A Guideline To Choosing Your Life's Path In The 21st Century

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This blog post is a reformatted edition of a three-part article to be published by the Frederick Bay Collective. Part 1 can be seen here, and part two can be seen here.

In the Native American tradition, when young men enter adulthood, they would embark upon a rite of passage called a vision quest. The young man would fast for four days and nights and would wander into the wilderness where he would pray and cry out to the spirits that he may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in their life.

If there is one thing that young men are missing in today’s world, it’s a coming of age ritual, a vision quest. In many ways, we are missing that in today’s culture, and disturbingly enough, choosing what we want to do and become in our lives is a strange, vague process that sort of metastasizes out of necessity. We’re about to graduate high school, so we better pick something that we wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of our lives, right?

Well, that’s up to you. It’s your choice how you live your life.

Because you are living in one of the greatest eras in all of the history, with greater freedom to learn skills, information, or anything else that you desire than our ancestors would have ever thought possible. You aren’t stuck in a caste system, nor shackled as a peasant underneath some medieval lord, you have all the power in the world to change whatever you would like.

But most people are living like they are still stuck in the industrial age. Maybe not physically, but in mind they are.

Stuck in a minimum-wage job? How many people are aware that they can build an online drop shipping business that can replace their income in a few months or a freelance writing business? Perhaps an eBay reseller, craigslist treasure hunter or a forex trader?

None of these things need a degree; you just need to be willing to learn.

So the question is, what do you want to do in your life?

Well, that’s your decision, nor am I going to say one specific pathway is better than another, but when deciding what to do in your life, allow us here at the Frederick Bay to start you off on your own vision quest by asking you a couple of questions.

 

How Do You Want To Live?

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is the kind of life you would like to lead, especially because most people are frankly doing the exact opposite. Most of us in our lives are taught to look at “what do we love to do” or “what would we not mind doing for the rest of our lives,” and accepting the kind of lifestyle that comes with our choice.

This is no different from picking a road based on how nice it looks, rather than where it ends up.

When traveling, we pick our destination first, then we find the suitable path to take us there.

If the biggest regret most seniors have is living a life too safe and within the comfort zone of normality, then let us ask ourselves what do we have to lose by trying the less trodden path?

Ask yourself what are the kind of things you want to experience in your life, and work backward from there to get a better idea of the paths you should learn about.

 

An Unscripted Life or a Scripted Life?

I read an amazing book by the famous internet entrepreneur MJ Demarco, Unscripted, where he says that one of the biggest contributors to happiness and a sense of fulfillment in life is how autonomous one feels.

Feeling like you’re just another cog in a corporate wheel, taking the same commute day in day out, doesn’t contribute to a sense of autonomy. Instead, imagine what it would be like when you’re doing own thing, starting an online business or practice, or your farm, or whatever it is you wish to do that is genuine to yourself.

It’s feeling like your abiding by a script that someone else, whether you mother, friends, or society at large wrote for you. Find out for yourself just how much autonomy you need in your life to feel like your in control of your destiny.

 

Risk Tolerance

Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon - The embodiment of risk tolerance.

Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon - The embodiment of risk tolerance.

A bit more on the practical side, but how much risk can you tolerate? Are you comfortable trying new things with potentially wild upsides that may leave your bank account in a terrible situation if things don’t work out? Or do you have responsibilities that you have to make sure are fulfilled before you try anything crazy?

Or perhaps putting yourself on the line gives you the impetus to get things done? You could be one who thrives on risk as a Mongoose thrives on his prey, the cobra.

Good news is even if you don’t have a high-risk tolerance, there is still plenty that you can do to get the life you are looking for.

 

 

So Now What?

How you answered these three questions should give you some insight into what paths in life you should follow.

But if you wanted to get started on that path what do you need to do?

Firstly, let’s quickly go over some basics, some universal ideas that can hinder or propel your success in whatever you do.

 

Get Rid Of Your Preconceived Notions

1.      Choosing to do your own thing or start a business doesn’t mean you have to work 70-100 hours every single week before you can start enjoying the fruits of your efforts. You can build a side project that makes 1-2k fairly easily while working only part time.

2.      You don’t need to have a lot of starting capital or take out expensive loans or have a business plan or any of that jazz. Nor do you need to immediately quit your day job if you don’t need to. From 9-5 you may go to your office, but from 5-12 you have the time to build your future.

3.       Failure is good! Most of us are taught that failing is bad, and are conditioned by school and employment to fail as little as possible. That is the exact opposite of entrepreneurship or doing anything on your own, where failing doesn’t exist, there is only learning.

4.       You will not find too much sympathy from society. If you expect comfort and reassurance from friends and family, guess what, you most likely won’t. Doing something unique and different takes some courage

 

Learn From Someone Who Has Done It Before

Have you ever tried learning Kung-Fu by yourself? Forget about it.

Have you ever tried learning Kung-Fu by yourself? Forget about it.

Perhaps the biggest key in all of this is finding someone who has done what you are trying to do and learning all that you can from them. Ideally, this would be an in-person relationship, but frankly, that’s not necessary.

Reading books, attending conferences, and listening to audio programs can function as an indirect form of mentorship that can be just as effective. Read our published article on speed reading, where we talk how Warren Buffet confessed the secret to his success was reading 500 pages a day.

Don’t be the person who thinks he knows everything himself. Learn from those who have already done what you’re trying to do and save yourself a world of time in the process.

 

Find A Way to Add Value to the World

Here is a secret to becoming successful;

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want.”

                -Zig Ziglar

It is impossible to be consistently successful in life unless you can add value to someone. The people who get ahead the most in life are those who can provide the greatest help to the world. Even shady financiers on Wall Street who seem like they aren’t doing much to justify the millions they may earn are still helping and adding value to their shareholders and bosses.

