Growing up we all develop an idea of what the world is like and what life will be like when we get older. There are a lot of things that influence this idea like our families, our location in the world, and our beliefs. For a lot of us though, especially in the developed world, one thing is almost universal.
We work as hard as we can through grade school for a chance at getting into a good college. Once we get into that college and graduate, we still can’t enter the workforce because now we need our masters degree to get a decent entry level job. Once we finally earn our masters and accumulate a considerable amount of debt doing so we can finally get a great job at a great company and start at the bottom. We work as hard as we can for 40 hours a week (more like 60-80 for a lot of people) for about 40 years and hopefully we make our way to the top or at least as close to the top as we can. Our relationships, hobbies and passions are all squeezed in the little bit of time between working, getting ready for work and sleeping. Once our 40 or so years are up we retire and we finally get a chance to relax and do what we want with our lives.
This is the way of life that was taught to me
…and a lot of people just like me growing up. We need to study hard so we can get a job working hard for someone else and dedicate almost all of our waking hours to it so we can earn a liveable wage. We give them our time and they give us the amount of money they think we deserve for it.
My family worked on Tobacco farms in South Carolina. Back breaking work in the unbearable heat from sun up to sun down. So for people in my family to be able to work office jobs with air conditioning and benefits is considered a huge success.
But is this still the American dream? If it is, should it be? Do we need to accumulate massive amounts of debt in school in order to get a good job working for someone else? Should we really dream of working in a system where we trade our time for money? Our time, the only thing in life we can’t create more of, being traded for a wage determined by someone who has never met us and most likely never will.
That’s not my dream.
I want to live life while I’m young. I want to create a life I don’t need a vacation from. I don’t want to wake up tired to an alarm clock every morning to commute to job I don’t enjoy to work on something that doesn’t really benefit my hopes and desires. I want to wake up when I want, work when and where I want, and spend my time with the people I want to spend it with. No more awkward water cooler conversations where we have to act like we get along with the people we work with when in reality we just want to punch them in the face. Admit it, you want to punch at least one person you work with. We all do.
It’s an outdated system. It doesn’t work like it used to, and 5, 10, 20 years from now it’s definitely not going to work. No one can live off of minimum wage. $7.25/hr isn’t enough to feed yourself and definitely not a family. I’m not saying every occupation needs to pay at least $15/hr, but it’s common knowledge that $7.25 isn’t enough money to survive. And before you know it, we’ll be losing a lot of those minimum wage jobs to robots anyway. Factory jobs, taxi drivers, and maybe even doctors could be replaced by automation and our robot counterparts.
So what do we do? If the system isn’t working what are our other options?
Do we write letters to our congressman? Do we politely ask our bosses for a raise? Do we go back to school one more time to learn new skills? I guess we could do all of those things, but I’m not sure how effective it would be. Can we trust our congressman to do what is right for his people? Will our boss really be open to giving us a raise just because we need it? He still has to look out for his bottom line. If a raise does happen, it’s usually pennies on the dollar anyway. And going back to school is expensive and time consuming, and a lot of big corporations think degrees are “irrelevant” now. And even if you were to get the perfect situation worked out at your job, you are still trading your time for their money. You work when and where they tell you to until they tell you you can retire. I, for one, want more freedom than that.
That leaves us with only one option. We have to change our way of thinking.
We change the way we’ve always done things and the way we think they are meant to be done. We start being creators and stop being consumers. We get out of our “employee mindset” and get into an “entrepreneurial mindset.” We start our own business and create our own jobs.
But that’s too hard! The majority of new small business fail! I don’t have enough money! All of those statements are legitimate concerns, but none of them should stop you from living the life you deserve. I’ve tried to start several businesses and failed. A dessert shop, pet supply store, a hospitality services company and an italian ice shop just to name a few, and I’ve never even made it past writing down my business plan. Brick and mortar businesses are extremely hard to start, and it’s even harder to make them successful. You do need a good bit of money to get started. But there are easier ways to do it now. We don’t have to go into debt to make our dreams come true anymore.
We live in an age of technology. The internet connects every continent making the world a much smaller place than it used to be. We can be in America with customers living in Mexico, the UK, Australia and Thailand without batting an eye. Everyone shops online now. You can put a buy it now button on any website. And we’re not limited to selling only physical products anymore. People have a strong desire to learn and to improve their lives, and if you have knowledge that would be beneficial to other people, you can sell them that knowledge.
So what are your passions?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Are you a fitness junkie? Then sell a workout program and blog about your daily routines. Do you spend every weekend out on a boat fishing? Teach people how to do that. Or be like Samantha Alvarez and teach people how to Hack Their Life.
Take your hobbies and turn them into your career. It’s not easy, it’s actually very very hard. I’m not saying you are going to be able to spend 5 minutes setting up a blog on wordpress post a few articles and then BOOM! Here comes the money. Not even close. It takes a lot of work. It takes a long time and it takes a lot of effort. But it is possible. People are doing it, and they’re people just like me and you. And there are people like Cody McKibben who are even teaching people how to do it.
Living this lifestyle became even more important to me when I became a father. The first time I looked my little boy in the eyes I knew there would never be anything more important to me than my time spent with him. I knew being tied down to a typical 9-5 would keep from experiencing all I want to experience with him, and I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to be at every basketball game, every school play, and when he needs me I want to be able to drop whatever I am doing and be there for him. Having to ask my boss if I am allowed to leave work and be with my son isn’t going to work for me anymore. Creating a sustainable online business is the only option for me.
“But you’re a man you need to go to work to support your family! You work two jobs if you have to! Your kids will understand if you aren’t home because you’re off working hard to support them!” I told myself that several times, but that’s in line with the old way of thinking. That’s part of the employee mindset. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will still allow me to provide for my family while spending time with them.
So here I am, sitting in front of my laptop writing a blog post.
I’m not rich and I’m actually quite far from it. I don’t have a fancy car or a house on an exotic beach or a private jet that will take me anywhere I want to go. But I have changed my way of thinking. I’m creating things now. I’m doing more than sharing videos on Facebook other people have made. I’m creating the things for people to share. I’m no longer waiting 40 years to finally be in control of my life. I am working right now to gain control of my life sooner rather than later. I’m starting to do things that will make ME money instead of just my bosses. It’s not easy. There is no such thing as an overnight success. It’s hard. But it’s possible and I’m making it happen. So can you.
Build your own dreams or someone else will hire you to build theirs.