Why “get a job” is the wrong advice for twentysomethings

For Goodness’ Sake, Read the 4-Hour Workweek

Something is very wrong. I look around at my peers– smart, educated, twentysomethings, who are working at jobs they hate.

Maybe they are an overworked barista, getting paid ten dollars an hour to serve snotty clientele, or maybe they work in an office getting paid much more to have much less free time.

Most of my friends who fall into this category are not apathetic or lazy. They care deeply about the world. They are some of the most creative and socially-aware people I know. Some are artists, using their measly paychecks to rent studio space or their few hours of freedom to create music or go to theater auditions. Many of them volunteer and are involved with social and community activism.

But for the most part, they are poor and they are struggling.

The problem is that no one has taught our generation how to turn a Liberal Arts education into a career or how to make a living as a artist.

We are taught that when you graduate, you find a job. That’s it. A job is supposedly how you support yourself. It’s how you fund whatever personal, social or artistic pursuits you may have.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with traditional employment. There are those who are very happy using this model and I don’t mean to criticize how they’re living their lives. If you’re happy, keep doing what you’re doing. But with the state of the economy right now, all I’m saying is that “finding a job” may not be the most efficient method for making a living.

I can’t stand articles that call my generation lazy. We are not lazy, we just haven’t been shown another way. Where are the entrepreneurship classes in high schools? Where are the initiatives encouraging young people to be self-starters and look for ways to solve problems and bring value to the world?

The New Way to Work

Over the last three years, I’ve seen another way. I’ve met people running businesses from their laptops, traveling the continent by bike, self-publishing serial fiction to hoards of hungry readers every week, funding businesses through crowd funding and making a killing using the share economy.

There’s a common denominator.

Most of the people I’ve met who are rocking this new way of working have read The 4-Hour Workweek. In fact, many credit that book for changing their entire perspective on life and work. I know I do.

I call it a “before and after book” because there’s your life before you read 4HWW and then there’s your life after you read it. Everything is different.

You need to read 4HWW, not for the specifics about outsourcing or testing a business with Adwords, but for the mindset shift. It won’t give you all the answers, but it will show you that there is another way and mark the beginning of your journey.

Paying the Rent

If you are going to take that minimum wage or well-paying but mediocre job that looks good on paper but doesn’t light up your heart, do it only as a stepping stone.

Do it to pay your rent for now and on your off time, hustle. Build something more lucrative, sustainable, and exciting. Set yourself up financially so that you aren’t reliant on someone else for a paycheck.

You don’t have to be poor to make art or have a positive impact in the world. You just need to step outside of the conventional system that tells you to “get a job.” That system is broken. Instead, start forging your own path. There is another way.

This article was originally published on Medium


Written by Emilie Wapnick

I Grew a Beard and (Mostly) Everyone Hates It.

How to (Respectfully) Say No