An open letter to frustrated 20-somethings…

So I’ll be 25 this Saturday.

I’ve gone through a huge evolution in thought regarding careers, passions, the concept of “work” and life direction in the past 10 years.

My first job at the YMCA (at 15), I figured out within 2 weeks that I was great at “pitching” myself during the interview — and I’m a likeable guy…but the work was boring and tedious…and it showed. It’s hard to keep high enthusiasm during summer camp, trust me.

I thought it was the job that sucked.

So I moved through a series of other jobs hoping that I’d find one I liked: museums, retail, grocery stores, restaurants…a ton of things. Each one had some element I liked — but within weeks I always felt like I was literally an indentured servant working for pennies with no end in sight. The worst part about this was when I’d see people who had been in these jobs for 30 years and were in a state of zombie-like compliant quasi-misery.

Like moaning dogs laying on nails who are too lazy to move.

I remember during my training at Publix (grocery store), one of the assistant managers pointed to his boss endearingly and said “Greg hasn’t missed a day or called in sick in 27 years.” As if this was some good thing, a point to be proud of.

I just remember thinking to myself “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”

I quit that job faster than Kim K quits a marriage.

Eventually I came to the realization that I could job hop my whole life, I could go to college and get a degree and hop around with that on higher paying jobs — but in the end, the problem wasn’t with the employers…it was with me.

I had the problem. It wasn’t about getting a better PAYING job. It was about having a job period.

I was having a major case of cognitive dissonance between what I wanted my life to be and the options I saw available.  Part of this was coming because at a very deep level, I was afraid to admit what I really wanted. I was afraid I’d be called lazy, impractical, idiotic, etc. I didn’t want to be ridiculed.

I’m not afraid anymore.

You know what I want? I don’t want to work. Like…not ever.

I don’t want to be responsible for showing up anywhere, simply because if I don’t show up, I won’t be able to feed myself/my family (in the future).

I don’t want to be told I can’t do something, that I “don’t have any ‘sick days’ left”, that I won’t be getting a raise or I’m being laid off.  I don’t want to worry that I’m late or not meeting someone else’s standards, and as a result, might not be able to keep supporting myself. I don’t want to be forced to stay in a specific location and never get away because I have to clock in somewhere.

You know what I hate?

When people ask me “what do you do?”

What do I do? I don’t DO anything. I AM somebody. I can do so much. I’m not narrowly defined by skills I use to make money.

What you do to make money is completely separate from what you do with your time. Ironically, many people spend all that time getting more money.

Am I the only one who sees the sick paradox here?

If it were up to me, you know what I’d do?

I’d spend my life traveling, learning languages, practicing martial arts, reading, programming, eating good food and (eventually) raising smart, open-eyed children. All the other shit can suck it.

I mean, can we just be honest here. It’s just you, me and this letter. If it was up to you, you wouldn’t go to work tomorrow, would you? Even if you “like” your job, wouldn’t you much rather be doing exactly what you want to do at the pace you want to do it?

And not because you’re lazy and don’t like putting effort into your pursuits — it’s because you’d rather put your full energy into the things that really ignite you. Whatever those things are.

Now, 95% of people will say “But Daniel, you have to do SOMETHING for ‘work’. You can’t just be a bum. You need to get a job or something and then do stuff on your free time.”

This is incorrect thinking based on the overwhelming cultural paradigm that says work should be placed squarely at the center of your life, with any fun/recreation coming as an afterthought.

It’s the deferred life plan, where you save, save, save for 50 years, contribute to your 401k and when you’re 60 (that’s early retirement actually…), you hope to be able to finally stop working and live the last 20ish years of your life in frugal quietude, clinging to a slipping middle class existence as inflation goes up and your savings decreases.

At least now you have time to finally do everything you wanted to do…right?

Sounds bittersweet to me.

I propose another way.

We’ve seen what happens when work is your central focus. Working for work’s sake, spending all your time making more money or obsessing about money instead of doing the things you really want to do because you’re ashamed to actually admit what those things are for fear of being labeled different. God forbid you don’t have “work ethic”.

What if you were to make your life and the pursuits that interested you – traveling, learning, physical activities, art, whatever- the center(s) of your life and fit work in like a planet in orbit, designed to support your life and pursuits without completely taking over?

What if your presence wasn’t actually required to generate the resources that support you, and you were left to roam the earth freely?

