Tag Archives: Planning

Why Being a Poser will leave you Broke

Honesty

Can we be really honest for just a minute? I have a question for you.

Are you a poser?

I’m guessing most of you know what a poser is, but if not, here’s what Google says…

Poser

Posers

So by Google’s definition, I’m guessing we’re all posers from time to time. Honestly, who doesn’t try to use money to impress others in some way or another? We buy clothes that may be just a little out of our price range. We drive nicer cars than we can afford so we lease them or take out loans. We buy dinner for our friends knowing that it’s going hurt later. Heck, even our cell phones say something about our status so we pay whatever we have to for them even if it costs us an arm and a leg.

Impressing other people isn’t cheap.

Sometimes we even feel such a strong need to impress others that we do it at great financial harm to ourselves. Take college selection for example.

As students start looking at colleges and begin to decide where they want to go, they have to process a lot of important school information: location, transportation, degrees offered, tuition costs, room and board costs, financial aid packages, work opportunities, etc.

The Elusive Prestige

Of course these are all really important and really smart things to be thinking about. But here’s the deal, 18 year olds aren’t only thinking about those things. If you’re going to college soon, chances are you’re thinking about less tangible, less quantifiable things; things like the culture of the school, the “fun-factor”, and how prestigious the school is.

A lot of high school seniors (and their families especially) are really concerned about that last one; prestige. Again, we turn to Google…

Prestige

Prestige is really, really important to a lot of students and their families when choosing a college. It’s as if certain colleges seem to be able to offer a higher level of esteem, respect, and status to their graduates. Highly esteemed colleges produce better quality graduates that are more desirable in the marketplace, right?

Certainly if employers knew you went to one of these highly respected schools they would be much more likely to offer you a job over the common shmuck that went to the community college down the road, right… right?

Well, probably not.

Honestly, employers are really not all that concerned with where you went to college. There are of course some careers that are an exception to this rule, but they are certainly not the norm. The truth is after you graduate college the only person who cares about where you went to school is you.

“Only the Best” Mentality

You’ve probably heard that you have to get into the best possible school that you can. This is taught to students all the time from teachers, counselors, and family members. Let me be the first to tell you, It’s not true. It sounds great but its horrible advice.

Better advice would be that you have to get into the best possible school you can realistically afford and that offers the best return on investment.

Just because you get accept to a prestigious school doesn’t mean you can afford it. It also doesn’t mean you should take out a life time of student loans to go there.

You really have to think these things through.

The kindergarten teacher who graduated with $150,000 in student loans isn’t going to be getting paid any better than the teacher who graduated with $10,000 in student loans. Remember, the only person who cares where you went to school is you.

So before you decide to sign on the dotted line and agree to take out a massive student loan in order to get into that super cool school, think about your motives. Who are you really trying to impress? Is their brief and passing admiration worth it? How super cool will it be when you have to pay $600 a month in student loans until you’re 40? How prestigious will it be when you have to move back into your parent’s basement after graduation because you’re broke?

Think about it. That’s all I’m asking.

As a guy who graduated from a rather expensive private university with a degree in education, I feel like I have a pretty decent understanding of this whole idea of getting a good return on investment for a college degree. I learned the hard way though. I spent too much plain and simple. I didn’t learn that until years later though.

So tell me your story. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Comment below to share.

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20 Summer Vacation Ideas for High School Students

Making the most of Your Summer Vacation

Ah summer vacation; that magical time of the year when you can set aside all the deadlines and demands of the school year. Finally, you get to kick back and relax. You worked hard all year long, you deserve a break from the routine. So what are you going to do with all your newfound free time?

I’d like to make a few suggestions.

  1. Get a Job
  2. Do an Internship
  3. Job Shadow Different People
  4. Volunteer
  5. Go on a Missions Trip
  6. Start a Blog
  7. Start a Business
  8. Participate in a University Program
  9. Learn a New Skill
  10. Read –A Lot
  11. Sports
  12. Computer Courses
  13. Online Education
  14. Clubs
  15. Hobbies
  16. National Programs
  17. Take an SAT Prep Course
  18. Community Service
  19. Summer Camp
  20. Take Lessons

 Focus

There are a thousand great things you could be doing this summer to ensure you have a meaningful and worthwhile summer vacation; but, you can’t do it all. My recommendation to you is that you focus. Pursue only those things that align with your passions and talents. College admission officers want to see a theme not a hodgepodge of activities. Think laser beam, not shot gun. They want to be able to look at your transcript, extracurricular activities, and summer vacations and get a very clear picture of who you are and what you are all about.

