I’m a huge fan of one of 2013’s biggest You Tube sensations, Kid President. In one of his breakout pieces, he had a great “pep talk for the people” where he offered some rather encouraging words and tackled a lot of very near and dear social topics for those of us trying to make it big in society. One of my favorite statements he made, though, was “Don’t stop believing… unless your dream is stupid. Then you should get a better dream”.
This brings up a great topic. The idea of dreaming big. For those of you who know me, I am personally extremely cautious and analytical by nature. As such, I am usually fairly reluctant to rock the boat or take a big risk in my professional career. It’s not that I don’t respect people that are willing to put it all on the line for a high-flyer or join the ranks of an unproven startup. That just isn’t in the cards for me right now. A safe and guaranteed source of income to pay the bills is what I have chosen to embrace right now, and my life up to this point has largely been filled with calculated moves that have put me in a position to experience moderate success with minimal risk.
I have long shared with my friends, though, that I don’t believe anyone should be allowed to really “follow their dreams” until they are at least 30 and in a sound financial place to do so. I am not saying that someone who is fresh out of school shouldn’t chase dreams and take a chance at something really big. Many of the greatest accomplishments in the last 10 years have been by folks who have chased dreams from an early age and, if they had listened to me, they would not have achieved such great successes. I just like to caution that starting too early often leads to failure and people accumulating a track record of skills and competencies that don’t leave them the opportunity to compete in Corporate America.
As I have stated before, I get really saddened when I see people go spend loads of money on higher education in predominantly liberal arts areas* (e.g. French History, Art Culture) only to complain that they can’t seem to find a job once they graduate and are unable to repay their student loans. I will also reiterate, though: I have nothing against those areas of society (in fact, I would argue just the opposite – I love the arts and gladly support those who are more artistically inclined than me at any opportunity), I just like to make sure people are making judicious decisions when it comes to their ability to live long, prosper, and provide for themselves (and their families).
So I don’t mean to tell you not to reach for the stars or dream big. I would simply behoove you to not let the stars you reach for totally cloud your ability to be a productive, contributing, and successful member of society in the short term. This may not be the most optimistic of posts for the first full week of the new year – but at least you know you’ll still be getting a healthy dose of reality from me in the year to come!
*This is not a direct indictment on these areas; I have seen boatloads of people with more “technical” degrees wind up being the people who can’t find a job either. Just an observation that I have more often seen the trouble with job placement with liberal arts degrees because I would imagine many of the jobs those studies/skills are best suited for positions (e.g. curator at a museum, director of cultural/history programs) that may be a little more impacted by recessions. I suppose that, when incomes are down across the nation, discretionary spending is cut from things like going to museums or entertainment shows first – hence less need for large workforce and a much more limited job market. This is by no means substantiated and pure speculation on my behalf though.
Til Next Time,