As the world continues to experience terrible companies, managers, and behaviors by the leaders who are above us in age and tenure, I can truly see opportunities for us millennials to make something out of ourselves.
However, many millennials are crippled by student debt and pegged negatively by other generations as being entitled and useless, when really, we could just use some guidance from others who have succeeded in today’s environment.
Here is actual advice, from one millennial (me) to another (you), that can actually help you succeed in today’s terms.
#1. Instead of agonizing over finding the perfect job, just start accumulating financial assets. Many millennials are overly dependent on schooling and prestige in what career they should choose. With Facebook and social media parading others’ successes, of course, you’ll feel terribly ashamed of yourself if you didn’t also find a fancy job in whatever field is trending during your graduating year!
Because of the combination of social bragging and brainwashing by society and schools that somehow only corporate jobs are respectable, many millennials graduate with over-idealized version of what a career actually is or requires. When they can’t achieve that career, they feel dejected, embarrassed, and further demotivated.
Instead, we need to dismantle our biases and snobbery. Try taking any job you can get your hands on to start making some sort of financial income. I did many of these jobs: waiter, car wash service, product promotion, retail, customer service, eBay seller, lawn mower, school tutor, maid, dog walker, and the list is endless.
Although I went to college with rich kids who didn’t ever work in a service job, I am grateful I always had to. Here I am at one of my jobs as a waitress at our family restaurant during college:
If you don’t work, you’ll never start to learn or get experience form the real world. It doesn’t matter where you start. It only matters that you work at all. Being a waitress taught me how to interact with people. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this skill would massively contribute to my future success as a headhunter!
When you’re just starting out, don’t ever think any job is below you. Some job is better than none at all.
#2. Now that we got that out of the way, maximize your earning potential. ESPECIALLY for millennials who graduate with high student debt. No corporate job starting at $65k will help free you from your debt burden at any decent pace. Sometimes even 6-figures isn’t enough to pay your MBA off.
The best strategy to maximize debt elimination is opening up your income-earning potential. If you’re interested in earning more than normal people do, consider sales jobs. Sales jobs are the easiest way to achieve financial success, especially if you didn’t grow up with a silver spoon. Sales is an even playing field; through your effort, learning, and application, you’ll start earning money you didn’t even know was possible.
3 years into my sales job as a headhunter, I made over $200k with a bachelor’s degree. Other headhunters with no college degrees were my VPs and even my CEO! As a salesperson, I learned so much about business creation, employee management, negotiation, human nature, and recruitment, that it was easy for me to parlay all of that knowledge into reaching retirement at age 28.
I helped pay off my dad’s bankruptcy debt by 25, paid off my student and car loans by 26, and was able to accumulate enough assets to invest in real estate, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. Without my abnormally high income through my sales job, that would not be possible!
DG TIP: As you start accumulating assets, learn to invest as much of your income as you can to continue having your money work for you. This is another form of income maximization; stretch out each dollar you earn.
Here I am with my dad enjoying a nice meal since I could finally afford it!
NOTE: If you don’t want to do sales, consider getting a second job in addition to your existing job. When “bad” debt is looming over your head, your #1 priority always should be debt elimination. Of course, debt can be leveraged in good ways (real estate). However, consumer debt, i.e. tuition loans need to be cleared asap to free your life up.
#3. In addition to increasing your income, simultaneously decrease your living costs. As our good friend Ben Franklin says, a penny saved is a penny earned. If you do not have much financial wealth, every dollar you’re spending frivolously is a dollar wasted and stolen from your future self.
Want to be successful? Cut down on drinking, drugs, excessive socializing, raves, bars, game nights, eating out, vacationing, and spending inordinate amount of money living in the hottest part of the city (high rent).
Sacrifice your short-term pleasure while you build up for long-term gain.
We all hate to hear this. But to be successful, sacrifice/self-discipline is the ONLY thing that can get you there. When you’re just starting your life, don’t get into the habit of thinking tomorrow will take care of you. Start changing who you are today. Don’t be victim to toxic social forces peer pressuring you to live a life a fake life on Instagram and Facebook.
The journey to success doesn’t have a start nor end date.
It’s an accumulation of all of your life’s experiences. There is no wrong or right move you could have done; there is only learning as we go along. As I write this, I constantly remind myself of these principles. Despite reaching a certain threshold of financial security, I know that my journey is far from over. I must continue to adhere to these basic principles in a positive mental loop.
When we earn income, we are driving our economic value and impact to our society. The proof is in our asset column. It’s no coincidence that many of our role models happen to be wealthy. No matter how much we may hate capitalism or paying taxes, our economic value as a valued member of modern society dictates us to make something of ourselves from a financial standpoint as the first step to more success.
Instead of rebelling against our system or feeling bitter, instead we need to embrace what our modern society truly is. When you have financial power, you have more options, freedom, and control over your life to start doing the things you truly want to. Find your economic and social value in the larger world beyond the microcosm you grew up within. Reap the rewards when you become the person you want to be.
Dandan is a headhunter, career coach, and speaker featured on Huffington Post, Inc.com, Apple News, Monster, and Time.
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