So what are you doing this summer? Have any plans? If you do, share them here. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great summer vacation!

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When Do I Start Preparing for College?

The best time to plant a tree

You’ve probably heard this quote a million times, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Well as it turns out, this principle applies to more than the casual arborist.

I believe that there’s no such thing as planning too early for college. Let me say right off the bat that I am not endorsing that every student should go to college. College is awesome; but, it is not for everyone.

That being said, I do believe that everyone should prepare for college. Regardless of if you decide to go to college or not, you need to have the option available to you and in order to have this option available you need to plan early.

So back to the question at hand, when should you start planning for college? Well, the earlier the better. In fact, college planning shouldn’t be something you wait until high school for.

Pre-K College Prep

College prep starts before kindergarten. No you aren’t practicing the SAT in pre-K, but you are exploring the world and discovering new and exciting things each day. All throughout elementary school you are learning about the world around you and more importantly you are learning how you fit into that world. You’re learning what you like and what you don’t like. You’re learning what your good at and what you love to do. That is some of the most important college prep you can do!file0001034424148

The Exploratory Middle School Years

By middle school, you’ve probably already figured out what kinds of things you’re good at. You know what you like and you know what you don’t. You’ve starting to think more about what kind of adult you will be. By the end of middle school, you’ve probably had a chance to learn about different careers through observation, shadowing, studies, or some other influence.

High School – Crunch Time

High school is when the more traditional college prep takes place. For a lot of students the light bulb doesn’t click until late in their junior year or even the beginning of their senior year. It’s about this time that the realization sets in that there’s a lot of work that goes along with getting into college. The truth is the earlier you start the less stressful it will be. As a freshman you can start preparing for college by doing a lot of simple things over the course of the next few years. Some examples include:

  • Take the required courses early.
  • Take the PSAT early and often to try for valuable scholarships.
  • Learn how to take the SAT and/or ACT and take it as early as possible and as often as necessary to obtain a high score.
  • Get involved in projects and take leadership roles in those projects.
  • Visit colleges, attend college event, s and talk to admissions staff and students.
  • Start saving money.

The list could go on and on but I think you get the point. College preparations don’t just take place your last two years of high school. So if you haven’t started yet, you need to.

“The best time to prepare for college is 20 months ago. The second best time is now.”

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I want to hear from you. What are you doing to prepare for college? When did you start preparing? Was the process stressful, simple, fun, nerve-wracking? Parents, are there any pressing college prep concerns you’re facing? Let’s start the conversation.

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Don’t Know What to Do?

What do you do if you don’t know what you want to do for a living? Some people have easily identifiable passions and interests. Some people don’t. Some of you will have to spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting to figure out what it is that you are passionate about.

62%

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

According to a recent survey 62% of high school seniors indicated that they need assistance with their educational/occupational plans.  For those of you who hate math as much as I do, that’s over half.  The majority of high school seniors today are admitting that they need help figuring out their plans for the future.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think that number decreases after high school; at least that’s what my experiences have led me to believe.  Actually, I think it probably increases.

As adults get older they get better at hiding the fact that they still don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives.  They can put on a good show and act like they’ve got it all together. Some genuinely do.   Most, say 62% probably don’t.

My dad always told me that whenever an adult asks a kid, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” that they are really just looking for ideas.

I think he’s right.

In my experience I’ve seen two basic reactions people have to not knowing what they want to do with their life.

Reaction 1:

They dig in their heels. They do whatever they’ve been doing. They dream of change and hope for change, but never take any action. They begin to believe that they are unable to change their situation. They mistake complacency for contentment. This breeds bitterness and hopelessness.

Reaction 2:

They get help. Help can come in many forms. Help may be a good book, a motivating podcast, or an encouraging friend or coach.  Help may be talking with your parents or loved ones and letting them know how you feel. Seek help and take action. Doing this tends to build energy and focus. This breeds hope.

Don’t Fake It

Pretending that you know what you want to do when you really don’t can be disastrous. Don’t fake it. When you start pretending, you become passive and start losing control of your life. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, your situation becomes unwieldy and uncontrollable.  62% of high school seniors are saying they need help. If you need help admit it, get it, and move forward.

