You can listen to my advice on the Addicted2Success Podcast below (just hit play!)
This article is Adapted from Chapter 2 of my new book:
If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the university route and, instead, spend 3-4 years working on a kickass, meaningful project that actually made an impact on the world.
I have nothing against college. In fact, I recommend you go if you want to do something specialized like becoming a doctor or lawyer or paleontologist. But if you’re reading this, chances are you don’t want to become any of those things.
In my opinion, every aspiring entrepreneur needs their first “Big Project.” I write about this extensively in my debut book, Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start An Epic Business, Score The Life You Want. The project should not necessarily be a job. It’s best if the project is something that you choose, you design and you fund.
By deeply involving yourself in things that you really care about, you’ll start gaining real, experiential knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that you can’t get in a classroom and is the sort of “raw material” that you can turn into an asset (a skill or product) that can eventually be sold.
To be clear, I’m not “anti-college.” I’m “pro-options.”
Many of us aren’t even aware that there is another way to find work that you love other than browsing through a catalog of majors and sitting in a lecture hall. Even if you read this and still choose to go to college (or you’ve already gone), you should be actively looking to improve your life and intentionally develop yourself by undertaking challenging experiences that you’re deeply interested in.
Here are a few life-changing projects to try instead of college:
1. Travel the world Traveling will give you an entirely new perspective and exposure to new cultures always gives you something interesting to talk about with other people. Visit places you’ve only read about, eat food you don’t recognize and make friends with people you otherwise wouldn’t have met. It’s good for you.
2. Start a business — The #1 thing starting a business will teach you is that failure is inevitable, and once you can get over that, you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding the next time. This is old school character building. Starting a business is also a great way to learn how to negotiate when people don’t like you, and convince other people to help you. Ready to get started but don’t know how? Here are 25 business ideas that any aspiring entrepreneur will absolutely love.
3. Volunteer extensively — Find a cause that you really care about it and give back in the biggest way possible. But don’t just dabble….treat it like a job. Give everything you have. Be a good human for no reason. It feels great — but you also learn a lot about yourself, the world beyond America, and others.
4. Become fluent in a new language — No, not with the same enthusiasm of high school Spanish — REALLY learn one. Work on becoming fluent, start to enjoy pieces of the culture that are typically reserved for native speakers (telenovelas, anyone?) then take an extended vacation to a country that speaks that language.
5. Create art — Painting, music, dance, sculpture; find something that really speaks to you and do it every single day — create something beautiful that you’re proud of. Commit yourself to mastering the craft. Apprentice with someone you consider a “master.” Immerse yourself in it. Then share it.
6. Compete in a sport — Learn a martial art. Start bowling competitively or learn chess. Hell, start a running club in your neighborhood. Do something physical with your time and force yourself to get better and better. Track your progress. Compete in tournaments. This is also a great way to get in better shape without trying. I can personally vouch for bodybuilding and jiu jitsu. They changed my life.
7. Become an expert at something that fascinates you — Like quantum physics? Devote the entire year to learning everything you can about string theory and become well versed in space-time. Create your own research studies and get them published in a journal. “Regular” people don’t do this. Be exceptional. Push your own intellectual boundaries and try to learn difficult concepts that scare you.
8. Write a book — Take my advice. Writing my debut book, Rich20Something, absolutely changed my life. There’s a good chance you won’t know what the hell you were talking about when you read your work again 20 years from now — but the main benefits of writing are meditation, reflection and habit building. You’re learning to control your thoughts and dedicate a set amount of time to something every day.
This Big Project will do incredible things for your life:
- It will show you that you’re capable of coming up with an idea and seeing it through to the end.
- It will allow you to create in a relatively low-stakes environment. You can’t really “lose” if the project doesn’t go well. (Another reason why it’s best not to consider your job a project.)
- It will teach you to creatively find resources that you need in order to complete the project. Especially because you probably don’t have a lot of money yet.
- It will help you to see your true path and connect you with others who are also looking for their path, which is similar to yours. (The first stage of networking.)
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve probably already finished college. Or you’re in college right now. That’s totally OK! You don’t have to drop out of school tomorrow or tear up your diploma in a fit of rage. It’d be funny to watch…but seriously, you don’t have to.
That said…no matter where you are right now, you MUST start the process of rethinking what it means to do your “life’s work” — which is a term too few of us use to describe our journey these days. What do you want the impact of your life to be? What type of uniquely meaningful work can you contribute to the world to leave it a little better than when you found it?
Whichever route you choose, you MUST start the process of rethinking what it means to do your “life’s work”—a term too few of us use to describe our journey these days. What do you want the impact of your life to be? What type of uniquely meaningful work can you contribute to the world to leave it a little better than when you found it?
Figuring out the answers to these questions is your first step toward becoming a Rich20Something.
If starting a business is part of your life’s work, then you’re going to love my new book Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start An Epic Business, Score The Life You Want.
When I first started my journey into entrepreneurship five years ago, this is the book I wanted to read. Turns out I was destined to write it instead.
I have to tell you guys … it’s taken me an incredible amount of effort to get this work into the world. From the very seedling of an idea three years ago, through the grueling process of pitching agents and publishers, to the actual writing process. I truly left everything on the page with this one—and I’m hoping you’ll benefit from it.
The great thing about this book is that I’ve distilled all the critical parts of figuring out what you want to do with your life, developing your business and leaving the 9-to-5 forever.
(Including the process of scaling your money from 5 to 6 to 7 figures.)
A small sampling of the topics covered in the book:
- Why most people can never think of a profitable business idea, and how to become an idea machine
- How to completely destroy your fear of failure and pounce on the most important opportunities
- Hustling 101: How to make your first $100,000 on the side
- Why you should never network again, and how to befriend powerful influencers who will gladly help you
- From freelancer to entrepreneur: How to create an online business that prints money while you sleep
- How to eliminate distractions, get laser focused, and crush your goals
- The mental tools and daily strategies I use to consistently create world-class work
In total, the book has more than 300 pages of detailed strategies, crazy anecdotes and larger-than-life personalities—including case studies from over a dozen wildly successful entrepreneurs who will tell you exactly how they did it.
Grab it here. Consume it. Start your dream business. Live an incredible life.
Image Courtesy of Twenty20.com