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If you are like me, then you probably have had dreams and ambitions to be successful. At Least I hope you do. Sometimes it’s hard to find a starting point or even know where to begin to be successful.
Then you have to ask yourself,
“What exactly is success?” “How can I measure my own success?”
I remember when I graduated college, I was a little envious of some of my friends who got amazing jobs straight out of college. They were making so much more money than I was and even got to travel the world for free on the company’s dime.
In this post I want to tell you my story of success and how I learned to avoid being trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking, and how I didn’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out my inner voice.
Remember The First Time You Thought Of Your Specific Goal
Ever since I was a kid I always had this infatuation and love for New York City. I had never been before, but growing up my mom had me watching musicals like “West Side Story” and “Annie.” The buildings were so much bigger than buildings I had seen growing up in Louisville, KY.
As I got older, watching old gangster movies like The Godfather was just so… gangster. Everything about NYC from television and what I had heard was the place I wanted to be without having even been there before.
I knew at an early age I wanted to move to NYC one day and start my own business or work for a company in the Big Apple.
For anyone who has a long term or short term goal, it is important to go back in time and remember when this first thought or idea came to mind for two reasons:
- This will help with measuring your own success. – Did you personally achieve what you have always wanted?
- You have the power to make your dreams come true. – If you always have wanted something, did you empower yourself to fulfill this want, or did you just let it slip into a thought?
Come Up With A Plan
Once I realized that I wanted to live in New York I knew that I was the only person that could make this dream become a reality. I was still a little kid just entering the ninth grade, but I knew I wanted to move to NYC.
My parents raised me to be a hard worker and work for the things that you want in life. They preached that nothing is handed to you, it requires hard work, dedication, and a plan. After all, the reason some of you own the laptop or cell phone to read this article is a result of your own hard work, right?
At this point I realized I needed to come up with a plan to save money for my “Move to NYC fund.”
The bottom line was, I had to save money. Saving money for any ninth grader is difficult when you can’t legally have a part time job due to age restrictions.
So what was my plan? I planned to save all of my $1 bills.
Let me explain….
If I spent $20, or any amount of money and received a single dollar bill as change, that $1 went in my back left pocket until I got home to add it to my secret stash.
No spending any $1 bills for me. If I ordered off the $1 menu, I was paying with a $20 bill even though I had singles in my back left pocket.
I had a grass cutting business in high school and made a decent amount of money with 7 lawns a week at $25 per cut in the summer. Almost $200 a week for a highschool student living at home was more than enough money when mom and dad were still paying for most everything.
Don’t Deviate From The Plan And Have A Backup Plan
Anyone can really make a plan and act like they are following it. Nowadays some of my friends tell me they quit smoking cigarettes 2 months ago. When we’re out drinking, they sneak a smoke in and justify it by telling me “I don’t smoke anymore, this is just one cigarette in the past 3 weeks, I’m not a smoker.”
Creating a plan means sticking to it. No cheating. After all, this is your dream, if you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.
All through high school and college, I saved my one dollar bills. As I got older and started getting internships and more adult jobs, I was adjusting my lifestyle spending more money, but saving more $1 bills.
I had a lot of money saved up and at this point I was a little nervous about having so much money in my dorm room. It was time to buy a fireproof safe.
You would think that any normal person would be sure to put all the money in the fireproof safe in a college dorm room to hide their savings over the years. Well, I’m not normal. I bought the safe as a decoy.
In college word of mouth gets around, naturally. I wasn’t sharing with people that I was saving my bills. It was a secret. But my roommate and people who came into our dorm room saw the safe under our bunk beds and people always asked what I had in there…
I just told them “important stuff” and never spoke about it. In reality, I didn’t have anything in there other than a few bottles of liquor I wasn’t supposed to have.
I hollowed out an old text book like you see in one of those spy movies and placed all the money inside it on my roommates bookshelf. I knew if someone wanted to steal from me, the first thing they were going for was not the Rene Descartes philosophy text book, they were going to take the safe.
I continued saving the money. More money stacked up. By my sophomore year of college I had over $4,000 saved up. Still, no one knew what the money was for, not even my family.
Then, one night my roommate had a party and the safe was gone….
Someone thought they were slick and stole my safe. But my money was still sitting nice and quiet in my old philosophy textbook on the shelf, right in plain sight.
I’m not sure what your backup plan is, or even your goal/s. But it’s important to have a backup plan too. Yea, mine was a little creative but whatever your backup plan is, it should be like trip insurance. You’re main goal is still there, but just in case something happens, you still have everything covered.
Don’t Get Discouraged
I graduated college and had a total $7,832 dollars saved up. I bet you can guess my debit card pin…
Obviously, I exchanged all of the bills for higher denominations, but even that much money doesn’t fit in an old hollowed out philosophy text book.
I had all of this money saved up in cash, and other money in my savings account, but I was in the perfect spot to achieve my lifelong goal! I graduated and now it was time to find a job in NYC, right?
