I want to provide a quick summary at the beginning so that you can decide whether this article is for you:
- Social Timeline Framework: How cultural ideas influence our perspective of life.
- Learn from my mistakes: I dropped out of college 5 years ago.
- Ask yourself these questions to discover if college is the best choice for you.
- These high-paying jobs are possible without going to college (and you can work from anywhere).
- If you make the decision, do these 3 things before starting your new life.
- You vs. the world.
- The importance of routines and self-improvement.
1. THE SOCIAL TIMELINE FRAMEWORK.
Before getting to the point, please consider how the following cultural ideas influence our perspective of life:
– Life is lived to make money. The more, the better.
– Prioritize material purchases over life experiences.
– People will judge you based on the things you possess and you want them to think highly of you.
– Always strive to have more than what you currently have and better than what others have.
– Dedicate most of your energy toward your job or career. Any other pursuits are either risky or lazy. You can’t possibly make money doing what you enjoy, so stop wasting your time. Pursue something more “realistic”.
– The world is a scary and dangerous place. Strive to have as much as security and predictability in your life as possible.
– You must be the best to deserve respect.
– Social Timeline: Go to school, get good grades, get a degree, get a nice, secure job, get married and start a family, purchase your mortgaged dream house, purchase your dream car and the other nice things you want, rise up the ranks at your place of employment, provide a life for your kids that you never had, enjoy two weeks of vacation every year, retire when you’re 65 years old to do the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had time for and raise your kids to do even better than you.
Some of you might look at this list and think: “There is nothing wrong with any of that, and some of it is just the truth.”
I don’t want you to judge these values and ideas but just be aware of them and the ways our culture may cultivate and promote them. The whole point of this guide is to help you discover the best path for you.
You reading this is no accident. There is a desire in your heart to live in a way that is true to who you are. You may be someone with a creative and non-traditional personality, a freethinker, and may have already realized that life is much more than the last bullet point above.
You have the power to live the life you want, embrace an entrepreneurial lifestyle, achieve financial freedom and location independence. Your life does not have to be enslaved to a 9-5 job 5 days a week for 40 years.
2. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES: I DROPPED OUT 5 YEARS AGO.
I have personally been through this. I have been through the feelings, obstacles and learnings of the journey of realising that the “social timeline” is not my path. I prefer the freedom, flexibility and happiness that leaving all that behind has given me.
Let me tell you a little bit more about my story.
From a very young age, both my school and my parents *tried to* guide me to the social timeline path and I was pretty convinced of that path. I joined engineering school right after high school pursuing a degree a telecommunications engineering, it was supposed to give me all the knowledge and resources to thrive professionally, also in life. Having a degree, a sure high-paying job and by those, the recognition of society.
I was very interested in technology and still am today, but shortly after joining, classes became boring, motivation was zero, and something was just wrong. I did not enjoy any of what I was doing, I was feeling forced, and I just didn’t see the point of being there, even though the decision was voluntary.
Without thinking much about it, I skipped most of the classes to start learning by myself. I remember watching YouTube videos tutorials and using websites like Skillshare to learn the basics of web design and marketing and reading books from Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday all day long.
I was money hungry. After a couple of months learning on my own, I started approaching local business to design their websites and their social media strategy, and after a few meetings, I closed a few deals and made a little money.
Instead of studying physics, I was doing online courses and reading books on entrepreneurship, programming and design.
Instead of attending classes, I was having meetings with potential clients, started developing core competences like negotiation skills, and learning the importance of connections. I was not the best at all, but I was getting better, and that was without the help of anyone.
I also became very interested in finance, especially stock trading and I remember watching all Wall Street movies that I could find, reading all the major books about the financial markets and even getting a few lucky trades on Bitcoin. Even though my approach was purely for personal finance, it became my main source of income a few years after (more on this soon).
I applied what I learned about entrepreneurship and by the end of 2013 I launched my first company: a simple online shop that sold fashion watches and accessories, (you can still see the Instagram).
For the next year, this became my full-time job, and after having sold in more than 30 countries and with a six-figure revenue, a competitor got interested in the site and bought us out. This gave me enough money to buy me some time and think about the next thing.
Having been through these real-life experiences and realizing those were making me feel fulfilled and accomplished (unlike university), I made the decision to dropout of engineering school by the end of the second year.
This was a tipping point to confirm what I actually wanted to do in life, the entrepreneurial lifestyle and living life on my own terms was the thing.
Even though the path ended up working great for me, my approach was risky here are some of the lessons I learned:
- I dropped out without a stable source of income and stayed that way for almost a year. My recommendation would be to start small while in college, get a part time job anywhere to sustain yourself and then hustle your craft from there. Do not overestimate your abilities, you are still learning.
- I became so obsessed with my future lifestyle that I totally forgot to live the present. While my friends were out partying or traveling in the summer, I was in my room studying or working with no days off. It is extremely important to enjoy your twenties right. Work-life balance is tremendously underestimated by young entrepreneurs.
