I love my parents. I really do. But when it comes to their thoughts on money and my life trajectory…
They warped me. Badly.
Sorry for being blunt, but they did.
I don’t hold any resentment. They weren’t trying to psychologically cripple their little four-year old when they made me pick between the doctor bag or the police hat. However, the very fact that I was prodded to make such a decision at a young age instantly shrunk my worldview. It left a huge impression.
Inevitably, all parents make permanent impressions on their kids. Not all of those impressions will be good.
Here are just a few of the lies we’re all led to believe:
“You have to choose a path for your career and stick to it. People who bounce around too much have no stability and always end up poor/unhappy. First choose… then worry about being fulfilled once you’re already there.”
“You need to go to school to get prepared for [insert x] career, and if you do decide to switch careers, you need school for that too. School is always a good investment.”
“Money isn’t everything.”
“A jack of all trades is a master of none.”
I know what you’re thinking.
“My parents never said any of this stuff verbatim.”
Well, they don’t have to come out and verbalize every single one of these. Many of these ideas are implied through actions, never said directly. That B.S. seeps into your subconscious and makes it hard to see the bigger picture.
Let’s break some of these lies down.
Lie #1: “You have to choose a path for your career and stick to it.”
Here’s my position: A career is just an occupation. That means it should keep you occupied until you find something else that you like better, pays better or interests you more. Like clothes, careers are disposable. They can temporarily dress us, but they will never define who we are as people. If you go into a career that you absolutely hate just for the money, you’re not going to like yourself just because of the money. You’ll only like the money, and every Monday you’ll dread getting up out of bed.
Depth is important, but it is only one factor to consider. Why not have experience in many fields over the course of a lifetime?
Lie #2: “You need to go to school and get prepared for said career.”
Straight up BS. I’ll tell you why:
The world is changing. Now, more than ever before, access to top-level education is available to anyone with a wifi connection and a desire. I’m talking Ivy League level stuff. No, we aren’t yet at the point where doctors and lawyers are being taught online. But, I think that if we first gather some self-awareness and realize that doctor/lawyer/engineer aren’t the only good career choices, most of us would probably want to do something different anyway.
One thing is certain: school is not indisputably a good investment, especially for entrepreneurs. The new economy demands a self-directed pursuit of knowledge. Take time to study and become passionate about things that you just can’t major in. Or take a mix of completely unrelated online courses and combine them with real world experience. That’s where the real ROI of educational synthesis comes into play.
Lie #3: “Money isn’t everything.”
This one is a whopper. Money isn’t everything. But it sure is a lot of things. It’s kind of like oxygen: we need it to make everything else work properly.
People who don’t have money talk down about it all the time. They try to pretend that they would be simply mortified if they had too much of it. They are lying to you. True, money itself is meaningless. Walking around with pictures of dead colonial slave owners doesn’t really light my fire. What lights my fire is freedom.
Money is a bartering tool that, used correctly, can be exchanged for freedom. It’s the power to have other people do the things for you that you don’t want to do or can’t do yourself. It’s the power to direct your focus where you choose by freeing up your time. This doesn’t mean that everyone with money is happy, or that everyone without money is unhappy. This also doesn’t mean that money cannot be abused. It frequently is by those who have a lot of it. In fact, money can actually end up trapping you and giving you less freedom than ever before.
For this reason, we shouldn’t be chasing money. We should be chasing freedom. Money is one tool to help us get closer to that pursuit, if we’re smart about it.
Lie #4: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
False. Being a “jack of all trades” is a mastery. Being experienced in multiple areas of the human experience makes for a more powerful existence. Think back to the Renaissance. Many of mankind’s greatest creators were well versed in several art forms and universally well-rounded. Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, mathematician, sculptor, philosopher and inventor. He did not approach a new subject that interested him and say “Gee, if I pursue this new study, I will never be a true master in any of my other studies. It’s too much for one brain to handle. Ahhhh! Better play it safe!”
Instead, he pursued multiple masteries and became great at several of them. Additionally, I don’t think you’ll ever find a true “master” that claims he or she has completely mastered their craft. A true master will tell you that their understanding is always evolving.
Satisfaction is derived from the constant reach for more. Reach should always exceed grasp. How else will you grow?
Written by Daniel Dipiazza, a contributor of entrepreneur.com