I graduated in 2010 and the economy was still bad in the US. Jobs in NYC were paying a salary of $30,000 a year, with little benefits. I was probably the most discouraged human on earth when I had to make the decision to move back to Louisville, KY after I spent years of saving.
I built excel spreadsheets with numbers on how I could make $30,000 a year and living in NYC work. I came up with grocery lists that would help me budget money all to just live in NYC! It was time for a reality check…
It wasn’t the right time to make the move just yet. I needed work experience in order to build my resume to have a higher salary if I were to move to New York.
So, I took a shitty job in Kentucky. All my friends parents worked for big companies and helped them get jobs in LA, Chicago, and even NYC. Here I was, with more money saved up then them, and I had to move back to Kentucky to sell hotel coupons to Days Inn Motels and Microtell’s along the highway.
But, I continued saving my $1 bills!
I went on to work for Livingsocial after the hotel advertising job. Livingsocial was fun, until they wanted me to do more and pay me less.
So I quit…
Studied for the GMAT and didn’t get into Graduate school. I was stuck.
If I have learned anything in life, it’s good to fail. If I didn’t fail back then, I wouldn’t be where I am at now. Everything I’ve done in life, I’ve figured out on my own.
Taking calculated risks when we are young is important for your future.
I didn’t get into Grad school, so the next day, I purchased a one way ticket to NYC! I spent over a month searching for jobs. I went on interviews, I got job offers… and turned them down.
I was staying in Airbnb’s around the city to save money. I didn’t know how long it was going to be until I landed a job, and I didn’t want to be locked into a lease right away until I had something stable.
I was getting so frustrated that I was getting job offers, but for $30,000 – $40,000 with my experience just wasn’t cutting it for me. I had to turn them down even though I wanted to start working right away, and ship all of my belongings from Kentucky.
I had been in New York living the life for a little over a month. I wasn’t spending too much money, but the New York City fund was slowly depleting. Weekends I did touristy things and tried to network with people. During the week I was attending at least 4-6 interviews.
But damn, New York was so expensive!
I was just about to call it quits and schedule a flight back to Kentucky. I figured that this was not the best time for me to make the move and maybe I should try again in about a year or so. Until, I got a phone call from a recruiter.
Have Self Confidence
I’ll never forget this women’s name, Debbie. She called me just when I was closing my laptop to call my parents and let them know I was going to head home since I did not find the job I wanted.
I told Debbie a brief overview of my story and she said there was a pharmaceutical company looking for a sales rep. She told me the salary and benefits and it got my attention. If I landed the job, I was even given a brand new company car too.
She told me that my resume was a little shy of the requirements because I was only in sales for about 2 years. I argued with her and begged for her to give me a shot.
Long story short, I had 2 face to face interviews with her. I made it past those two and now it was time to meet Bryce, my future boss if I landed the job.
I remember being so nervous in the interview room. They had me meet at Newark International Marriott Hotel in a conference room. There were about 4 other people who were interviewing for the position and we all made small talk in the hallway. I was so nervous because all of them had years of sales experience.
My name was called. I sat in the chair shaking with cotton mouth. I needed some water and the questions kept getting harder.
I made it through the interview and the last question he asked me changed my life. Bryce asked me “Why should we hire you over the other people standing in the hallway?”
I took a deep breath and said “Can you give me a few seconds to gather my thoughts?”
I responded with:
“I purchased a one way ticket to New York a little over a month ago. I have been on many interviews and turned jobs down. My dream is to live in New York ever since I was a kid. I have over $7,000 saved up. This is my plan A, I don’t have a plan B. Debbie mentioned you would be making a decision around 4pm today who you will be hiring for the job.”
I began to stand up and push my chair under the table…
“I want this job more than anyone in that hallway right now, and I expect a phone call at 4pm.” I extended my hand out as Bryce reached for it. I turned around and walked out of the room to see Debbie standing right there.
I was so scared for what I had just said and did not even say thank you Debbie. I just got in my car and went back to the Airbnb I was staying at.
I got the job.
This is my story to how I achieved one of my goals. I hope you have many goals you are looking to achieve. Everyone’s story is unique but they all follow somewhat of a pattern.
The key to never giving up is keeping the main goal, the main goal. Stay disciplined and if you can’t want something so bad that it hurts, then you need to readjust your goals!
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do what you want to do. As I was in New York for a little over a month, everyone was asking me when I was going to come home?
I told them I wasn’t coming home until I had to pack all of my stuff up because I found a job. Don’t ever give up on your goals. Today, I work for a medical device company in Brooklyn and Staten Island. I also own a health website with a close friend of mine.
I stopped saving my $1 bills. I now use an app called Acorns to round my credit card purchases to the nearest dollar. This is essentially what I had been doing years ago. I should have started Acorns!
But, I have saved a ton of money using this app and I also gain miles to travel on top of that. I rarely use cash anymore.