The following is something I wrote over a decade ago on my old (and now defunct) Dain Bramage blog. I thought it was worthwhile then. I think it remains worthwhile.
I've been mulling this over for some time. One of the things that bothers me is the idea that there are some sort of barriers that keep people from succeeding. Some will suggest that it is impossible to break out of poverty.
Impossible? Not at all.
Hard to do? Yup. It takes hard work and dedication.
But how to do it. That's the question. What follows is my answer to that very question.
- Go to school.
- Stay in school.
- Don't do drugs (alcohol and tobacco inclusive)
- Don't have sex if you can't afford to raise the results. Marriage before having children works best.
- Get a job [or better still, start a business]. Any job. Any pay. Work hard. It's called paying your dues.
- Get more education. A trade school. The military. College. Something. Something productive that is. It doesn't matter if you have to do it one class at a time. Make education a priority.
- Get another job [or start another business]. Work hard. Repeat as necessary. It's called climbing the ladder.
- Save. Make it a priority.
- Invest. Make it a priority.
- Avoid credit cards.
- If one is so inclined, get married and if the inclination is incurable, have kids....after making sure that you can afford to raise them. Somewhere between the ages of 28 and 40 is a good spot for most people if the other rules have been followed.
This is the sort of advice that I wish I'd been given when I was much younger. I've fallen into a couple of those traps and digging out is a bear. Better not to fall into one of them in the first place.
An afterwords of sorts. Over the intervening years, I have had a chance to interact with more people. One of the continuing observations that we encounter more frequently is that western society, and the United States in particular, contains certain cultural obstacles that make it harder for some people to succeed.
Well I agree to an extent. There are cultural obstacles to success. There are some people that start the race 100 yards behind the starting line. There are some people that have to run with higher hurdles in their lane.
None of that changes the utility of this advice. Where it is incumbent upon those that do not face those obstacles to help reduce those cultural barriers, it is equally incumbent upon those that want a successful life to assimilate the habits that create that success in the first place.