Ahh, the American dream: finish high school, continue to get a degree or specialized training, and live out the rest of your life for an organization the provides fringe benefits and opportunities for promotion.
For some, attending college may be about enrichment and personal fulfillment. Still, for most people, the primary motivation to go to college is the hope of securing gainful employment when finishing. Statistics validate that the average income of someone who has earned a bachelor’s degree is 80% higher than their peers with a high school diploma or less.
So, assuming having a decent salary is the big win for investing four years of one’s life and tens of thousands of dollars, it is no surprise that so many are motivated and encouraged, if not pushed, to pursue this pre-mapped route.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this and by no means discredit what a precious resource knowledge can be. There is nothing wrong with taking the traditional route! But let’s look at this a little closer. Over 70% of college grads are in debt with a whopping collective total of about $1.5 TRILLION. If you were to place 1.5 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end, that would stretch for about 210,000 miles, or around the earth about 8.5 times. It’s no wonder the average age children move out of their parent’s house has crept up to nearly 30!
With such responsibilities, having a 9-6 job is not only attractive but convenient. A safe and secure job will help pay those pesky student loans, make the monthly payment on dependable transportation, take a vacation occasionally, and maybe even save towards a down payment on a home. All good stuff and part of livin’ the dream!
Maybe dreams are for kids?
Hence, most people prefer to work for someone else all their adult lives. They get periodic promotions, pay into their retirement fund, and live a life that is risk-averse and without complications. They are content. Many of them at least. According to Forbes, 58% of them are. Which means 42% aren’t. Over 2/3’s of them are merely surviving. Miserable at work. They hate their job; they hate their boss; they just go through the motions to collect a paycheck and get health insurance. Sound familiar?
Compare this to the life of someone self-employed or an entrepreneur. Venture capitalist and internet entrepreneur. Reid Hoffman, eloquently said ‘An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.’
This accurately describes the life of someone who wants to take a different approach to life. Someone who must live passionately and is driven by some higher purpose. They are willing to forgo the security of a steady income in exchange for the opportunity for unlimited income. Despite the extreme discipline and dedication, they will tell you they do not work at all. Why? They love what they do! It makes them feel alive.
Entrepreneurs take risks, make sacrifices, and endure hardship. The ultimate reward is freedom, a sense of accomplishment, and a flexible lifestyle that is entirely different from the mainstream lifestyle.
Interestingly, out of 185 million working-age Americans, 14% or 27 million are entrepreneurs today. They are either starting a new business or already have their own established companies. This is the highest number of entrepreneurs ever recorded in the US and goes to show how millennials and Generation Z have a different approach to life than their parents.
Why? Maybe technology has created more opportunities to niche out. Perhaps the allure of work-from-home in your sweats has winningly surpassed the “suit up and show up” mentality of the baby boomers. Or maybe, just maybe, that despite all the benefits of formal education, we are learning to value the independence and satisfaction of creating our own livelihoods. No longer are they willing to conform to the corporate culture and jump through the hierarchical hoops to get ahead. They are living authentic lives.
We have total respect for any hardworking human being who supports themselves in any ethical fashion, in whatever professional lifestyle they choose. For those who know that they are cut out to use their God-given talents to do something fantastic on their own, we wish you success as you pursue your passion.
If you hate your job and are merely enduring the days and weeks, living for a paycheck and a few benefits, you can make a change. It’s not too late, you are not too old, and there is something better for you. You owe it to yourself to live in line with your values, interests, and fulfilling work if you’re unsure where to start, with a career coach to find out how!