About goals and personal development
We all strive to become better in our job and become better in handling life, right? Updated August 2018
Times are changing
Humans today are a thousand times better informed than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Our Smartphones are just a digital extentiosion of us and through internet, the whole world is changing. Not only the way we communicate or the way we learn and get information, it’s the whole thing that is going through a massive transformation.
Reading this means means you live in Germany or a country with similar standards. Then you are most likely just very different from your parents. It means what you care about is not security but freedom, not stability but variability. At least that’s how I feel about my friends and peers, the whole generation between 1985 and 1995, the kids you call young professionals today.
A short intro to generation Y
Most people of my age, the famous Generation Y, Bdemand of themselves to chose the right path for their life. What I mean is that we are looking for true fullfillment, and it’s harder than ever. Should we study engineering, open a restaurant, or maybe become a DJ? The problem about today is that there are too many options. It’s possible to move to almost any country in the world and become anything.
While older generations were predefined by a strong social framework, the generation of internet and social media grows up with at least ten times the opportunities. On top of having many opportunities, it is far easier to visualize our dream life, because we can find and follow role models online and get a taste of their life by consuming the content they put on their social media profiles.
But why is it so different? The history of your parents and family is far less important today than it used to. Back then, if your dad was a farmer, you would most likely become a farmer too, or at least someone who works with his hands. Today, if your dad is a farmer, good for him. But you’re not predefined to step in his shoes. You can still become a web developer, an Entrepreneur, a lawyer, a psychologist, or a digital nomad. It’s as easy as it sounds, isn’t it?
Yes it is. I believe today it is really true that everbody can become anything. But on the other hand, it is not. What doesn’t change is that you still have to devote time to build your life. You still have to put those 10.000 hours of energy into learning to become good and develop a valuable set of skills. This is especially true if you want to build your own company.
One interesting thing that everybody loves today is travel. Traveling became fairly cheap and easy. And since we can only laugh about the bottom of the Maslow pyramid, we strive for fun and self fullfillment. Everybody loves to travel and enjoy life, but how do you set yourself up to reach all of your goals, including financial stability, travel, family, and self fulfillment? For those who want a mediocre life with the benefits of the 21 century, life is quite a no brainer. Study, find a job, don’t waste your money, and you will have everything you need to do 1-2 nice trips per year, save some money by the end of the month and be set for retirement.
It is for the big thinkers with high ambitions to make the right decisions about how to design their lifes. It’s for the people who want to make the best out of the opportunities they are granted. Following the path that 90% of your peers are choosing, the end of the road leads to a very good and decent life. But what does the road less traveled look like? It looks great and very broad, if you’re willing to give whatever is necessary to reach your goals. And one universal approach to go from mediocrity to excellence is by becoming extremely good in what you’re doing for a living.
Find something useful that you really like
Let’s bring it down to one factor that always counts: The Benjamins. Unless you’re working in investment banking or consulting (or the few others) and are willing to devote the first five to ten years after university to work, it’s really hard to get close to a six figure income before turning 30 or 35. But money will buy you freedom, unless you’re stuck in an office 50, 60 or even more hours a week. Looking at big law firms, they throw six figure salaries at kids who just graduated, expecting them to devote at least 70 hours a week to work.
It’s really an option. But it also comes with high cost. There’s another and way simpler way to make good money and increase your freedom. And the most important: It works for everyone.
While thinking “it’s not about the money”, it’s very true that the goals you set usually need money to fullfill (“happiness” excluded). But money should never be the motivation, unless you want to be driven not by a intrinsic cause, but by an extrenal trigger. Nobody wants that. That’s why it is so important to find the kind of work that you’re really passionate about, the kind of work that you love doing. If you love something that is completely useless, it’s your own fault. But there is most likely a skill or field that you really like that is valuable to people or companies.
And that’s what it’s all about. If you find something you love and devote your time to it, you will be extremely good in what you do. Being so good means there will be people or companies happy to pay good money for your service or knowledge.
And then strive to become the best in what you’re doing.
By becoming very good in what you’re doing, you will earn more money, more freetime, more social proof, more everything. This is nothing new and when I read articles on entrepreneur.com, forbes, gruenderszene.de or any other business and entrepreneurship related magazine, it feels like every second post is about “5 things you have to do to become succesful”. Those articles will tell you to 1. never stop learning, 2. focus your time, 3. see opportunities, 4. find mentors, and so on.
Bringing it down to one simple thing is this: Find what you love, become good at it, and make sure it’s a skill that is valuable.
If you love it, you will inevitably become good at it.
Be driven by intrinsic cause, not by money
I really enjoyed my life as a child. No “rules”, no boundaries, everything was possible. Entering the real world, it’s tempting to lose everything childish. Rules everywhere and and live seems so limited. But like Steve Jobs said, once you realize that you can build and create your own things and that you can shape life, you will never be the same again.
Don’t leave it to luck or external factors. Start making decisions, be proactive.
But leaving it to pure luck will not work. It’s already enough luck to be born in Germany in 1989. Being born in another country or another time could have been way, way worse. Just appreciate the luck you’ve being granted and realize the rest is up to you.
So, considering that I already used all the luck I was granted (not true, I think we need luck on a daily basis), I believe that continuous growth, focus, and openness to opportunities are the right ingredients for a successful cooking session called life.
This is why I spend my time reading, learning, thinking. Being driven by the desire to be good at something or to reach a goal is the first and most important step to creating value for yourself and for those around you.
So don’t chase the money. Money will come as a result. Chase the dream to build something that will outlast you, or to make the world a better place, or whatever it may be you would devote your energy to.
What you learn in school today will be irrelevant in 20 years.
Look at the most successful people on earth and don’t look any further. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg and many others strive for continuous personal development. Sometimes I look at myself and think about where I would be now if I never found out that by keeping on learning, I would become a better version of myself over time.
That’s usually a good trigger for myself to take a break from doing useless stuff (e.g playing DotA). I’ve been there and I’ve realized how important it is to improve myself continuously.
To be very practical: By striving for personal development, I managed to jump the career ladder and increase my salary a couple times in the last 2-3 years. So this really turned out to be worth it.
But there’s more to it. Our school system is completely outdated. What kids learn in school will most likely be completely irrelevant by the time they turn 30. This is mainly because no one really knows how the future will look like exactly 20 years from now. Things will change way faster than they used to, and one sure way to stay up to date is to teach the young generation the art of lifelong learning.
How to do this is out of my expertise. All I know is that the world is changing fast, and that I don’t want internet companies to pull the strings of my life behind the scenes and manipulate me.
Focus on whats important
We only have a couple years on this planet. Actually, unless you’re Elon Musk, making a difference in only one field is a task that will consume a whole lifetime.
Thats why it is so important to focus on only a couple things and never lose sight of what’s important in life. Is it business, travel, family? For me it’s all of that. I believe I can be succesful in business, travel the world and have a healthy family all in one lifetime. Is it a big goal? I don’t think so. It’s achievable for anyone. And I am willing to do anything necessary to get there.
“Success” has a thousand faces.
What’s important for you?