Two of the biggest regrets I hear from a lot of adults today is that they wish they had listened to their own instincts and followed the life path they desired rather than trying to please others, choose a job, or lead a life out of fear. When they look back, they recall swearing to themselves that it was only temporary until something better came along.
Most of us come across these types of people every day: the server that looks annoyed when you take more than a minute to order your favorite coffee or breakfast sandwich; the cashier that has that glazed look in his or her eyes when he or she hands you your change without saying thank you; or the catatonic executive who spends his or her day unproductively staring at the clock or computer screen.
Sadly, most Americans don’t take the initiative from an early age to identify and pursue their passions, talents, or desires. Instead they often give in to their fears or misguided advice they receive or adopt from parents, advisors, friends, and others. As a result, many wind up ‘phoning in’ their lives by: mindlessly daydreaming about what could have been, feel they settled for less than they desired and now regret a life they never wanted, or, even worse, wake up every morning making excuses to anyone who will listen as to why they can’t pursue the life they once had a passion for. I cannot begin to tell you how many people wind up stuck in dead-end jobs/careers because they are: afraid to explore their true potential, desperate due to prior poor financial or life decisions (marriage, divorce, debt, etc.), or, even worse, are paralyzed by their obsessive need to hold onto material possessions (house, cars, etc.).
This is why it is so important for young adults to stop following in the footsteps of so many older adults (age 40-60) who suffer from what I call financial obesity, one’s obsessive and self-sabotaging need to constantly overspend and remain financially unhealthy as a result of a lack of financial education and personal development. To break the cycle, we must start encouraging emerging adults to develop new ways to succeed on their own terms by educating them with tools and resources during their early, formative years. This empowering education can help our young adults begin to make better financial and career-related decisions earlier in their lives that will positively impact their future personal and financial success.
As I discuss in my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, and in my recent blog entitled, “Self-Economics: A New Era for America’s Emerging Adults,” I address why it’s imperative that high schools and colleges must now find more productive and effective ways to educate young adults through enhanced high school and college curricula which I have dubbed “Self-Economics.”
The new curricula should include:
1. Financial literacy–which promotes personal finance and investing and the avoidance of “financial obesity.”
2. Personal development–a theoretical approach to learning and decision-making (which promotes “the power of why”).
3. Entrepreneurship–which encompasses many of the elements of my T.I.M.E. Model which teaches emerging adults how to invest in themselves rather than continue to rely on, or disappoint others.
By empowering young adults to make better decisions that will positively impact their outcomes and lives, they will be encouraged to no longer accept the status quo. They will stop choosing college majors or educational degrees that are not in alignment with their own passions, skills, or strengths simply because they have been pressured to do so by others. As they continue to grow older, they won’t remain in jobs that no longer inspire or fulfill them. They’ll refrain from accepting or settling for a job that is inconsistent with what they want, and therefore stop struggling, or, even worse, feel “set up to fail.” They’ll refuse to live in a sterile apartment, house, or location that feels more like a cold bus stop bench (e.g. waiting area) than a warm and stable sanctuary (e.g. home). They’ll also stop attracting what I like to call emotional parasites. These are unhealthy, dysfunctional people that often intentionally or unknowingly manipulate or use others for their own personal entertainment or distraction and who often project their own negative self-worth upon others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues.
To help you enhance your probabilities for success, I would like to offer you the following three suggestions:
1. You have the right to disappoint others – as I stated above: this is your life; don’t phone it in. It is time for you to start identifying your passions by trusting your own instincts. Once you have discovered them, clearly define your goals so they are consistent with your passions. Then keep your eyes open so you can spot related opportunities to pursue them. Re-affirm your intentions to motivate and empower yourself to take the necessary actions steps required to achieve the goals you’ve set and to make the necessary intermediary decisions that will lead to your probable (not possible) outcomes for success.
2. Like clothes, you may outgrow your current job or circle of friends. It is okay to move on and go against the wishes of others. Surround yourself with the people and experiences that will not only support and encourage you to attain the goals you have set, but those that will also help you to continue to grow. “True friends” will always support your decision to embark on new life experiences, even when those intentions do not align with their own. Other friends may not, and you will need to let those who can’t fade away. Always remember and appreciate those that have helped you become the person that you are today, but don’t be afraid to leave them behind if they can no longer champion your desired outcomes for success.
3. Most importantly, clearly define your goals. Your odds for success improve dramatically when you start off with a plan or written goals that you can effectively use to measure your future decisions and outcomes. I find it extremely helpful to ask myself the following question before I make any important decisions, “What is the probability versus the possibility of…?” This leading question will help you to anticipate whether or not your pending decision will support or hinder your overall plans, goals, and/or desired outcomes. It is imperative that you take responsibility for your actions and decisions from an early age so that you do not unknowingly set yourself back or derail yourself from achieving your goals.
“If you pursue something with enough passion, you will find fulfillment and success. Fulfillment is a choice. Be doggedly persistent in your pursuits.” ~ Gary Rogers (Productivity Coach)
As I often tell others, “Throughout your life knowledge appreciates, possessions depreciate.” Don’t get stuck like so many before you in dead-end jobs or lifestyles as a result of trying to hold onto people or things due to a fear of losing them, a fear of change, or other fears you may possess.
Start investing in yourself now and continue to grow your future success.