Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Corporate Treadmill

"So, is this it!?" - were my thoughts during the first few months of my internship at a large MNC, about three years back.

17 years of academic preparation and I'm sentenced to a cubicle? Report to work at 8.30am, wear your leash tie and don't lose your ID card. Heck, permanent staff had to carry a futuristic-looking tracker with them so that the head office could remotely wipe out data; if they lost their computers.

I understand that we all have to start from somewhere and it is imperative that fresh graduates spend a few years learning some discipline and work ethic through rigid corporate structures. However, the faces in the next cubicles were not those of fresh graduates. In fact, they were faces that were well in their late twenties and thirties. In short, they were trapped.

Although they ran on the corporate treadmill diligently, they also wore a face of apathy - accepting their fate as a corporate rat; or a 'faceless cog in the corporate wheel' as The Minimalists put it. The ones who played their political game well, made it to partner in their 50s. The smart ones, found a way out of the rat cage. But most of the others were still panting and running on the treadmill.

I knew then, that this is not the life I intend to live.

While the treadmill in the gym burns calories, the corporate treadmill burns your time. Precious time.

In return, the treadmill spits out cash that enables you to 'reward' yourself on the weekends, buying social symbols and stuff that do not add value to your freedom. As long as you are still able to run on the corporate treadmill, the banks will approach you with a line of credit - enabling you to buy more stuff that you do not need. Soon enough, you will have to run faster on that treadmill to pay off the interest accumulated on your debt.

The good news is that there is a way out. It sounds so simple that corporate rats find it so hard to fathom:

Stop buying stuff that satisfies your short term wants and invest the difference.

So, where am I now? Well, I've stopped purchasing stuff that do not add value to my freedom (read : freedom fund) and in 2 months time, I will be able to start sowing the seeds of the freedom plant.

Freedom from the treadmill that burns time.

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