One of the greatest lessons I have learned over the past couple of years is the importance of having options in life. I have had my fair share of good fortune, but I have also realized how I have had influenced this as well. It is important to realize early on how you can generate the most possible options in your life.
Feeling like you are stuck and have no options is tough. Here are some great generators that will help provide the most options in life.
Option Generator 1: Getting Good Grades
One day in the not so distant future (sad face) Baby Widget will come to me and ask why it is important for her to get good grades, or why she needs to learn something she will never need (sound familiar?). I will tell her even if she is sure she knows what she wants to do, it is always nice to have the option to change your mind.
One of the first times an individual has the power to generate options in their lives is in their schoolwork. Doing well in school can have implications lasting for years.
In high school, getting good grades gives you options for which college you can go to. Granted, just having great grades will not guarantee you can go anywhere you want but it is a minimum bar for most.
In college, good grades will help to get the job you want with the company you want. Again, no guarantees here but I remember how competitive the career fairs in college were. The most desired companies would get so many resumes that they would immediately place them in two different piles. What was the deciding factor? That’s right GPA.
It did not matter how awesome a person you were, or what type of extra curricular activities you had, your chances came down to an average of all your grades. This was frustrating for me but it is understandable since they cannot interview everyone.
I will admit I was not always the best at this option generator. I did well in high school but college was definitely a challenge for me, and as a result was not beating companies away with a stick once I graduated.
However, once I landed a job I found an option generator that I excel at.
Option Generator 2: Work well with Others
Learning to work well with others of differing opinions and styles is very important to how successful you will be and what options you can generate in your career. Starting your first job after graduation can be stressful. Most of your effort is spent trying to fit in and do good work. At least this is what I was doing when I started.
You will also find yourself working with the most age diverse group of people in you life. Since the people you went to school with were similar in age, they share many of the same life milestones that you have. The typical corporate world is different, unless you work at Facebook, then it is college continued. 🙂
I have always tried to connect with my colleagues in a positive manner. Frustrations can come out when working in high stress situations, so it is important to remain level-headed and be able to calm the waters.
I have always been able to work well with others and this has helped to create multiple options throughout my career. I mainly attribute this to the way my parents raised me to treat everyone the same and with a high level of respect. When wanting to make a change at work I have reached out to people I have worked with previously and they have been happy to help.
If people like you and enjoy working with you, they will be very willing to help you furthering your career. I have found the opposite true as well. Being difficult to work with definitely limits mobility within the same company. Many times the only option for these people is to leave or get assigned to a different role.
Maybe you have a great job that you love, but there is no guarantee that will last forever. Things can change if you get a bad boss, get laid off, or just get burned out. Having created strong relationships with your colleagues will help you to have options in these situations.
Option Generator 3: Live Below your Means
Once you have settled into your career you are still not done creating options. When I started working, I thought I would be fine working until I was 65. Maybe even aim for retiring early at 62!
Then I started reading FIRE blogs. Ideas of gaining financial independence and retiring early were planted in my brain and I transformed me. Having the option to retire earlier became very important to me.
Many personal finance blogs discuss how reaching financial independence creates the option to do other jobs or activities that interest you more. By far the best way to create the option of retiring early is by living below your means.
Saving and investing as much as you can as early as you can generates the option to leave your career when you want to. Maybe you will still want to continue working, but knowing you do not need to or worry about a job loss sounds awesome.
I was not great at this early in my career but have turned it around in the last few years.
My main focus now is living below our means so Mrs. WIdget and I have the most possible career options in the future. I will also help Baby Widget as she grows to generate options in her life so she will be able to follow her desired path.
I am very happy with where I am in life, but some things would have been much easier had I concentrated on ways to generate options earlier.
Readers, what have you done to create options in your life? Did you realize that you were increasing your options at the time?