- I did not have any routines. I went to sleep at 4am and woke up at 12pm, that is not good. I did not workout or meditate and my diet was horrible. These are things that needed to be fixed. Consistency and routines are key to success.
- A lot of my business decisions were made without a thought process, specially the financial ones, I got to have almost $100,000 in debt, and it would have been a tremendous disaster for me and my family if the business would not have worked well.
- Essentially, I lacked a step-by-step systemized process to guide me and to maintain my discipline. This what I know now that I wish I knew 5 years ago: the importance of a strong foundation in personal finance, attitude and routines, a curriculum on digital marketing, business intelligence, social media strategy, data analytics, programming and more, where and how to learn these skills in an organized way, where to find jobs and opportunities for independence and how to demonstrate your value and skills to the world.
If this list sounds like something you could need, you better keep reading.
3. ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS TO DISCOVER IF COLLEGE IS THE BEST CHOICE FOR YOU.
You may or may not relate to my personal story at this point. However, what I am sure is that you share the feelings of being trapped in an unhappy college life, being stressed, feeling different from the crowd and constantly questioning your path in life.
These are all signs of your soul screaming to be free.
The feelings experienced while considering dropping out are absolutely normal. They are a consequence of an imperfect educational system that’s designed to only be effective and efficient for certain types of people who easily sustain it.
You aren’t crazy, lazy or deficient. You have the right to define what’s important and what holds value to you.
Now let’s get into the topic.
For me there is one key thing that you must know before making the decision and that is your passion.
This is not easy. If you don’t know what your passion is yet, even college can be a good place to discover it, either you continue that path or you end up so tired of it that you drop out (that is what happened to me) and start fighting on your own.
If it is not clear, you really need to think thoroughly about this, ask yourself these questions:
- If you became a billionaire overnight and never had to work again, what would you do with all your spare time?
- What kinds of subjects, topics, or areas have you always had an interest in, or been naturally drawn to?
- What kind of accounts do you follow on social media? What content do you like/share/comment on most frequently?
- Think about the people you most aspire to be. What do they do for a living?
You can also ask these to a close friend or relative:
- What do you think are my greatest strengths?
- What am I doing at those times I seem to be at my best?
- What kind of things do your family, friends, or coworkers frequently ask for your advice on, or help with doing?
Now that you know a little bit about your passion; ask yourself this, is it achievable without going to college? If so, skip college.
But Jay, what if I want to be a lawyer, a doctor or an architect? Well, you certainly need college for those, there is no alternative just yet, and that path is as great as any other too.
Understand this, what I am trying to explain is that college is not for everyone. It is crucial to define yourself and to accept those definitions – to recognize that everyone is on their own personal journey, have different experiences and different schemas.
But, what if you want to be a programmer, a video producer, graphic designer, musician, run online businesses or become a marketing consultant, for example?
Then, you have to know that there is not a single school on earth that teaches you these professions properly to compete in the world that we live in today.
Also, if you want to want to be a freelancer or build your own company, going to college may be the opposite of help. That time and money can be invested much better. Let’s continue.
4. THESE HIGH-PAYING JOBS ARE POSSIBLE WITHOUT GOING TO COLLEGE (AND YOU CAN WORK FROM ANYWHERE)
Okay you are reading this so I will assume from now on that you do not want to be a lawyer.
When writing this article, I consulted with my best friends and business partners (who happen to be digital nomads and freelancers) and we came up with 7 high-paying jobs with better paths and prospects outside college.
*Average pay data is from Glassdoor – Updated May 2018.
- Mobile App Developer: iOS, android. Average pay of $107,000 per year.
- Web Developer: design, code. Average pay of $88,000 per year.
- Stock Trader & Portfolio Manager. Average pay of $101,000 per year.
- Business Intelligence and Data Analytics: business major of the future. Average pay of $80,000 per year.
- Digital Marketing: social media, online advertising, growth hacking. Average pay of $96,000 per year.
- Video Producing: filmmaking and professional editing. Average pay of $70,000 per year.
- eCommerce Expert: run your online store, amazon FBA. Average pay of $90,000 per year.
What do you think? Don’t just focus on the numbers, you can make even more if you end up working for yourself. It’s not even the most important part: you can use each and every one of those careers to go freelance just like my friends and become a digital nomad, work from anywhere, and live the life you have always wanted.
We are preparing step-by-step comprehensive guides for ALL these jobs, a systemized process to go from beginner to pro, with experts in all those fields invited to share their secret processes and techniques. If you want to have a head start, click the photo below and we will send to you the content for free.
5. IF YOU MAKE THE DECISION, DO THESE 3 THINGS BEFORE STARTING YOUR NEW LIFE.
PAY YOUR STUDENT LOANS
I’ve learned a lot from my experience at college, and I didn’t even graduate.
