Adult society has basically evolved into 3 paths that we choose to take in life. While there are some variations, everything short of a trust fund or long of a suicide leaves us on a career, welfare, or business path. It’s what we call living, all three paths involve a “the grind”. “The grind” is simply the daily struggle to survive according to our own measuring stick. The 3 paths often overlap, and nearly all of us can identify with one of them because that is how we live.
The career path has had a good run for several generations but seems to be running out of steam lately. We used to talk about “dead-end” jobs growing up, but that has stopped as now they are all just jobs. Dead-end jobs. Pensions are “unicorn” rare, Social Security has been replaced with capital flushing, and your 401K is easily the second biggest scam of our lifetime. Short-term survival is the only thing your job is good for. Heck, I am pretty sure most corporations don’t want you to stay over 3 years anymore.
Careers also come with a few negatives for anyone wanting to make a go of it. It’s damn near impossible to do without significant debt. It takes a college loan, and Americans just want a lot of stuff. Status is an expensive partner when you can’t pay cash for it.
Modern education is all but useless. Many software engineers buy a $50,000 degree and can’t even program at an entry level anymore. It’s not their fault they have to spend most of their classes doing everything except activities related to their majors. Maybe this is why Google and other companies are dropping their degree requirements to make allowances for skill. My recommendation for anyone serious about the career route is to skip college and learn with a focus on your own. Build yourself an awesome portfolio with your 4-year head start and you will be light years ahead of everyone else your age.
My worry with career paths, from 20 years of manufacturing, is a fear that none of the good positions exist anymore. Jobs have either been consolidated with another position to save money or outsourced altogether. Bikers like to say, “It’s not if you have a wreck, it’s when.” The same can be said for your career.
The millennial generation is getting it figured out. They job-hop every couple years for the experience and refuse to get stuck at a job. If you aren’t moving up, move on. Don’t get buried under all the middle aged people “striving” to make it until 70. 70 is a myth anyway.
Careers only seem easy because companies still need a few people, but competition is getting stiff, and there will only be fewer jobs and more people in the future. A good goal to have for career takers are to have all of your debts paid off by age 50 and have some sort of residual side income to help you survive the downturns.
Let’s talk about welfare, and I am not just referring to the handicapped and lazy people without jobs. I consider the uneducated and unskilled workforce in America to be part of the welfare group. All entry-level jobs can be identified as welfare. This includes liberal arts grads slinging coffee in green aprons too. They just have more debt. Being in this group can actually be a good thing if you don’t have debt and enjoy learning new things on your own.
The folks in this group are more likely to have skills that cubicle dwellers will likely never learn. I know guys that make good money contracting on the side. The experience they get from this alone probably teaches them more about business and customer service than most business majors ever get. Shit, I even know a middle-school dropout that was pulling in $500K a year. Now he sits around smoking cigarettes and BBQ “out back” while sipping on a cold Coke.
Having skills without debt sets the stage for an opportunity, but it’s hard to do when you get stuck going down the debt path.
Business was saved for last because it is the only real option for anyone besides people with titles like CEO, COO, and CTO that want to enjoy retirement. There is simply no other way for most of us to make enough money to retire decently, but it’s not for everyone. Some people see it as a risky way of life and hold tightly to their beliefs.
Either way, you have little to lose. Your debt is drowning you, your retirement fund is shit, your company doesn’t want you to stay with fair terms, and you likely hate going there every day. I know, because you are still reading this.
It isn’t hard to start something small on the side. Start learning your way to success. I don’t want to say “keep failing your way to success” like everyone else because failing sucks. Just keep improving and come up with ideas every day until the good ones come out. It takes a bunch of bad ideas before getting a good one, so write them down like James Altucher does and take action on the really good ones.
And stop thinking you need to be an expert at everything before taking action. Winners go for it before they are ready because they realize ready never happens.