Humans are interesting creatures, for example, every time someone talks to you about the future, I bet one of the first questions they ask is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s an interesting question, for sure, but how relevant is it? Do people who plan do better in life?
In his book Millionaire Next Door, Will Danko writes that people who grow up in rich families and whose parents pay their way through life actually end up making less money than people who have to hustle. Yeah, I didn’t believe it either but it’s true. Rich parents who help their kids by paying for college or setting them up in a nice house and paying their rent are hurting them; destroying their ability to live like adults. All that time in college is important, but the kids are behind.
There’s something about the need to survive that encourages people to go out and make money that our generation of coddled kids doesn’t understand. Everyone born after about 1988 into the middle class knows what I’m talking about. Our parents love us, our parents are needy, and our parents want to give us the best life possible, the problem is they can’t give us the right help.
Here’s some advice: if you want to help your kids, instead of giving them money every week, learn how to network. Make a bunch of connections in your professional life; meet with celebrities or heads of big companies, and then when it’s time for your kid to get a job, they get a leg up without you having to transfer a huge sum of money their way. Networking isn’t difficult, just send some emails out, go to coffee a few times and be interested.
I’m not saying our parents failed us by focusing more on money and supporting a family than on grabbing contacts, but they could have done more. Our society looks at earning money and becoming “comfortable” as better than meeting a lot of interesting people, but I don’t understand why. Life seems simple to me: the more you talk to people you look up to, the more you’ll realize that you’re just a few steps behind them, and the money will come.
If your parents didn’t have a network and you’re looking for a job right now, I urge you to step back for a moment and look at your life. What group of people do you want to be part of? Do you want to be in the middle like your parents? Sitting around depressed out of their minds, talking about old friends they never see and wishing they could do life over again? Or do you want to be like the high achievers? Do you want to reach for your dreams and get burned out while meeting lots of people and making lots of money?
How about becoming an Outsider? This group requires ditching the need for a plan and just taking life as it comes. It requires breaking free of the mold society puts you in. For them there is no plan; you just do what you love while working a job that gets you by.
All of these are extremes, so feel free to combine them. Why not live the Zen lifestyle, move to a city you’ve always dreamed about living in, grab a low paying job that still pays a livable wage, hop in a tiny apartment and just start meeting your heroes? Meeting people with no plan and getting to know them just because you’re interested will push you in a cool direction and you’ll get to meet people you admire while living somewhere you’ve always wanted to. It’s a tough life to get into, but it has its positives.
So, what do you want to be when you grow up?