What would you REALLY do with your life?

Have you ever considered that in a completely digitized society this is a very real possibility?

This isn’t a popular way of thinking, and if you don’t have any friends or role models living like this, it’s hard to imagine that this is even possible.

But as I’ve met more and more incredible people through my blog — people who are living that “fictional” life — I realize that it’s not only very possible, but that there’s a formula to creating these circumstances. It’s not luck, and it’s not voodoo or “positive affirmation”.

In the past 12 months I’ve gotten increasingly closer to this reality.

Are you one of the few who believes a better way is possible, not just for people in books or in the news, but for YOU?

Leave me a comment below and let me know.

******

Get new insights to help you build a business you care about and live a happier life. Just join the tribe. (It’s free).

 

Daniel DiPiazza
@Rich20Something

Daniel is the founder and CEO of Rich20Something. A millennial business mastermind, he has successfully started three consecutive freelance businesses and scaled them to over $100K in revenue with zero startup capital. His work is regularly featured in Time Magazine, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fox News, and Yahoo! Business. His debut book, Rich20Something, publishes on May 2, 2017.

  • seanmalarkey

    Love it Daniel! This topic is exactly my life (the good part). Yes there is hard work and struggle to achieve the lifestyle you mention but I am living proof it’s possible!
    And the exact reason I am publishing a book documenting those who have achieved it and the mindset & paths neccesary to get there.
    Keep up the good work brother!

    • Rich20Something

      @seanmalarkey Thanks for reading, Sean! As soon as I found out where you live part time…I said “that’s it…I’m figuring this thing out.” You, and others who I’ve met on this path, continue to show me that it’s possible — so when I get discouraged, I remember that this is not (for the most part) luck, it’s persistence and methodical testing/reiteration.
       
      Looking forward to the book. When is it coming out?

  • AudrisCampbell

    Happy Birthday! As always, great post. I’m getting closer to that reality myself. (:

  • RobertJCollier

    badass open letter, Daniel. This post really struck a chord with me. Couldn’t identify more with you and the feeling when I look around my office and just think how ass-backwards everyone is that works there. Anyways, keep up the great work. Wishing you well from one fellow entrepreneur to another.

    • Rich20Something

      @RobertJCollier Hey Robert, thanks for chiming it.
       
      Dude – trust me, I get it. Although it’s one thing to realize that you’re “in the matrix” and quite another to try and get out, wouldn’t you agree?
       
      What projects are you working on now?

  • CMetAkeoff

    Soooo  what’s the formula????? lol Yes you can text it to me…  But I definitely agree with you. i would love to live a lifestyle where my interests were at the center

    • Rich20Something

      @CMetAkeoff That’s the question of the century, my man. I think the first part of the formula is getting really, really uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that you come to breaking point where you decide that no matter what SOMETHING has to change. Once you’ve come to that point, there’s no turning back, and it’s much more of a “how-to” attitude than a “what if?” or “can I?” attitude. You have to get that that point of no return before you can make a major change.

  • SergioValentin

    I remember reading this previously and wanting to respond but my analytical nature wanted to cover every point and this one friend has many good points.  However, I’ll just suffice by covering over all and saying, WELL SAID.  It isn’t lazy to be exceptional and if anything, the one’s looking to be free of the slave worker, mindless monotony -learn much of many things in order to discover a truth.  That alone is muuuuuch more engaging tha a sub-satisfactory job and the approval of the other “slave” (of course some people just want to work and I don’t knock them). My point is, we work harder.  It takes a lot of courage to fail in order to succeed.  To try many things and think hard and brain storm to find what it is that works.  The journey most have given up on before trying.  More over, the desire as you state is to build a sustainable system that runs itself so that we can get back to the REAL important things in life.  Like family, or traveling, exploring, enjoying food, fellowship, conversations, all the things we lose when we work 80 hours to sustain a 40 hour life.

    • Rich20Something

      @SergioValentin I specifically want to point out that MANY people DO give up before even attempting. I have never understood this logic — but I suppose it’s a protective measure to prevent yourself from feeling the effects of failure. In my eyes, “not failing” and “succeeding” are two very different things. Interesting psychological study though.

  • THISiSMARKC

    I couldnt agree more. Once you realize that time is more important that money, the journey to doing what you love to do becomes a lot clearer. We weren’t put on this earth to work. We were put here to nurture and care for those we love. You can only do that with time.

