Introduction Statements of Intent are actually firm goals. They are targets towards which aspires during his or her lifetime. Having clear and effective Statements of Intent are very good indicators of happiness and a purpose in life. Statements of intent are centered around a) Personal finances and managing them b) Managing children and their education/other needs c) Care of parents and dependents d) Balance between spiritual and commercial lives and e) Follow up on life's goals at every stage.
Personal finances and managing them For this author, this became a good lesson in progress. He had to just look around and check on how people of his same Tamil Brahmin community live their lives. This is one community that would give the utmost priority to the education of children. Assets are built to only take care of higher education of children or the marriage of children. Most families have clear Statements of Intent. For example, after the wedding of their children, the long term recurring deposits and fixed deposits are the only source of income for most families, who are left with a corpus of around ten hundred thousand rupees or sometimes fifteen hundred thousand rupees. In some cases, they get to live with their sons or daughters to bring up their grandchildren and some expenses are reduced to some extent. Yet, most (including this author) are clear about this vital statement of intent: "We will manage with whatever resources we have and will never borrow money or be dependent on anyone". All wants are ruthlessly cut down. Rs.25,000 one time expenditure on a water purifier and the recurring annual expenditure of Rs.5000 is a must. Ola car trips in the cities are fine. Some little jewelry expense is fine. After the marriage of their sons or daughters, everything is cut down. No wants whatsoever. No shopping in the most expensive shopping malls. No foreign tours. Quiz them on what they would do if they are very sick and this answer will be given like a rocket: "Well we have the medical insurance and it is only Government hospitals for the rest". Natural therapies and living in natural rural environs where there is an abundance of nature is always encouraged. Many relocate to such places after retirement. Its curd rice and simple diet all the way. It is not that there are no high achievers in this community. Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, the actor Hemamalini, Sundar Pichai of Google, Dr. Rengarajan and Dr. Raghuram Rajan... the list is endless. Yet, this is the number one problem for most parents. Most of the sons or daughters are settled in the USA or in Europe. Most of them are from IITs and NITs or IIMs or chartered accountants. They easily migrate abroad. An increasingly large number of parents pool their resources and take up a rented arrangement in some old home or the other. This is more so in the city of Coimbatore. Hence, once you have such a clear Statement of Intent, living through it becomes quite easy.
Managing children and their education/other needs Cutting across caste or community or religion or region, the Statements of Intent of an increasingly large number of parents is quite clear: "let my child chose his or her career". This is very much so in the metros. The awareness of alternate careers is increasing day after day. Data Analytics, Robotics, SAP, Sofware Testing, and what have you are engaging the young minds like never before. Such courses are now available right here in India. It is hence wise to have a Statement of Intent that gives the child maximum scope to identify what best interests him or her. The very wide choices of courses is now a big opportunity to go ahead and chose the best.
Similarly, your Statement of Intent at the age of 25, assuming that you are earning some Rs.75,000 per month, should compulsorily start with saving at least ten thousand per month, to finance your child's future education, eighteen years from now. Such a long term horizon is very important too.
Care of parents and dependents You just cannot afford to neglect your parents. If you are abroad and can take them there, please do so. If not, think of some very viable alternative where there are good caretakers who would do a good job in your absence and then set apart a good amount as monthly expenses towards this sort of care. If you would have to house them only in old age homes, go for the most functional ones where they will be able to relate to what they need. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, many parents prefer the homely environs of old age homes in a town called Kumbakonam, right on the banks of the Cauvery river. This town is rain-fed and has a huge number of temples. They live a very quiet life, far away from the dust and din of the city. There are thousands of buses including the Omnibuses to all parts of the State. Dependents apart from parents also get to live here. as the cost is very reasonable. Whatever be your present condition, your Statement of intent should have an inclusive agenda that takes care of your parents.
Balance between spiritual and commercial lives This is vital too. Quiz even casually some people who simply trade off a good salary package and prestige for remaining as bank clerks. For them, this gives them security, and an assured income every month. It gives them the freedom to concentrate on spiritual matters and whatever they lose by way of money, is sought to be gained through what they normally term as "peace of mind". The Statement of Intent is very clear. They are quite keen to sacrifice something to gain something. The reason: the job of a bank officer and then a bank manager is very complex indeed. The tensions are telling on the health of so many people. Political interference is very high indeed.
Would you also have a similar Statement of Intent and then the goal that comes along with it? If you have a special talent, you can join an orchestra and make a little extra money. The permission to do so is often granted in most cases. Similarly, the need to remain aloof and take on official politics becomes a big job for many and at the age of 45, they pack up their jobs and quietly retreat to a remote corner of the country for a "safe" job, where they are invariably given a free house to live in, have all the basic comforts and enjoy the security of the job and all its attendant good things. Life is simple and direct. One can easily be happy with whatever is available and the Management in such environs are more than happy to accommodate people who can do a fairly good job. They do not look for exceptional performers, as the process capabilities are excellent anyway. The market for the product, for example, paper, is something that cannot be wished away for even decades.
If at that point in time, your Statement of Intent is just employment in such an environment and security the family, so be it. Normally such schools in remote places have very good infrastructure and the going is quite good. The family will quickly get used to the small comforts of the place and they will, in fact, enjoy the comforts of a very peaceful environment. The Spirituality goals seem to be very happily met in such environments.
Follow up on life's goals at every stage As long as Statements of Intent, that could vary from time to time, are value-driven, one can easily find Plan B or Plan C or even Plan D, to take care of contingencies. This is exactly what many intelligent Tamil Brahmin families do, as already pointed in the aforesaid discussion. Since their balance in life is maintained, most of them are very happy with the upper-middle-class lives and the happiness that comes with reasonable wealth, but not the kind of wealth that most of their sons and daughters have or get to enjoy in foreign environments in most of Europe or the USA. Follow up of each goal that follows Statements of Intent is very important. They can make a big difference to one's future happiness and peace of mind as well.
ConclusionThe more we look around for answers from people around us, the more we automatically learn on how to cope with the most complex demands. The key is interaction and observation of hundreds of people all over the country. This can mean interaction with friends and relatives on a more regular basis. Statements of Intent and the goals that are derived therefrom are very important to give our life the meaning it deserves. Day in and day out. It is another story that we do not have a choice either.