Monday, January 13, 2014

How to Avoid Getting Beat Up At 1:00 in the Morning

When I was young I was what you would call a wandering generality.  I had no focus, no dream and most importantly, no passion for anything.  

Thank God I was single at the time.  

I wound up working almost 20 hours a day, no kidding.  I worked at a shoe store during the day and a pizza parlor at night. I wasn't too swift in the finances department either, because I spent almost everything I made, never saving a cent for a rainy day or for things that would make my life easier, like a car. 

Survival was my only direction and I had nothing else to look forward to.

Looking back at my life from that time period, I am amazed that I am still alive.  Because I blew all of my money on frivolous things, I never bought a car and I had to walk some dangerous areas of a big city to get to and from work.  Almost every night, I had to walk home from the pizza parlor because I had to help shut it down at 1:00 ahem. 

In a big city, there are a lot of very weird people cruising the streets, looking for easy prey.  I had used syringes, from people shooting up, thrown at me from passing cars as well as booze bottles. One night that I walked past a convenience store, someone threatened to beat me up.  I knew to keep my cool and keep walking like I wasn't scared, even though, I was almost in a panic.

Of course, this is what happens to wandering generalities; they get thrown this way and that, never knowing where they will end up at, and they rarely end up on Success Avenue.
The reason I lived such a miserable life was pretty simple, I had not found a vocation that would take me out of the minimum wage trap. 

Look, if you have no viable skill for the job market, you won’t get very far, and that is just the reality of it. You need to have a skill or a set of skills that are marketable.  Now that I have been through all of this, I find myself talking to younger people about what they need to do to survive.

I almost always tell them to get a good education... 

However, that can be a bit tricky.  One of the reasons for this is because colleges and universities are now money making machines, whose sole purpose is to suck in money no matter what the standards or the cost.  Yep, there is a whole generation of folks that attended college for their four year degree, only to find out how worthless it all is. 

I’m not saying to skip college if you really want to go, but getting a degree in basket weaving will probably be a tough skill to market to potential employers, versus, say a civil or environmental engineering degree from a good university.

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I usually tell young people that a good, specialized skill is paramount.  You have got to kind of drill down in the skill area to find the specialized skill that suits you.  For example, let’s say you love electronics.  Well, there are a lot of electronics jobs that just don’t pay much at all, but what happens when you drill down and actually look at specialized areas.  You could look at surveillance electronics, which is a huge industry right now.  (Just look at the news.)  Or, you could also look at repairing hospital equipment, which is a very demanding, yet well-paying gig.

Oh, and let us not forget trades that only take a few years to learn and don’t cost nearly as much as the coveted 4 year degree.  HVAC repair, watch repair, musical instrument repair, piano tuning, etc. Culinary arts are huge right now because people eat out a lot now. 

I could go on and on listing all of the trades and degrees that are usually in demand and pay well, but there is still one problem.

I wouldn't run just after the money, because no matter what vocation you decide to jump on, you will still have to LIKE what you are doing, or life will be miserable.

 I went to college late in life and got a specialized degree myself; I was almost 40 as a matter of fact.  Every semester, I saw young people showing up to shoot for a degree that they thought would make them a lot of money.  Usually, they were going for a legal degree or a degree in medicine when they had never, ever even looked at a medical book or diagram.  And, at the end of every semester you’d see those same students loading up their cars to leave, never to return.

If you are going to pursue a thing, it really helps to have a key ingredient that is very important to your chosen path:


If you are lacking this, you will find life more dreary and empty than ever. Think about it for a minute.  Let’s take a look at very successful people and imagine they hated what they did.

Bill Gates hating programming, only using a computer to play Pac-Man on.

Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking it’s a waste of time to do a few push-ups.

Isaac Asimov with a TV bigger than his book collection.

Tiger Woods collecting comic books, rather than practicing putting.

You get the idea; you need to find out what your passion is. 

They Actually Did Poorly in  School

Funny thing about the folks mentioned above, almost all of them did poorly in school.  Why?  Even though I’m not sure about this, I would probably say it is because being forced to learn a skill set that you have absolutely no interest in is a drag, plain and simple.

So, if you don’t know what you passion is, don’t feel too bad, because sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to find out what it is that you really love to do. And that’s where a good skill comes in handy. If you can get yourself a skill that is good enough to help you survive, you can always find the time to explore and pursue your passion, if you know how to manage your time properly.

That way, you won’t be making pizzas and walking mean streets at 1:00 in the morning.

Mark "Elmo" Ellis
"When it comes to high response copy, I've got your back!"

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