When we were about 16, my friend Randy and I decided we’d both be millionaires by the time we were 30. How we were going to achieve this, we had no idea. We thought maybe we’d co-write a screenplay and go the Affleck & Damon route. Maybe we’d invent something that would catch on and explode. Or maybe we’d both just become super successful at our chosen fields and be the most in-demand people in the world. The “how” didn’t matter. We were at a lunch table hovering over high school cafeteria chicken nuggets, hopped up on the recent release of Grand Theft Auto III, certain of ourselves in the way only teenagers ever are.
Well, he’s been 30 for six months, and I’ll be 30 in July. As it stands, and I can speak for both of us on this – I’m roughly a million dollars shy of being a millionaire.
But that doesn’t matter. I’ve had a pretty interesting 14 years since Randy and I had those teenage delusions of grandeur, thinking we’d soon rule the world.
College came and went – a time in which I broke out of my relatively reserved personality to emerge a student leader who was involved with everything. Then, the jobs started – a process which has largely put me back into my shell, but the variety of which has rewarded me with a range of pretty random experiences.
Decades ago they used to say the average person changed jobs seven times in their life. Now, that sounds like a pipe dream.
Fresh off of graduation, I worked for a two-man startup trying to simultaneously launch three super-niche social networking websites. I think everyone ran out of money (and drive) before any of the sites could take off, and I was let go. The hurt was quickly quelled when the next opportunity presented itself almost right away – another two-man startup, this one for indoor cycling DVDs that simulated riding outside. I got a look at small business development in action, which I suppose was important to witness, but it also led to six months of employment before funds ran out and I was let go again. That business is still operating, at least, but it had to get there without the continued help of me and another fellow.
I followed that gig with a few months at a laser show production company doing PR and copywriting, while also flying around the country to assist with laser shows. That type of work is fun and exciting for a single guy, but I was getting married that year and it didn’t work with my lifestyle, so I left that one voluntarily. Then came furniture sales (we won’t even talk about that), followed by bitchwork for an online retailer, then 2.5 years of proofreading national ads and tabs for Dick’s Sporting Goods, and finally working with the previously-mentioned online retailer to manage a couple multimillion-dollar international retail accounts. Oh, and I was freelance writing and doing web design that whole time on the side.
So yeah… leaving out the freelancing, I’ve already filled my quota of 7 jobs. Except it wasn’t a lifetime. It was 2008-2014. Now as Vice President of Affordable Vet, I’m on job number 8. I’d like to make this one last.
One thing having all those jobs taught me was what I enjoy, and what I don’t. What I care about, and what doesn’t interest me. And that lets me realize Affordable Vet is something I love working on, and which I really, really care about.
Lots of other non-job stuff happened, too, since the days when Randy and I proclaimed our financial ambitions and The Backstreet Boys were occupying most of the radio airplay. I got married. I bought a house. I’ve had 5 different cars. I had kids. (Expensive kids – both in their creation and their upkeep.)
All of that worked directly against becoming a millionaire. It’s also all pretty great.
Back when we were 16, we thought success was directly proportional to how rich you ended up being. Maybe that was a product of growing up in an upper class suburb where most people’s families didn’t show too much evidence of financial concern. Maybe it was just teenage shortsightedness. Regardless, it’s a thing that goes away around the time you’re in college. And once you move past that, it’s a distant flicker.
Obviously a lot of things in life would be massively easier if we had both become millionaires by 30, but it wouldn’t make us more enriched. Everything going on in my daily life is far more satisfying than a fat bank, and worth far more than being a 30 year-old millionaire.
And hey, we can always shoot for 40.