experience. They are a lot of fun too!
  • I feel a sense of connectedness by reading some of the posts. For example, someone writing about a problem they have been facing and how they dealt with it makes me realise that I’m not the only one facing a similar problem and that a lot of other people are in the same boat too. Sometimes, a blogger might rant about something that frustrates them – which I might connect to instantly. I absolutely like the posts which have a funny twist to their rant, this alleviates the frustration and gives me a chance to lighten up and laugh about it.
  • I like the fact that I learn something new everyday from reading blogs. For example, I find that ZenHabits blog always has something to teach – how to form/get rid of a habit, being productive, learning to let go, practice mindfulness and in general, how to calm your nerves.
  • Some bloggers have a really beautiful way of describing simple everyday experiences like travelling up a fully-packed lift or watching a new season arrive or spending time on a long weekend.
  • Some blog posts make me laugh my head off – they make my day!
  • I love reading books and I find that reading blogs is a shorter version of that interest. When my life becomes too busy to pick up a book, I find that blogs quench my reading interest instead.

These are just a handful of the reasons why I love reading blogs. And these are also some of the reasons why I like to blog. To write about something that others can connect to, that will make someone smile or laugh, that will inspire someone to try one of my ideas or apply one of my theories/techniques and so on.

More importantly, I write because there is so much chatter going on in my head and I find blogging a fun and creative way of putting that mind-chatter into words, sentences and stories. Also importantly, I write because the thought of creating something from nothing – from a blank page to a full blog post is very exciting and also happens to be my way of de-stressing. Conversely, this is the reason why I blog despite my hectic life style, despite my crazy job and despite my other hobbies/interests.

 

Happy Corner #7: (Don’t know what Happy Corner is? Read this)

The other day, I found myself in the middle of a mess with regard to my bank card. Almost 99.99% of the calls that I have with the customer care guys of various services/products that I use, end up in me wanting to find out where this “customer care” office is and find the person who I have been speaking to for the last one hour, to check if it was a real person with a real brain! Imagine jaw clenching, hand on forehead, red face, hot face, clenched fists, you get the idea. That’s how my calls with customer care turn into. Be it any customer care – travel agent, hotel booking, bank, mobile operator, online shopping.

So, I was very reluctant to sort this issue out by calling the customer care but I had no choice. Guess what happened next. This guy sorted ALL the issues (I had 4 serious issues) with the card in less than half hour! I was shocked! It was a revelation! I was overwhelmed, so I asked the guy what his name was and told him what a star he has been. I asked him if there was anyway I could put my gratitude in writing and he gave me an email address (one for good feedback) to write to. And so I did. The end of the call left a smile on my face, not just because the daunting problem with my card got solved but mainly because, the feeling of getting off the phone with customer care and not having my blood pressure hitting the maximum was a brand new experience and I owe to that guy for giving me this hitherto unknown experience and my happy corner for this post.