There is one thing which if you do, you can dramatically change your life. Do you know what is this one change?

Start looking at what YOU did to get that result. We spend too much time blaming our parents, siblings, friends, bosses, lenders, shareholders for what goes wrong in our lives. I know just too many people who hold others responsible for the mess that their lives are in.

Have we not heard the following:

I married this girl because my parents asked me to

I did engineering because my father asked me to

My investors withdrew money at a crucial stage of my company

the one change that you should make in your life is simple. Be responsible for the actions that you take. Or the actions that you refuse to take. Errors of Commission and Errors of Omission.

Take the case of a girl who did not know what to do in class XI – in India you take a common exam in class X and then you need to specialize. So post class X she had a choice of taking science (doctor, engineer, pure maths, architecture..) , commerce (CA), or arts (philosophy, psychology, economics).

This girl wanted to do History leading to a degree in history and perhaps a doctorate in History.

I had no business to tell her what to do, but by mistake she asked me that question. So this is how the conversation went:

Girl: I like history, so I want to do history – maybe leading to a PhD.

Girls’ Mother: yes yes she should do what she is interested in (omg this is so fashionable these days !!)

Girls’ Father: frankly I do not know what career prospects are there but I am fine…with whatever she wants.

My take: What you want to do in your life is your take. You can study Geography and join Discovery Channel and work on some exclusive project in some part of the world. You can study Veterinary science become an animal doctor and work on wild animals in the African forests. However, at 14 if you tell me that is what you want to do for the rest of your life, I will have a sound laugh. You are way to young to know what you want to do. This is exactly an age when you are more likely to be infatuated than be in love. So let us admit by saying “we do not know what we would want to do for the rest of our lives”. My dear girl start taking responsibility for your actions. When you are 23 qualified with a PhD in History, there is a good chance that a corporate school will offer you a salary of Rs. 400,000 p.a. Believe me, this is a great salary for a school teacher. Your parents will be happy that you have a job.In fact, they might go to town saying “how you are different from others”. How you were never swayed by money and you are God’s special creation. You will spend little, and will be able to save a lot of money because you are anyway staying with your parents.

Exactly at 23 another friend qualifies as MBA from a premier institute. She is your best friend, and so you are privy to her job offer of Rs. 14 lakhs. She has also found a match – 4 batches her senior – and he is earning about Rs. 20L. So this couple earns Rs. 34 L a year, gross.

You then see your cousin tell you that she has passed her CA with a rank, is currently enrolled for CFA (US) and is not decided whether to join MBA in India or go abroad. He has a job offer (which he is not considering) that will pay him Rs. 9 L a year. This job is in Gurgaon and he does not want to relocate from Mumbai.

Another first cousin gets into IIM B and he is gushing about the previous batch’s best offer of Rs. 35 lakhs for a fresh graduate – but the job is in the Gulf…

Now does the degree look good? Answer the following questions:

  • will you blame your parents for not guiding you properly?
  • will you say “i wanted to be a historian and I am happy
  • will you be worried that a guy earning Rs. 22 Lakhs is not willing to marry you?
  • do you really think you can answer any of these questions?
  • will you be able to tell yourself that it does not matter that your brother bought is wife an Apple watch?
  • will you be able to match the lifestyle of your siblings and cousins?
  • will you marry a fellow school teacher?
  • oops too may questions?

Sorry I do not have the answers. Unfortunately in life there is no peace in pointing the finger and making others responsible for how you feel and for what your life looks like. Of course you can do it, but face it, who cares?

There is no peace in giving your power away to forces outside of yourself and making them responsible for the quality of your life. This also means that you should not care what other people think about you. Great. Try telling that to your 14 year old brain, and see how you react to a pimple. Now go to your age of 24 and see how you will react to a classmate buying a car. With her own money.

There is no peace in putting your life in other people’s hands and expecting them to live it for you. Your mother who is now so supportive has no clue about the caste system in corporate India. She might be HARMING you in supporting you. Sure she is doing it unintended, but hey YOU have to bear the consequences.

Your life is yours to live. Your path is yours to walk on. And by having the courage to take life into your own hands – assuming responsibility for who you are and for what you want to do, do it.

My job, as usual is to tell you only one thing: YOU, AND YOU ALONE are responsible for your actions.

I am not a fee based career counselor. Luckily I do not have to answer any of the questions that I have raised.

My daughters, nieces, nephews, kids of friends,…friends of kids…have to answer this question.

As Bill Gates said, Life Is Unfair.






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  1. Superb Subra ! You can wear multiple hats- Career counsellor, Agony uncle, Financial advisor, fitness counsellor, spiritual advisor…:)

  2. Excellent !!!
    this reminds me of many articles of another person’s blog (Stevepavlina ‘s blog) especially the ‘Courage to live consciously’
    Reading this blog post re-inforces some fundamendal ideas / values about money!!

  3. Though all true, but so much money mindedness. Had the entire human race thought this way we might still be in the dark age (not saying this nano age is better than that…)

  4. sir this and all very easy to say and give lecture
    reality is every decision parents make or the child is forced to make is governed by what others do

    children at home and at school right from lkg till workplace are all taught to compare with others only. i havent seen any college student or young trainee ready to live life on their terms

    99% of people have very little emotional intelligence or maturity to take responsibility for their decision at 30 or even 40 for what they did at 20

    over the years when asked guidance be it college course job or studies or anything
    i just say do whatever you want within your budget but do it well..

  5. Great Article. My own family story. Me and my brother (younger to me by 4 yrs) had taken different paths post engineering although both of us passed with top marks & from reputed college. While I was happy with PSU job and he had gone to masters in USA. No one advised me pros and cons of job in India and USA.

    10 years down the lane, there was vast difference in both of us income levels (mine is much lower compare to USD sal) and had go through personally lot of stress. Yes, certain decisions affects our lives and everything else is forgotten except money. Our society respects who has more money irrespective of caste, religion, age, gender and what not.

  6. Brilliant insight into the mind of child who has to take career decisions. At that age, most child are prone to ape their peers (in my case i took science just because toppers of my class took it and not taking it would have meant letting go the privilege/exclusiveness of getting good marks in X).
    A child is not in position to think to the consequences these actions could cause later in life (I wanted to be artist at that age as I enjoyed painting). Complete freedom by parents at that age might look good at that time, but could look unfair years later for lack of guidance and when consequences appear.

  7. Very nice article though a bit outside of what Subra Sir usually writes 🙂
    What I have learned so far is, in life nobody knows who will be becoming what, when and how.. I think its all to do with what you decided to do, and how you make use of the opportunity you get in your life..

  8. I’ve a real life incident example to add here.

    I know a poor family where there are two brothers, elder one was not so intelligent and left home at a young age. The younger one was brilliant and studied on scholarship, went on to win university medals too.

    Younger one took a small PSU job near his parents’ place to take care of them (although he had very good job offers from big companies), parents’ in the mean time were not even bothered about the elder son for all these years.

    One fine morning the elder son comes back with lot of money from abroad (where he was working for sometime).

    Cut to today: The elder son has lots of money (which he has earned all these years by wrong means), younger one has comparatively less money as he took a simple PSU job.

    The parents’ are all praise now for elder son and they even told his younger son once on his face that he made a mistake by not going for big job.

    Conclusion: Society respects money a lot more than what we think…

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