    • Rich20Something

      @THISiSMARKC and @MeCamLife yep – totally agree. The problem is first “waking up” and realizing what’s going on. It’s also hard to get out of the cycle (ie 9 to 5 work rather than pursuing purpose) when that cycle is what’s supporting you. It takes creativity and strength to break through.

      • Rich20Something

        @THISiSMARKC  @MeCamLife And thanks for the feedback, guys!

  • ddsuber

    The old saying is true: You can’t take it with you.  I also like Prince’s take on it–Money don’t matter tonight, sure didn’t matter yesterday, just when you think you have more than enough is when it all up and and flies away, that’s when you find that you’re better off making your soul’s all right…

    • Rich20Something

      @ddsuber Honestly, who can say no to Prince?

      • Rich20Something

        @ddsuber 40 comments! Nice!

        • ddsuber

          @Rich20Something Great 2 month conversation!

  • groundcoffee11

    As a 40+ I have spent the last 20 year’s living exactly what you are describing its now time for change

    • Rich20Something

      @groundcoffee11 I think the hardest part is realizing what’s going on around us. So many people suffer silently – but if we bring awareness to the fact that it’s OK not to be happy doing what culture dictates, it’s OK not to want to work endlessly in this fashion…that’s when we begin to have the ability to change the conditions. At least on a personal level.

  • Paul Ryan

    Great letter Daniel, and an awesome perspective on living life as you want. I’m in the process of this transition myself, it’s challenging but exciting at the same time.

    • Rich20Something

      @Paul Ryan Hey Paul, awesome to hear from you – and glad you liked the letter. The transition is tough…but so worth it.
       
      Keep pushing!
       
      DD

  • RFIndependence

    I have had a similar life experience as you did, and hate the what do you do question too. My mother also always asks if I am going to look for a job some day or if I need money haha.

    • Rich20Something

      @RFIndependence LOL – what are we going to do with all these moms asking dumb questions?

  • Molly

    Love this letter! Very real!

  • Tiffany Lee

    ddsuber Rich20Something CMetAkeoff THIS IS WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW!!  Sorry to yell but, seriously, I’m there.  Something will be different within the next couple of weeks…it just will be.

  • Rich20Something

    Tiffany Lee ddsuber Rich20Something CMetAkeoff Well let it out then! LOL.

  • Aman Chand

    I made this transition 2 years ago after working in IT for two years, realizing I hated it, then moving to Malaysia for 10 months till i ran out of money and had to come back home to “get a job” lol. Only I realized I wanted to live life on my terms, doing things I love and using my time and efforts making ME money, not working long hours for someone else making THEM rich. For those who haven’t made the transition, I hope this post inspires you to give it some serious thought. For those of us who have made the transition, it’s a great and timely reminder as to why we did in the first place. Totally printing this out and sticking on a wall somewhere as a daily reminder. Great post as usual.

  • frah90

    This is the more ispiring post i’ve ever read.. i believe..

  • DanielHind

    love it

  • You certainly don’t have to be 20 something to have these same thoughts and feelings. I joined the tribe to see what you are up to. Good on ya

  • Georgios

    What you are describing in your post is what many people think/hope/pray for, almost daily. However, you should be careful on how much you inspire people to live their lives, because the society as a whole is so brainwashed by the “system” that people can start talking down on you or even “attacking” you if they get jealous enough. The Greeks had been living the way you propose for decades but today this approach on life has stigmatized them as unproductive, lazy and bums. You only have one life and then it ends; don’t spend it working. Instead, spend it living it to the fullest and use a job to finance your activities! Let the so called “productive” employees sacrifice themselves so that their employers can expeience their life more.

