Be the Weird Person

Sometimes I find myself in a conversation with a college student who is stuck trying to figure out what to major in...and that's when I basically say: "You know, there are many more career choices in the world for you to take advantage of that are not offered at your school."

We have more choices than ever in this world we live in and if we can't find the choice we want, we can create it!  And yet so many people are still trying to fit themselves in boxes that don't exist and don't work.

This makes me think of a few "facts of life" that I don't buy into:

  • The concept of retiring.  I haven't done any research into this, but I'm pretty sure retirement is a product of the industrial career scene.  Did farmers retire?  We have the opportunity now to make our work a more natural, less stressful part of life again because of the leveraging power of the internet.  We have the opportunity to create the kind of work we'd want to do until we die.  Why do something for 40 years that you can't wait to quit?  In fact, the world doesn't allow you to do the same thing for 40 years straight any more - it's changing too fast for that.
  • The concept of getting a degree that is going to give you a job for the rest of your life.  Colleges cannot predict what the world is going to look like and need next week, let alone next year.  I was listening to an interview where the entrepreneur being interviewed said that if you graduated with a degree in marketing, then you need to throw everything you know out of the window - it's already irrelevant today.  Colleges can't make the same promises to you that they used to, so don't believe everything you hear, but college can be a great experience if you play it smart - play by a different set of rules: 
1) Realize that your degree is just a step - you're going to have to keep learning and studying the field after you graduate and with even greater focus and intensity and maybe even let go of some of the things you've learned in college. 
2) Just because everyone else is pulling out loans like it's normal does not mean that it's right.  Do everything you can to not graduate with a load of debt.  Listen to Dave Ramsey on this. 
3) Don't wait till you have a degree or certificate before you give YOURSELF the permission to create something valuable for the world and make some money at it!  "You are not your resume.  You are your work." - Seth Godin
4) You don't have to wait for someone to give you a job before you can get experience in your field.  Are you studying graphic design?  Set up a website of your own while in college and show what you can do.  Take on clients.  Contribute to a magazine for free.  No one wants to hire you?  Offer to work for free and be excellent at what you do.  At best - they'll like you and hire you.  At worst - you'll get experience.  The people who GIVE of themselves the most are the ones who RECEIVE the most opportunities.

  • The concept of living in debt.  While I'm sure I may have debt to deal with at one point or another in my life, I will never accept being in debt as a way of life - even though the world operates supposedly "in favor" of the person who carries debt around.  There's a true story of a couple who worked in a bakery and they made enough money to live comfortably, but they decided to save all they could and live like poor people instead.  They even slept on bags of flour instead of buying a bed.  Eventually, the owner of the bakery lost his business and the couple bought him out.  Now they are millionaires...because they were willing to look like poor people in the beginning.  Young people are starting out their lives thinking that the next steps are to get the fancy car with the monthly payment, get the cookie-cutter house with the 30 year mortgage, get the yearly vacation, get the credit cards, get the new clothes, get the furniture on loans...not to mention they are still paying off tens of thousands of dollars of student loans.  These people look good on the outside, but on the inside, they have less money than the person begging for a dollar because their debt is out of control.  This is normal.  Decide not to be normal and be weird instead. 
Be the weird person who works like crazy to pay off school before graduation.  Be the weird person who starts their own business on the side.  Be the weird person who only buys what he has cash for.  Be the weird person who - if he does acquire debt - attacks debt and eliminates it immediately.  Be the weird person who would rather look poor for the present and BE financially free.  Be the weird person who makes more money than he needs so that he can focus on helping other people.  Be the weird person who works hard and not long.  Be the weird person who does what no one else is willing to do so he can live like no one else is able to live.

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