Throughout time, society has been embedding the dos and don’ts of how to live a successful life. As I am approaching my 25th birthday, and am relatively new to “adulting”, I find myself questioning the illusory lens that has taken over a majority of my peers. Since elementary school we have been directed to compete for strong grade scores, prestigious colleges, and hopefully a respectable position at a large organization. Initially, the majority of college graduates will find themselves sitting in a cube, with a corporate laptop, excited to have a job and the opportunity to move out of mom’s house. However, at the end of the day, no matter if you are making a six-figure salary or not, you may find yourself question what the hell you are doing and why. If you are in that boat, I advise you to ask yourself the following 5 questions in order to help bring yourself back to reality. Your reality. Your dreams. Your life.
1. Forgetting about your paycheck, what do you really care about accomplishing in this lifetime?
The first question is the most important but is also the most difficult to answer. Obviously as a young adult, you are still becoming familiar with yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You may not have any idea of which career path is best for you, however I am confident every one of you has ambitions and goals that may be neglected as your current focus is paying for rent and fireball shots on the weekends. May it be traveling, dogs, golf, charitable communities, there is a specific fire in each individual that truly makes them excited and happy. I struggle to answer this question myself because I cannot pinpoint a specific activity or lifestyle that is my “passion”. However, I realized that the answer was almost too obvious it was overlooked. I enjoy business. Small business. Entrepreneurship. I love to see people create new ideas, new jobs, and new success for themselves and their employees. That is why I decided directly out of college (after many corporate internships) that I would never sit in a formal job interview ever again. It’s simply about creating, which everyone has the ability to do. Think about what people will say about you at your funeral, and what type of legacy you want to leave for the future. You’re completely in control; do not let your boss, your family, or society tell you otherwise.
2. What’s the risk?
Graduating with a finance degree, I have been trained to analyze decisions by risk vs. reward. On the surface, building out pro-con analyses seems to make a whole lot of sense when making day-to-day and even big time life decisions. If the pros> cons, go for it. Depending on the amount of value you place on your current position, the amount of risk changes. If you are miserable well then, duh, the risk is less and vice versa. However, in my opinion, there is no greater risk than living your entire life within the constraints of some one else’s dreams. The biggest regrets spoken by the elderly are the things they DON’T do. Money is important. Nobody wants to be homeless. However, you cannot live your entire life in fear, holding yourself back from what is really you. Stop worrying what others might say and, do you. That’s the biggest reward one can achieve.
3. Do you still care about what others think about you?
Before posting an Instagram or a new Facebook profile picture, do you get nervous and ask your friends if it’s ok to post? Do you shy from doing the things you love because you worry what others might say? We have all encountered similar examples and there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling the immense amounts of social pressure that has been shackling us since our youth. However, as you are twenty something years old, it’s about time to put yourself first. Start putting yourself on the pedestal and begin coaching yourself from the sidelines. When I graduated from UGA, I moved to Aspen, Colorado to help start-up a cannabis company. I resigned from a corporate consulting offer and left all my friends and family behind to sell weed. I heard much pushback from my loved ones that I was giving up a very stable and secure position for a risky opportunity out in Colorado. Long story short, after ignoring the chatter, I became a 24 year old CEO to a 60-employee company in 12 months. Moral of the story, do you.
4. Are you too comfortable?
Are you still living in your hometown? Do you go to the same bars every weekend? Are your friends all starting to get married? It’s time to wake up and escape from the bubble. Find your drive and mission by traveling. Quit your job and take a trip to Southeast Asia, Europe, etc. You will find that life is much bigger than you always thought. Traveling in essence will open your mind, body, and soul to an entirely new way of thinking. This alone can create a new lens for you to begin noticing what is important to you and your life. Begin to meditate and explore what “inner peace” is really all about. Get out of your day-to-day habits of living for the weekends to get “lit” with your friends and start conceptualizing that you only have one shot at this life. Take risks and get uncomfortable.
5. What’s the worst that can happen?
The last question you need to ask yourself is, what’s really the worst that can happen if I decide to do __________? Let’s say you are currently working in corporate sales. You make decent money, nothing special. You are happy with your social life and your living situation, but you can’t stand your job any longer. After reading this spiel, you may decide, damn maybe I should work and travel overseas, or start a tutoring company, or work with a social entrepreneur start-up. However, the fear of leaving your job and the fear of uncertainty can debilitate you from any action. Ask yourself, worst comes to worst, will I be ok? If you decide to travel and end up going broke, I’m confident you will be able to find another corporate sales job, especially with the added personal growth you will have developed along your travels. If you live your entire life in fear of the unknown, you will always be blinded by what else is out there and what more is in you.
I am 24 years old, about to launch two companies out of my mom’s basement. I am no guru. I become anxious and paranoid about what in the world my life will look like a year from now. However, with the proper questions, the proper mindset, and the way you decide to look at things, you are in the driver’s seat to take your life from 0 to 100, real quick.
Author: Brett Gelfand