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The Most Expensive Degree Ever

48%

The Most Expensive Degree

Do you know what the most expensive degree you can get is? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t medicine. No, it isn’t law either. Fine, I’ll give you another hint; it’s one of the most common degrees in America; in fact, 48% of all college graduates have this type of degree.

Give up?

Okay here it is. The most expensive degree is…

(Drumroll please)

…the degree you don’t use.

That’s right; the degree you don’t use is the just about the most expensive degree you can get.  I recently read an article on Forbes that stated that 48% of bachelor level college grads in the U.S. are working in jobs that don’t even require a four year degree. That’s almost half of all college graduates that went to college and got a degree only to ignore it completely.

It makes sense though.

At 18, high school students are being ushered into the higher education system with very unclear plans for their future. Honestly, how much time do you think most students get to spend with their guidance counselor?

How much did you spend with one?

Have a Plan

A lot of young adults are getting ready to head off to college without knowing what they want to do.  They are going because it’s the path of least resistance or maybe they are going because they’ve been told it’s the key to success. They are kind of right. A degree is important, but it’s not the key to success it’s a key to success, and it’s only a key to success if it aligns with your passions and your talents and if you have thought of a feasible way to make money using the degree after you get it.

You don’t want to be one of the 48% of graduates who spent 4 years and a boat load of money on a degree you aren’t going to use.  Have a plan in place. Identify your passions and talents. Choose a degree that is necessary to get you to where you want to be. Spend some time thinking about what you want to be doing with your life before you start filling out college apps.

There’s no such thing as too early to start planning for your future.

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Hope: Your Biggest Enemy

Hope is Bad?

I was listening to an interview on the EntreLeadership podcast this week and heard a phrase that really caught my attention:

“Hope might be your biggest enemy.”

I heard that and instantly thought; rubbish! How can hope be anything but noble and wonderful?  It’s a virtue and something we all should be full of. Like me, maybe your mind went to the Bible verse 1Corinthians 13:13 about abiding in faith, hope, and love. Maybe you thought about President Obama and how his entire campaign centered on the theme of hope. Perhaps you thought of the acronym “Hold On Pain Ends” or maybe some other encouraging quote or phrase.  How could we possibly think of hope as anything but a positive thing?

The podcast was an interview of Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Necessary Endings, and he says that hope might be your biggest enemy because hope placed in the wrong thing can be disastrous. It can take you in the wrong direction for far too long. Hope must be based in reality and in truth. Take for example Jim.

Jim

Jim decided at 16 that he wanted to become an astronaut when he got older. He loved the idea of studying the stars and maybe even traveling to space. He wanted to use a giant telescope and discover new planets.  It’s all he had ever hoped for. Unfortunately, he hated math and he hated science.

Not only were Jim’s grades not very good in those subjects, but he also had little interest to study them or improve his grades. In his mind and in his dreams, however, Jim imagined himself as an astronaut. He held out hope that his dreams would come true somehow.  Jim hadn’t even thought about doing anything else. He continued the rest of his high school career planning on becoming an astronaut. When it came time to apply for college his grades held him back from getting into any college that had an aerospace program, but he never lost hope.

After graduating, Jim moved to Florida in an attempt to get a job working for NASA. Jim hoped that if he could just get hired doing a menial job he might just be able to work his way up the ranks. He held onto hope through the tough times and when he became discouraged he imagined himself standing on the moon with the American flag in his hand. Jim did this a lot as he mopped the halls of the Kennedy Space Center.

It’s a fine line between being delusional and being hopeful. At what point should Jim have given up hope?  Is it safe to say that he isn’t going to become an astronaut? How much happier would he have been if he could have stopped placing his hope in an unobtainable dream and instead allowed himself to imagine a new dream. Hope is a good thing, but there are times when realizing something is hopeless is necessary.

Should I Be Hopeless?

It would be impossible for me to come up with a formula or easy explanation for you to determine if your situation is hopeless. Everyone is unique and their experiences are unique; however, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you’re on the right course.

  1. Am I passionate about the direction I’m going?
  2. Do I feel that I have the ability and a special talent for what I am doing?
  3. Am I full of anticipation and excitement? Or am I dreading the path ahead of me?
  4. Are the steps needed to get to my goal measurable and obtainable for me?
  5. Can I define what a successful outcome will look like?
  6. Do I have a timeline to reach my destination?