  • MustafaGhuneim

    I believe the struggle starts when you become responsible for a family, rent/morgage, debt, etc. When the complexity of life reaches your core. You will be tied to a job that provides a 401K. I have been living in that fear for so long, I’m 24, and I am totally lost because I know that a job with a routine won’t be suitable for me but a freelance job won’t provide much in the future. However, ridiculous this might sound, I am crammed with these thoughts. So I totally agree and disagree with you. Don’t ask me how…

  • NatashaMonique1

    Some people get true and deep enjoyment from cooking, farming and teaching. They can own their own businesses just like everyone else. He isn’t saying that no one should engage in typical ‘work’ just love what you do and learn ways to do it better

  • AdamYNg

    great article

  • samgreen888

    All the things you wrote about, rang so true with me,that it was almost comical.
    I applaud the good ‘work’, ure doing for the masses and above all, for yourself. good luck with the rest of it 😉

  • You wrote exactly what I feel and I’m already 30. I could use some help on getting this kind of life…

  • Rebecca Rogers

    Daniel, This is exactly the type of article that gives the Gen X, Baby Boomers the idea that milenialls feel entitled… Keep reading youngsters I am not finished. I happen to follow your stuff, am 51 and know it couldn’t be further from the truth. The big difference between your generation and mine, besides kick ass tech savvy skills learned in kindergarten vs. playing with play dough is my generation bowed down to the status quo thinking. Go to school, get a job, marry, two kids, pay bills, take prescriptions, retire, die. Your millennial generation figured out that is bullshit and took risks to build a different normal.
    I admire, respect and learn from y’all. And I have grey hairs and crows feet.

    • Daniel DiPiazza

      You’re totally right! Our outlook is very different than even the generation before us — so I totally understand the frustration with family and friends who just don’t “get it.” Are you doing anything now to make up for “lost time” — or are you just enjoying watching the new generations grow? 🙂

      • Rebecca Rogers

        I am not sitting back and watching at all. I have taken a course to learn how to use my computer, beginning social media skills and just registered for a course on Instagram use. I don’t consider that I have ‘lost time’ perse because the opportunity wasn’t there when I was in my twenties. Had my first cell phone at thirty. (I hear that laughter)
        It’s about being open to learn and accepting this is the new world. Or you can just watch TV and complain that everyone’s always looking at their phone.

        • “It’s about being open to learn and accepting this is the new world.”

          I wish my mother could be more like this but she’s not been very open to new things, not even a phone. Could you help me, Rebecca? What can I say to my mom to get her, at least, interested in learning about and understanding the 21st century?

  • Vennette Jones

    Hi Daniel I’ve just finished reading your blog/vlog and I’m in total agreement with you, I’ve been thinking along those lines for at least10 plus years now and more so in the last 3 years.

    However, I’m not 20something I’m 3 times that,😆😄😂 and at the point now where I really no longer want to work for some one else leaving home at nights when I really should be settling down in my pj’s whilst my skills and natural creativity earns me a comfortable standard of living.

    This is what I’m now pushing for. Ideally I should have been a chef I have natural creative abilities to make a blow me away dish out of the most basic ingredients.
    Too many times I’m asked why have you not put you recipes in a book format and why aren’t you teaching these skills of yours to others? I guess it’s time to take the bull by the horn eh?

    You go Lad and been your own time boss, that’s what more young ones should be doing.

  • Adam Killian

    Daniel great response! I would travel wherever, whenever if I did not have a job a money wasn’t an issue. Traveling around, attending events: sporting and social alike.

    • Daniel DiPiazza

      Dope! Can you get a bit more specific? Which events, etc? 🙂

  • Kurt Weir

    Dude I want to do all of those things and you inspire me daily to better myself and become #rich20something! Thanks !

    • Daniel DiPiazza

      yeahhh!!! Awesome, bro! What type of business have you started?

  • Katie Germain

    Well Daniel I think I would work out with my trainer almost everyday (because I hate working out by myself). And if I wasn’t home I would be a glob trotter and gain knowledge on different cultures. I would attend all of the influential speakers such as Tom bilyeu and everyone has had on his show so far. I would want to help other people not hate their life because they’re stuck at a job because they have to pay the bills. I would attend Mindvalley U in 3 days if I had the financial resources to go to Barcelona for a month with out getting paid.

    On a side note of everything that I would do if I didn’t have to work everyday of my life. I’ve bought your book and it is so real and has so much good solid information. I definitely hope to use some of what I’ve learned in your book so I can get out of the 9 to 5. Just as soon as I figure out what I want to do!

    Thanks Daniel

    Katie

    • Daniel DiPiazza

      That’s actually a very, very good plan. Keep working through the book — trust me, you can get there 🙂 What type of business would you like to start, BTW?

  • Bridgette Salley

    Daniel, I’m so happy I found your blog, your podcast, and your book. These are the thoughts I was having after working in my first internship doing mind numbing data entry for 8 hours a day one summer during college.

