So this post is mostly for younger people or younger people maybe you know and talk to…
As you probably can tell, I’m generally a believer in the free market, capitalism, freedom, etc, etc. I think these have been generally good things for humanity for the last two hundred years. But I also know they aren’t perfect. For whatever reason, things are not always fair. I think it’s really, really important as an individual to acknowledge that and to generally work towards a more fair society, but also plan accordingly!
Some jobs are extraordinarily hard and don’t get paid a lot, some jobs are pretty fun and enjoyable and get paid a whole lot! Plan accordingly! It’s not fair that Wall Street money managers make huge amounts more than a scientist, but if making money is important to you go to Wall Street not to the lab. Understand the trade off you’re making, and plan accordingly!
For the last 20 – 30 years there has been this notion of “Just pursue your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life!” Well that’s nice, and sometimes it is true, but that sounds like one of those things that assumes life is fair and things just work out if you hope hard enough :). Here is a modified version of that… Find a good paying job that has some element of your passions in it and your work will be bearable. Ha, ha, not as idealistic is it? But here is the trick, and what I’ve been able to do and I’ve seen others do. Find a job that you like elements of, and then look around as your working. What seems interesting, what do you like doing that others don’t? Over time, you can move closer and closer to an ideal job. Most aspects of my job I really like at this point, it’s a better fit for what I like than previous jobs. There are exceptions to the rule, but many times shooting for the stars right off the bat may mean disappointment and possibly shooting yourself in the foot long-term. Of course that all depends on what your passion is 🙂
Now don’t get me wrong, I think passions are important and we should be pursuing them, but they don’t always have to be work related. You have time at night and on weekends to pursue all sorts of stuff… stuff that could someday turn into a career. Don’t let all the good stuff on the streaming services turn you into a “I should have, would have, could have” person. Use the time wisely!
In the end, I really do think people with almost any reasonable salary can get ahead in this world, if they are willing to sacrifice and make good decisions. But it does make it easier to move forward and create financial freedom if more money is coming in the door and you still are willing to sacrifice and make good decisions. Your career and what you are pursuing and aiming for have a big impact on all of that. Spend some time thinking about where you want to go and why, and be practical about it. Don’t let the culture’s views stop you from making good long-term decisions.