Don’t Stay HopelessStubbornness

Hopeless is not a destination, so don’t stay there. Take a minute and look at your situation. Look at where you’re at and the results you’re getting. Be honest with yourself.  Do you need to change directions?  If you are heading in the wrong direction, then stop. Turn around and start plotting a new course. Don’t mistake stubbornness for determination.

The quicker you can ditch your delusional hopes and change course, the quicker you can arrive at your new destination.  Imagine if you were driving your car east in an attempt to get from New York to California. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how determined you are, or how much you want to get to California.  It isn’t going to happen until you realize you made a mistake and you need to turn around and head west.

It can be scary when you realize you need to change directions, you may feel lost and desperate.  It doesn’t have to be like that.  Let feelings of hopelessness work for you. Embrace them as guideposts and as opportunities for you to examine the path you’re on and start a new and exciting journey.

So here’s to the hopeless!

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Decisions: Part 2

Every day we are faced with countless decisions that will alter our path in some way or another. I recently read an article that stated the average person makes over 5,000 conscious decisions a day. That’s almost 2 million choices a year. We weigh these decisions differently of course and make the majority of them in a split second. Some of these choices we look at as insignificant and others as life altering, depending on the person.

Take getting dressed in the morning for example. When I pick out what I’m going to wear in the morning it takes me about 10 seconds. Literally, 10 seconds, and 5 of those 10 seconds are groggily spent trying to find the closet door in the dark. Obviously, I don’t place a lot of value in this area and thus, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. There are however, those of you that place a lot of value on what you wear each day and go to great lengths to perfect your style and make a statement with your appearance.

Chuck Taylors

The vast majority of the decisions you make over the course of your life will have a relatively small impact on its outcome.  Captain Crunch or Cheerios, Chuck Taylors or Air Jordans, skim or 1% milk; regardless of your choices, in most areas your life you will keep going down a certain path.

However, there are some pretty big choices you will make that can and will significantly alter the path you find yourself on. The following are some (not all) of those big life changing decisions, placed in the order in which a lot of you (but not all of you) will face them. In fact, you may and probably will find yourself faced with some of these decisions multiple times in your life.

  1. Your decision on hobbies and extracurricular activities
  2. Your decision on spirituality/religion
  3. Your decision on education after high school
  4. Your decision on a career path
  5. Your decision on where you will live
  6. Your decision about a spouse
  7. Your decision about family

The first three, possibly four, life changing decisions you will make can take place while you are still in high school. Let that sink in. Over half of the life changing decisions you will make in your life can be made before you graduate high school.  Imagine your life as a book and you are writing the table of contents right now. You have the rest of your life to fill in the details, but the core content, the outline, you are putting into place today.

You are currently making the decisions that you will be living out for the rest of your life.

Your decisions matter.

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How Do I Identify My Passion?

Identifying your passion is one of the first and most important steps in creating a plan for your future.

Too many people brush this question aside when planning their future vocation. They think it is trivial. They instead look at “grown-up” things like, what industries are showing the highest growth rate right now, or what do others expect me to do. Some choose careers that are safe, guaranteed, or respectable. Many people even make decisions based solely on what they are good at or what others have told them they are good at.

Most of these are actually pretty smart ideas.Trust Me 2

But passion isn’t all about making smart, logical, and intellectually sound decisions. This is where your heart comes in. For just a moment turn off the logic part of your brain and give your heart some freedom.

You don’t want to wake up every morning, roll out of bed, and have to give yourself a pep talk just to get out the door and go to work. Way too many people do this every morning. They go to work because they have to. They live for the weekends.

This is normal.

But trust me; you don’t want to be normal. Normal is unhappy, unmotivated, unproductive, uninspired, and passionless.

Wouldn’t you rather wake up in the morning and be ready to work because you’ve had a million exciting ideas going through your head all night long? Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where your work and your personal life are not at war with each other but complement each other and blend together like a beautiful watercolor?

Figuring out your passion requires looking inward.

What are the things that you talk about the most with your close friends?

What do you do with an unexpected free day when school is canceled?

What books are you reading that are not required?

What do you think about when you find your mind drifting?

What movies do you enjoy?

What extracurricular activities do you find most enjoyable and why?

What do you look for in new friends and what qualities do you value most in your close friends?

