Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Quadcammer, Jan 8, 2012.
All the time
I've just turned 24. In university I kept good grades despite travelling 600 km every weekend (on my own dime) to work on the family farm and my dads business. I ran my own business (just a tutoring service, but I had 2 people basically paying me hourly for recommending them, and was a go between for a dozen other tutors), managed a sports team, and headed a student society. Graduated on time, into a terrible economy. Being from a border town, with the Canadian dollar high, family business was even worse. So I spent 1 1/2 doing physical labour for no pay, 60 hours a week.
I've finally left, but I'm 24, make minimum wage (first time in my life), no cash, no prospects, and I see all my friends with well paying gigs, finishing up MBA's and other master programs, or in med school. I cannot say I'm happy as to where I am. Nor do I ever see it really improving. On the other hand, I can keep myself fed, have a roof over my head, have a few super good friends I keep in touch with...and that's more than I can say for people I see on the streets. So it could be worse.
Not really. If I've done anything successful in the past couple years, it's that I've done a really good job of internalizing the prospects of my ambition. I've tried to set my life up so that everything I need to be happy is within my control to obtain or fix, which distances me from the agitation of relative material wealth. Conversely, I try to internalize my prospects of failures as well, so I don't lay blame for my failures, which is such a corrosive mentality. It's probably not possible to entirely prevent yourself from taking emotional interest in things that are beyond your control, but it's probably quite rewarding to explore the margins. It helps that I have some family and friends who are doing really well, but who are unhappy for the most part, which lends perspective. Also, it's a marathon, albeit a fast-paced one. Most people are a couple important moments away from setbacks and successes.
The more competitive you are, the more likely you are to be unsatisfied with your level of success. It's hard to be driven and contented at the same time. Most people are pretty miserable for a long time if they're fixated on pushing themselves as hard as they can, even if you totally get off on your job. Maybe it's worth it in the end, maybe not.
A lot of it depends on your peer group and your perspective. If I look at my high school class, I'm probably one of the most successful people. If I look at my graduate school class, I'm more or less average. I've decided that I'm fine with that, being average in elite company is ok for me. Being the best of the best is a lot of damn work, even if you're talented. Most people couldn't do it even if they tried their whole life, and it can be a recipe for perpetual unhappiness. I like having time at home, not being stressed all the damn time, etc. A cost of that is that I'm not in the top % of my field. It has some costs, but I feel that it'll be best in the long run.
I ended up settling on my personal philosophy in part due to my experience in sports. I was consistently in the top ~15 in the state (out of a couple hundred) when I competed regularly. When I tried national level competition, I rarely got in the top half. Some people push themselves until they're the best in the world. Me, I realized that between my talent level and the rewards I was getting, I was happier swimming in a smaller pond. I probably could have pushed hard my entire life and never gotten to that elite level, and would have hated it the whole time.
OP, if your happiness is based upon having more and earning more then you will never have enough. I am not preaching to you, because this is something which I have struggled with over the years.
I can still drink men half my age under the table. I am exactly where I want to be at this age.
Top 1/3 in my age group at any distance. Not really happy with that.
You know, the more money I make, the more I piss away.
I make less than 60k a year, counting medical and company car. I live with my folks in a posh neighborhood and basically live off them for most of my expenses. I don't even pay for gas or a landline.
I only work 5 hours a day, but am seeking work in my field (I am working on a Masters of Theological Studies, and have a B.A. in political science. I've worked in politics and it's a very rewarding job. I like it so much I've even volunteered for various things.
When I start thinking, "My buddy has a BMW while I've got a Jeep" I need to think, "I've got a Jeep and 50% of my friends own lousy cars or are walking. A big lesson to my ego was driving a 2004 Buick Century which had hood damage, side damage and eventually (the insurance guys eventually wrote off my car) major side damage while I was working out of town. I was lucky enough the guy who smashed up my car left a note. I went from driving a darn company car, to a 10yo Jeep Grand Cherokee which has features I'm very glad to have.
No matter how much you make, there are always more people making more money. Instead of looking at that, look how fortunate you are to be in your position. There are some jobs I'd gladly do for minimum wage, and some I wouldn't touch for 50/hr.
Good post. I'm not sure of it, but I feel like I'm in the lower 3rd of my graduate school class...which is disappointing. Its not really about talent or drive as you most likely know. A lot of it is connections and right place right time.
You're right, I'm not insanely stressed, and I have enough time to do basically what I want, which is nice.
And maybe thats ok? Maybe its a continual striving for more that will drive me? its not necessarily about material good, as I probably should have made more clear in my op. The salary itself is the reward. Its all bullshit anyway, all it is is numbers on a screen that decrease and increase. It almost doesn't feel real.
One thing I did in the past that seemed to straighten out my thinking was to withdraw a paycheck in cash. When you see that direct deposit is one thing, but when you take that money out in cash, it certainly seems more impressive and more real. Perhaps its time to do that again.
You should do this then walk to the nearest bar. Sit down, chat up the bar wench, and drink until your entire paycheque is gone.
I can do that! A product of being poor and young, my pay has not reached the "Kill me in one bender" stage.
When I was your age I was too poor to afford both booze and dinner. The simple solution was to drink Bloody Caesars all night and eat the olives and celery stalk with each one.
Lol. I've only drank on NYE for that exact reason. Alcohol is damn expensive, I may have to follow your advice. If I subsist of a bag of potatoes for a month, I can afford some some vodka. I'm sure the dollar store must carry some off-brand clamato juice. You are a genius, good sir.
Seems like the OP derives his happiness from without rather than within. But as another poster mentioned, that is the double edged sword of ambition.
I don't have as much ambition as I should given my skills but I'm actually quite content. Maybe New Yorkers should do a stint in California cause the lifestyle here is is vastly different and offers a different perspective on life.
OP - based on your profession and location, chances are you could quadruple what you are making / have now and you will feel the same.
The amount of money in and around NYC and (still) Wall st. is insane, particularly when you start to self-select yourself into certain areas/towns/stores/restaurants/ cars etc.
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