I’ve been given the opportunity to speak to a number of high school and college graduating seniors. The one common question from both groups, I get frequently, is “how can I get my dream job?” It’s a simple question, with about one million possible answers. Which makes it a tough question to answer in front of a group.
I think I might have found the perfect answer to this question. From Penn State football coach, James Franklin, when asked at a conference how does a graduate assistant move up in the college football coaching ranks:
“It comes down to people and opportunities for growth. I always tell people to stay broke for as long as possible. When you have a car payment and other things like that, it becomes a factor. Keeping money out of it allows you to chase your dreams longer.”
Stay broke as long as possible.
Internet personality, Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), says basically the same thing when people ask him how they work at something they just love to do. He will tell them you need to then live the lifestyle that affords you the ability to do what you love. If you love to pet puppies all day, you can’t live in a mansion! You’ll probably live in a box.
But, if that’s truly your passion in life, then that’s what you need to do to make it happen. What he finds is people who are willing to lower their lifestyle to do what they love are usually the ones who end up making money doing what they love. The theory being they found a way to live doing what they love, and little by little, they’ll find a way to make money doing what they love. Most people are unwilling to change their lifestyle to do what they love.
I remember back to when I first got out of college and was making $20,000 at my first job. The reality was, I could have gone almost anywhere and made $20,000. The money wasn’t the draw of the position, the opportunity was. If it wasn’t for me, I could go and try something else. I had a crappy car and $400 per month apartment. I didn’t have life obligations that were going to stop me from chasing a dream.
Fast forward five years and now I have a new car, a new house, and a new kid. Chasing a dream would be much more difficult.
You hear it all the time, chasing dreams is for the young. Not because the young necessarily have better dreams or are better equipped at chasing dreams, it’s because the young can ‘afford’ to chase their dreams. They, usually, have little holding them back, financially. The older you get, the more responsibilities you have and the larger tax bracket you’re usually in.
Leaving a $20,000 job to chase my dream wasn’t going to be a problem. Leaving $100,000 job to chase my dream was going to be a problem.
No one really wants to tell you this in their ultra-motivational writings and speakings. “Go chase your dream! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you!… Just be prepared to have nothing for a while!”
We never get to hear that last part.
Want to be an NFL Referee? It’s a great gig! You just have to put about 15-20 years in at being a referee at every other level where you make peanuts and have to work other jobs to make ends meet. Yes, you can get there. No, you won’t get rich getting there.
You can definitely go out and work towards getting your dream job. Being broke will help you with that. It takes away the fear of failure and losing what you have. If you have very little, losing it doesn’t seem as bad. If you have a nice life, giving it all up, seems extremely hard.
Being broke, in a very ironic way, gives you more options, when it comes to a dream job!
At the other end of the spectrum there is looming retirement. So many baby boomers are approaching retirement age and thinking they have to work until they die. So many haven’t saved or invested enough or are scared that they will run out of money before they die. I like to think that if you want something bad enough you’ll find a way. You don’t necessarily have to stay broke but you have to completely change your lifestyle, sell everything and start over. I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing.
My wife and I discuss riding a motorcycle with a side car to all the state parks in our retirement. That will either mean having our kids finish paying the mortgage several more years (probably not) or giving up our lifestyle.
We just got back from Canyonlands National Park and I met a retired couple at the gas pump where we stayed on the Utah/Nevada border. Ironically, they had a motorcycle with a side car and had just sold their motor home.
The hardest part is giving up a lifestyle that you have become accustomed to for so many years. That is why Tim Sackett’s suggestion is such a good one. If you never had that lifestyle it’s a lot easier living without it.