What do your friends and family say you talk about all the time? What can they not get you to shut-up about?

 magazineOne simple trick to discovering your passion is to go to your local book store, walk over to the magazine section, and pick up the first three magazines that you find interesting. Take them to a table or a reading area and glance through them. What is it about those magazines that you like? Is it the artwork, the photography, the articles, the advertisements? Did you grab those magazines so that you can learn something new and share it with your friends? Did you pick something that will help you better yourself? Did you grab them because you want to stay up on the latest trends? Try to spend at least 30 to 45 minutes (or until the staff scowls and tells you “this isn’t a library!”) with these magazines and try to figure out what it is that draws you to them.

Getting an outside perspective can also help. Ask your best friend, a family member, or a mentor what he or she thinks you are passionate about. Sometimes what is obvious to others is difficult for us to see in ourselves.

It’s good to take advice from others but it is so very important to listen to your own voice during this process. A lot of well-meaning family members, guidance counselors, teachers, and mentors have or will try to give good conservative advice to you. They will generally err on the side of caution and discourage any plans that seem to be outside of the norm. They may encourage you to take a career path that is safe and makes sense but just isn’t something that inspires you.

This step takes some time. That’s okay.

A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, ability, and an economic model.

Your passion is one part of a three legged stool. If you don’t spend the time needed to figure this one out the other two won’t hold you up.

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So You’re a Senior…

You’ve got a lot going on to say the least. In addition to school, friends, sports, volunteering, your job, church, and any other extra-curricular activities you may having going on, you have to find some time to plan your future.

By this point I’m sure your Aunt Martha, Uncle Bob, and most of your family and friends have said something like this:

“So Timmy have you have decide to college?”

Or maybe your Aunt Martha is more direct:

 “Timmy of course you’re going to college, right… right!? So what are you going to study honey?”

 These are usually some of the first questions most juniors and seniors are forced to answer: should I go to college and if so where? What should I major in? But honestly, I think that this question is asked way too early in the planning process. College is a vehicle not a destination. Long before you decide if you want to go to college or not, you need to have an image in your mind of where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. Let’s be honest with ourselves here; ask yourself the concrete things as well as the abstract.

What kind of car do I want to drive? (This isn’t shallow, be honest with yourself.)

What kind of house do I want to live in?

What do I want my typical day to look like?

Do I want to work for a large company, a small business, or go into business for myself?

What do I want my family life to be like?

How do I want to impact the world around me?

Who do I want to work with? What type of clients do I want to serve? (Every working adult serves somebody- choose wisely.)

How much do I want to be earning in 5 years?

When you ask yourself these things it helps you to get a better picture of what type of industry you might enjoy, what kind of salary requirements you have, and what path you need to be on to get the outcomes that you want.

You can’t say to yourself “I love working with kids, so I want to be a kindergarten teacher!” and then expect to live in a fabulous house with a BMW in the driveway (at least not without massive debt). It’s just not going to happen.

Likewise, if you say “I really want to be a stay at home mom or dad in five or six years” is it necessary to invest tens of thousands of dollars in a degree in Modern European Literature?

On the flip side of that coin, if you have a passion to serve cancer victims as an oncologist, you had better be figuring out which schools best suit your needs and start getting applications ready for a few different universities.

It seems pretty simple right?

Enter the gray area.

dgaf

Let’s say you know without a shadow of a doubt that you were wired and created to make music, this is your passion. Should you go to college? These types of career paths and situations are actually more common than not. Here you need to decide what exactly you want to do in the music field. Don’t go to college to figure that out.  I repeat; do not go to college to figure out what you want to be when you grow up! You need to figure that out now. You need to develop an economic model: what are you selling and who are you selling it to. Once you have that figured out, then you can determine if a college degree is necessary to get you to that point. College can often help in these types of situations but it is not always necessary and of course you have to plan for opportunity costs.

Let’s stick with the music illustration.

Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, and Jon Bon Jovi have all done pretty well in the music industry despite not having a degree. That’s right no degree at all. Now let’s look at Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney. They both have degrees in advertising, not music. Advertising was the path and part of the foundation that helped get these two country music sensations get to where they are today. Rapper Ludacris chose a degree in business. All of these individuals took very different paths to become the music superstars they are.

Do the planning now. Look inward. Best-selling author and one of today’s leading vocational thinkers, Dan Miller, states in his book 48Days to the Work You Love, “…that 85 percent of the process of having the confidence of proper direction is to look inward. Fifteen percent is the application…”

Figure out where you want to be, who you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

Then you can answer Aunt Martha about going to college.

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