The world is moving from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. This transition is still in progress, but it is quickly becoming the norm. More and more traditional businesses are shutting down, restructuring or moving online.
Most of today’s workforce was brought up to believe that if they went to school, got a good job, and worked really hard they would become successful. There may have been a time when that was true, but now it’s merely the status quo.
Many people who followed that advice are either just getting by - or worse - treading water, living paycheck to paycheck. Debt, in today’s culture, is no longer treated with the seriousness that it should be. Credit companies continue to hand out charge cards like it was candy and consumers jump on it to curb their unpaid stack of bills.
Then the consolidation game begins. People refinance their home or throw all their debt onto a card with the lowest interest rate. For many people, this is only delaying the inevitable. They don’t have a plan for increasing their income, streamlining or tackling their debt, so they end up having to repeat the process all over again. Or, they have to find some other way to keep the bill collectors happy.
Is the system broken, or is our mindset broken?
Follow Your Passion?
Many high school or career counselors will ask you two questions to help you determine your future career path: “What are you good at?” and/or “What do you like?”
Unfortunately, these questions fail to address one crucial thing: how you want to live. Isn’t that just as important a question as the others? Do you want your job to determine what kind of life you live, what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in, what kind of vacation you can afford?
Many people will tell you to follow your passion, and that sounds really good, but it can also be misleading. When you turn your passion into a business, it can suck the life out of what you used to love and enjoy so much. You have to serve and meet your clients’ demands (instead of doing it for the joy it brings you), or else you won’t maintain a good reputation, and then you won’t have future business. That’s not always the case, but you have to temper pie-in-the-sky thinking with realistic thinking.
If what you like also coincides with what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and - on top of that - provides more than enough income for you or your family, rock on. However, that point of convergence is not easily found. If what you’re doing isn’t going to provide increasing returns and more freedom over the long haul, then you’re just a rat in a wheel. You will see very little change to your bottom line, year in year out.
Think in Terms of Results
Working a job is concerned with process. You work a certain number of hours and you get paid a certain amount for your time. There may be opportunities for advancement and promotion, but most of the time it just requires more of your time for slightly more money.
In other words, you either end up money-broke or you end up time-broke. If you make lots of money in the job world, you usually don’t have the time to enjoy it. If you have lots of time on your hands, chances are pretty good that you’re not making enough money to live on.
Designing your life is concerned with results. What kind of marriage do you want? What kind of cars do you want to drive? What kind of house do you want to live in? Where do you want to go on vacation? How much money do you want to make, and how much time do you want to have to enjoy it?
All these things have to be considered and designed with the end in mind, that is, if you want a different life five, 10, or 15 years down the line.
In the book Linchpin, Seth Godin notes that you are disposable to a company unless you possess skills and leadership qualities that others do not. If your boss can train someone to do what you do in a relatively short amount of time, you are - unfortunately - replaceable.
So, moving forward, what can you do?
Another thing you could do is invest your money. If you possess specialized knowledge, you might be able to play the markets or flip houses. While investing is a better deal than working more hours, investments don’t generally yield high returns, they necessitate quite a bit of money, and you usually require know-how to do well in them.
The best option is to find people that have what you want in life, model their mindset and success, and start your own business. A lot of people think that starting a business is risky, but there are a variety of low-cost, low-risk options available today. Consider online business, blogging, or even direct selling. There are possibilities available to you that don’t require significant upstart costs or huge ongoing expenses. After all, we’re in the Information Age now.
However, starting your own business does require determination and perseverance. If you can plug in to a training system, organization or mentorship program to fast-track your progress, it is definitely advisable to take advantage of it.
Jobs are necessary to cover your personal expenses, but they’re not going to offer a whole lot more. The question is, “what are you going to do once your 9 to 5 is over?” What will you do with your down time? Will you make productive use of it, or will you watch TV like most of the world out there?
A person who is results oriented isn’t as concerned with the immediate rewards as they are with what their vehicle can do for them. If you can find a vehicle that will get you to where you want to go - even if it doesn’t look pretty on the outside - hop in.