What Do You Want? - From Your College Experience?

When you are a senior in college you have invested 16 years of your life on education, not even counting pre-school and Kindergarten.  It is reasonable to ask, why?  What do you want?  Not from only from college, but from your life.

You have a much better shot of hitting a target with greater efficiency if you have even a general idea of what your are aiming at.

Think about it, why are you in College?  What do you want out of this?

I have asked thousands of college students at campuses all over America this question, and the answer generally comes back like this:

  • I want a job
  • I want to be successful
  • I want to be happy
  • I want to do something I love
  • I want to make a lot of money
  • I want to make a difference

Although these are admiral objectives, they fall far short of a complete answer.  I think there is an advantage in getting your thinking up, more strategic if you will.

Your parents suck at answering this question as much as you do.  When I ask them why do you send their children to college?  They obsessively say something to the effect:  “Because I believe they will have a better life with it than without it.”

That is true.  All the data suggests that chances are far better to become successful with a college education but that answer too, falls woefully short.

College is here as a tool to help you get to a place in your life.  You cannot be expected to know exactly what you want, but in general, with room to navigate as you grow, it is empowering to have a more substantial answer.

Again, after posing the question on many campuses, where students struggle to answer this, I take a shot and it is nearly universally embraced.

But first, imagine that with 16 years on education, there is a struggle to answer WHY. 

PS, the faculty struggles for a complete answer as well.  So does senior academic administration.

I think that all of that is, at minimum, noteworthy.

 Let me give it a shot.  You want to: 

  • Secure a lifestyle that makes you feel happy, successful, fulfilled and proud. This varies for all of us.  This is your personal decision to make.  Some people want to live more lavishly, some modestly, but the decision is yours.
  • Make that lifestyle debt free.  You will find that debt is the enemy.  Initially, often unavoidable, because you are starting with little to nothing.  But over your career you must eliminate it and certainly not take it on unnecessarily.  By the time you want to retire you MUST be debt free.  That has to be a goal.  Recent data suggest ~28% of peoples gross income goes to the mortgage on their house, and another ~20% goes to credit cards and short-term debt.  That means, once eliminated, life is half price.  Caution, those Baby Boomers who are retiring are doing so with more debt than every before.  Avoid that.
  • Acquire enough income producing assets to produce a free cash flow in order to cover you expenses, including the cost of quality healthcare, without you working.  We will dive into these in subsequent blogs but these are in the form of: 
  1. A business
  2. Real Estate
  3. Paper (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds)
  4. Policies (Pensions, Social Security, Policies such as Annuities)
  5. You want to accomplish this at an age where you still have your health and mobility

Why?  Because then you will have the discretionary time, and discretionary money to follow you hearts desire.  

How do I know this?  Because this is what everyone wants.

Notice I did not say, “stop working,” for if you want to work, keep doing so.  It is just then work would be at your pleasure.  Time to do whatever you want.  To live, to be free. 

Unfortunately, most do not get to this state.  But the odds are in your favor because you are becoming aware of what you want at 20 years old!  The caveat on this one is if you become aware and take appropriate action.  But, it all starts with awareness.

Finally, the fact that so many struggle for the answer is an illustration that our formal education system is stamping out talent without necessary life strategy, lacking key career/life skills and with little financial acumen.

The answer?  Take matters into your own hands:

  • Print out those four bullets and place them over your work area
  • Figuring out how you are going to get there.  If you struggle for the answer, fine, just keep digging for a plan that works for YOU
  • Now get busy

The Baby Boom is in trouble, don’t let that be you, dream big, start now, take control.

Good Luck!