Ask yourself what is something that I can do to help someone, and how I can do so in a better way than anyone else.

 

Identify Your One Thing and Be Consistent With It! (Hint: Sales and Marketing)

Shout out to Gary Keller's book, The One Thing, which you need to read for yourself.

Shout out to Gary Keller's book, The One Thing, which you need to read for yourself.

In another article, I talked a little more about this topic in detail, so feel free to check it out here. But in summary, think of the Pareto principle, 80% of your success in any endeavor tends to come from only 20% of the things we do.

Whether that is cold-calling, pitching new clients, writing another blog post, researching new deals, or learning a new programming language, your one thing tends to not only get most of the results for whatever you are endeavoring; it also has an unusual tendency to be something we tend to procrastinate doing.

When it comes to self-employment, business, or entrepreneurship, your one thing, for the most part, will be sales and marketing. Every new business lives or dies on its ability to market itself and generate business.

If there is one subject, you should know like the back of your head; it's marketing.

 

It’s Not What You Do, But How You Do It

You can find successful people in almost every area of making a living, and you can find people who are failures in those same areas. A super successful doctor on one street, and one who struggles to make a living across the block. A lawyer whose practice is exploding versus one struggling to find business. A millionaire real estate investor versus one who can’t pay their basic living expenses.

So often someone asks “well what do I do?” Well, that’s not nearly as important as how you do it.

Here is an example, does carpet-cleaning sound like an amazing business model?

Probably not I imagine, and neither did I.

Yet did you know you can start a carpet cleaning business that can make extremely high revenues, teach yourself the skills within a week, rent a van, hire a couple of employees to outsource the majority of the work, and generate $20,000-$30,000 working perhaps 20 hours a week?

The point, it’s not carpet cleaning that is the gold mine, it’s the approach you bring to the business.

That same fellow could be just as successful starting a series of hot-dog stands.

You have successes and failures in every field, so don’t go worrying about what specific field, industry, area, or niche is the hottest at the moment.

 

The Roadmap of Your Life – Your Options

In general, people tend to fall into these categories regarding how they generate their income; these are the options you will have for the most part. Remember, you have the freedom to live however you want, so you are always able to change how you make a living later. Hopefully, if did some soul-searching earlier on in this article with those questions we asked, you can use those answers to decide better how you want to spend your life.

 

Employment

 

Traditional Employment

Low Risk – Medium Potential – Low Autonomy

Most people fall into this area by default, and there is nothing wrong with it. However, if you feel an ache in your soul, sick of the darn commute, and your Sundays are filled with dread of the coming Monday, that may be a sign this isn’t for you.

 

Remote Employment

Low Risk – Medium Potential – Medium Autonomy

Like a traditional job, except you don’t need to go to work at an office. In fact, as long as you have an internet connection, you can work almost anywhere in the world. These types of arrangements are rarer, and fewer types of jobs qualify for an arrangement like this, but in exchange, you have a greater sense of autonomy, you won’t be supervised/deal with office politics, you can work at home or the coffee shop, and there’s no commute!

 

Self-Employment

 

Owning a Practice

Medium Risk – Medium Potential – Medium Autonomy

The Lawyer or Doctor who runs their own practice would fall into this category, but I distinguish them from Freelancers due to the fact that owning a practice tends to root you into a single location, limiting some autonomy. More suitable if you're planning on settling down in a single location for a long period, where you can build up your client base and history in that area.

 

Freelancing

Low Risk – Medium Potential – High Autonomy

Writers, Designers, Programmers, and many more areas can transition into freelancing with ease. Freelancers have a higher degree of autonomy than a traditional self-employed person who has a physical practice, able to work anywhere around the world theoretically, while having the added benefit of not requiring as much start-up capital to get an advanced degree or lease a physical location, so it’s also a less risky option.

 

Entrepreneurship

Traditional Business

High Risk – High Potential – Medium Autonomy

This is what many people think when talking about entrepreneurship, having a physical store or office with employees. You’ll be your own boss, and have to handle the stresses that come from owning a small business. The start-up costs might be high, as well as your time commitment. However, this can also be highly fulfilling as well.

 

Online Business

Low/Medium Risk – High Potential – High Autonomy

Becoming an e-bay reseller, learning about drop shipping, affiliate marketing, Etsy distributorships, or some other internet based business has become easy with the sheer amount of information about starting an online business out there. This is an area that I would highly recommend, as it can be quite profitable, lucrative, and newbie-friendly as well.

 

Investing

Trading

High Risk – Medium Potential – High Autonomy

Forex, stocks, bonds, or any other commodity can be traded on the market, with stories of day-traders making millions becoming a dime a dozen on the internet. What they don’t tell you is that an extreme degree of emotional discipline is required, as well as a decent amount of starting capital.

If you are skilled, you could turn a consistent 1% increase on your starting capital per day when averaged out over the long term. However, it’s quite risky, and most significantly, you need to remember that short-term traders like Day, Week, and Swing traders work in a zero-sum environment, where for every winner there is a loser. It’s literally a dog-eat-dog world out there, so if you think this is right for you, make sure you learn to be the bigger dog.

Investing

Low Risk – Low Potential – Super High Autonomy

The ultimate dream, having millions of dollars invested in secured bonds, GIC’s and dividend yielding stocks. A great goal, but most of us are not in a position for this to be a reliable source of income…yet.

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Whatever you chose to do to with your life, remember that only you can make that decision. How soon you find fulfillment and happiness is going to be the day you start listening to your inner desires, rather than how others tell you to live.

Hope this helps.

Mark