College helped me find out who I am, and what I really want from life. I realize I have to pay for this experience and I consider fair to do so. It’s only right.
I had an accumulated debt of about $10,000 both from a public university and a private graduate institution in Spain, and taking into account what I got in return, the price is very cheap. The average debt after college in the US is nearly $40,000! (source).
Work on a plan to eliminate all debt from your life, it may take some time, but don’t lose focus on this.
LEARN ABOUT PERSONAL FINANCE
We have a few rules to live by that may seem obvious but should be follow to the point:
- NEVER spend more than you earn.
- Do not go into consumer debt, ever.
- Build a separate account with at least 6 months (I recommend 1 year) worth of expenses in case something goes wrong. This will release lots of stress and will give you mental room to focus.
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
Minimalism changed my life as much as dropping out did. It is not only about getting rid of unnecessary stuff, it’s about living life more purposely. I can’t recommend you enough to start reading theminimalists.com, watch their documentary and follow Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Millburn and Matt D’Avella everywhere.
6. YOU VS. THE WORLD.
The fear of disappointing your parents. Okay. Not living up to your parents’ expectations is a huge thing and drives the lives of many people. Just keep in mind, they will eventually have to accept your decision and get over it.
Your decision will not make any sense to people with the “social timeline” mentality, they are operating from a schema of what they’re supposed to do and what society expects of them.
In my case, letting down the very person I love most in the world felt vile and wrong. It was extremely difficult, but when I finally managed to tell them my decision, they kept on loving me (of course) and trusted my criteria.
Be prepared, everyone is going to have something to say. Backing your decision and staying resolute against the pressure from others, specially your parents, will show that you believe that what you’re doing is the best for you and it will make them understand and support you.
Be kind. Their questions arise from genuine concern. Keep in mind that people may wish you good luck and secretly envy your courage.
Explain yourself and the effects that school had on you, your true aspirations, and your future plans.
This is your life to live. You may get more support than you imagine.
To drop out is simply to reclaim personal agency in determining the path of your life and what it will look like, and to consciously choose the values to which you’ll subscribe.
It is a rejection of the values, paths, roles and definitions supported by the social, political, economic, religious, and cultural institutions that do not align with your true self.
To drop out means to place yourself at the center of your experience of the world – to look at yourself primarily through your own eyes and not the eyes of society.
It means to define yourself and to accept those definitions – to recognize that everyone is on their own personal journey, have different experiences and different schemas.
Their beliefs, behavior and opinions reflect only them and are not a valid judgement of your path – which only you can ever fully know because only you can know the full context of your life.
“Despite whatever path you are now, start thinking of yourself as the person you want to be, the person you truly are.”
7. THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINES AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT
Routines are a key component of the process. If you want to become an entrepreneur, run your own company or become a freelancer, you need to establish some unbreakable rules to put order in your life and allow you to keep moving forward with ease.
Let’s start with the basics: Your morning routine.
First, wake up early. If you are not waking up before 8 am, you are doing it wrong. Start setting your alarm 15 min earlier each day until you reach that point. Meditate, use headspace, then stretch, drink cold water and have a nourish breakfast.
Get dressed. Don’t make the mistake I made when I dropped out of working 14 hours days with my pijamas in my bed. Get a nice desk with a comfortable chair and make it professional.
If you want to work from home, find a place that allows you to stay private so you don’t get interruptions every 2 minutes. Ideally, most people find that going to a coworking or if you can afford it, a private office is the best option. From my experience, a physical barrier that separates work and your personal life is key.
Limit the hours. I find a great balance working 6 hours in the morning with a few breaks, then workout and lunch, and spending the rest of the day to doing other things that do not involve work.
Now let’s talk about the how and why you should improve yourself.
Look around for things that bother you, in the present or in the future, and see if you can fix it. There are some things that are announcing to you to be fixed, you know what they are, so start there. If you fix 100 things like that, big or small, your life will be a lot different.
Fix the things you do every day. These are the most important things you do and they constitute more than half of your life. Think about it. Ask yourself (you have to ask!) how can you improve this, because the morning routine is extremely important. Then, keep asking yourself about every aspect of your life “how can I make X better?”
We see what we aim at. So be careful what you aim at, because this changes how the world manifests to you. If the world manifests to you in a very negative way, one thing to ask is this: am I aiming at the right things?
I added 2 extra mini-chapters to the ebook version of this article, click the photo below to download it:
EXTRA: WHAT I DO RIGHT NOW
Well, you are looking at it! Valdour is a digital publication covering college alternatives, digital nomads, financial freedom and lifestyle.
We produce content in the form of articles and high impact videos that reach millions every month.
And there is more to come, stay tuned.
That is the beginning of my story, tell me about yours.
I hope this post had helped you in any way, whether to confirm the path where you currently are, to change some things along the way or to change it all. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I reply to all of the emails.