Dear Millennials: Here’s the Uncomfortable Truth Behind Creating the Life of Your Dreams

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I talk to so many Millennials who all have a similar dream: to have the freedom to travel the world and work for themselves. And yet, very few Millennials are actually traveling the world and working for themselves. Why is this?

It’s because plenty of Millennials are willing to dream big, but very few are willing to put in the work to make these dreams a reality. 

The average day in the life of Millennials I personally know looks something like:

Morning: Sleep in

Afternoon: Go to work or class

Evening: Come home and watch Netflix or go out bar-hopping

How on earth does this routine, week after week, month after month, somehow magically result in the financial means to support a life of travel and location-independent work?

I hate to be the one to say this, but it needs to be said. There’s just no feasible way you’ll end up living the life of your dreams, with maximum freedom, when you’re going out every weekend with your crew and coming home from work each day watching Netflix. That formula doesn’t lead to success. It doesn’t lead to an exotic life of travel.

Any Millennial you read about who travels full time and works for themselves has, at some point, gone through a stretch of discomfort to gain that freedom.

They saved up a ton of money, spent free time learning how to code, worked two jobs to pay off debt aggressively, started their own business, made spreadsheets to track their finances. They read non-fiction books, took online classes, spent hours learning new skills and getting people to pay them for these skills.

When you first start out, you have nothing. No leverage, no money, no experience. But you do have one advantage. You have more energy and less obligations now than you’ll ever have in your life. So that means the time to grind is now. Whether or not you have a college degree, a steady paying job, or any credentials at all, you need to start bringing in money somehow. Try selling items on Ebay. Or dog sit through Rover. Or tutor on the side. Or work two jobs. Or start a side business.

If you have student loans, they need to be eliminated as fast as possible. If you can’t afford your own place, live with a roommate. Or several. Or with your parents. Cut your expenses drastically. Forego shopping. Live without a new car.

The uncomfortable truth no one wants to tell Millennials is: if you don’t get a grip on your finances and figure out how money works, you’ll never have a shot at living your dream life.

It’s great that you want to travel and live life to the fullest, but failing to understand how money works will completely cripple you. It will prevent you from doing whatever you want to do most.

There are plenty of Millennials who talk. But not many who work. There are thousands of Millennials who have “CEO” or “Founder” in their Twitter description who haven’t sold a dime of anything. Then there are ones who are quietly working, building up a client base, making good money, figuring out how business works.

The ones who get to travel and work for themselves aren’t the ones talking, they’re the ones working. They’re building up multiple income streams. They’re getting college degrees that pay handsomely while starting lucrative side hustles. They’re saving aggressively. 

I wish I could sit here and tell you that if you wish hard enough, think enough positive thoughts, and dream big enough, that your fantasized life of traveling and working from your laptop internationally will begin to materialize. But that’s not how it works. 

If you’re serious, buckle down and figure out how to save more money and make more money. Read hundreds of personal finance articles, rent financial books at the library, watch YouTube videos to figure out how a 401(k) works, skip out on some weekend bar-hopping with the crew to make a spreadsheet to track your income and expenses.

Grind.

Don’t worry, this “grind” stage won’t last forever. It’s not a never-ending prison sentence of working and sacrificing. But when you’re young, just getting started out, you have nothing. You have to work to build the base of your money machine, which will later reward you by providing the financial means to travel and be your own boss.


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8 Replies to “Dear Millennials: Here’s the Uncomfortable Truth Behind Creating the Life of Your Dreams”

  1. Excellent post, Zach! The “grind” stage is definitely not a never-ending prison sentence. With your blog, you’ve created a great model for taking on the grind with enthusiastic creativity and openness. This approach leads to exponential personal growth and the financial success that allows you to pursue your dreams.

  2. I was just talking about this with Mr. Picky Pincher. To appreciate the dream life you have to go through hell first. Otherwise it’s easy to still be unhappy and take everything for granted.

  3. Zach, it had to be said.

    I, myself, am guilty of a little bar-hopping and binge-watching (at times), but my financial house is always tended to, beforehand.

    There are many Millennials, out there, who get it. Kudos to them. I’d be curious to know what shaped their mindset to be financially disciplined. Upbringing? Hardship?

    And to the Millennials, who are subject of this post, climbing out of debt is very admirable, but it is only the first step. Now to the hard part, create and build wealth.

    1. Church, I think we all tend to spend more than we should and waste time more than we’d like to admit, but we’re human. It happens. The important thing is to have a solid financial base, with daily habits that help propel you towards financial independence slowly but surely over time.

      I think hardship can be a great motivator for some Millennials to get going, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have experienced an unusual amount of hardship so far in my life, but I recognize the freedom that saving and investing a ton of money can bring, so that in itself is motivation enough for me.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

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