    If I wasn’t working two jobs right now, I would be pouring myself 100% into building up my business by helping my best friend build hers instead of only being able to commit 10-20% every here and there. But it’s all a process, definitely hoping to one day be able to accomplish this thanks to your tips and encouragement!

    Thanks again for the amazing content!

  • Reading this blog made my heart race because I can relate so intensely to the exact internal and external struggles you were facing by feeling locked into your 9-5 and not having the true freedom you desire. If it were up to me I’d spend my life traveling this incredible planet, experiencing new cultures, creating digital art, reading fascinating books, cultivating in-depth meaningful relationships (become bffs with Elon Musk), playing piano, producing music, eating amazing food, and eventually finding a woman who shares my passions, and raising intelligent, loving children. All the other stuff can eat shit because life is too short to live someone else’s dream. I don’t want to waste my precious time making another company rich when I know I have the potential to build an empire of my own on my own terms. The world we live in now has endless possibilities and I want to be remembered as someone who took a risk as a young innovator and young entrepreneur. I don’t want to waste my life and my purpose on meaningless daily tasks at a job I have no investment in. Thanks for the read Daniel. Also, loving your book. I’m on Chapter 6 now!

  • Paul Sabaj

    While I totally agree with the post and I can relate to early jobs. I had one that lasted 4 hours. I told the owner is felt like a prisoner and don’t pay me because I’ll just have to wait for a tax form. I said let’s call this a learning experience. But I did work as a firefighter paramedic. Never had a day I didn’t want to work. But now I’m looking for a second career. I don’t want a J-ust O-ver B-roke job. Or a job that puts money in my pocket but robs my soul.
    I’m working to make my dreams come true and not someone elses.
    I don’t want to be like the zombies in the workplace like you see at Walmart.
    BTW your book is awesome brother

  • Kartika Ardenita Soedarto

    Hi Daniel! Just wanna say that you’re awesome.
    I’m from Indonesia, and I’m making a program to learn Conversational English through a chatting platform.
    I’m thinking of writing a book in the future. But I still don’t know what to write just yet. But I enjoy writing, and I found your self-destruct video which tells us to write everyday no matter what. So I’m gonna try to do that first.
    So hopefully I could release a book one day and make it an international released book. Thanks for encouraging me to do it!

  • Marques Moore

    I’m a millennial, I am entitled. I have all the right to be able to create the life that I want. And I am. I have an entire business on my cell phone. If you don’t think it’s possible to completely quit the depressing life you’re currently leading, you’re lying to yourself due to fear and you’re robbing yourself of the greatest gift life has to offer; freedom. The time is now. Take responsibility and start taking the necessary steps to change. Heaven on earth is waiting for you

  • Reuben M Luxton

    Yo Daniel, Just recently discovered your content and have to say that I spend most of my morning routine now reading through your previous blogs. I have been and am definitely still going through the phase of being asked ‘what do I do’. I spent a bit of time traveling two years ago, had the time of my life but hit a wall where I wasn’t being productive and was generally lacking purpose. Now I am two years into my college degree, and hit the same wall. I have lost interest in what I study for a multitude of reasons, most importantly it doesn’t seem relevant whatsoever! A lot of the reading I have done recently has told me that the College system is broken and not suitable for millennial’s, which has me nervous for the future. You are a wise guy, what would your most essential advice be to someone in this situation?

  • Nicholas Zilkowski

    Daniel, I eerily relate to this article a little too much. It’s like we’re separated twins lol. I have felt like this since college. I would try to learn how to build a webpage or look for things to sell to help pay my way through. I never wanted to work like my dad did. Don’t get me wrong, looking back I admire his work ethic, but he also worked multiple jobs, and weird hours. I hate people controlling my time and my money. I’d love to be able to travel with my gf and pay for her to go visit her family. I find a job, get really excited for a short period of time, and then it quickly wears off and I start to dread Monday (and Tuesday-Friday) cause it’s not what I want. It scares my gf (and myself sometimes) that I won’t find what I need to be able to provide or at least cover my minimum expenses. I am working 9-5 and have a couple side hustles going now that I REALLY want to see become something special!

  • I have to agree, it really doesn’t make sense the way our parents want to make us think. They work, work and work, so we can go to school, so that we can then can work, work, and work! That doesn’t serve to grow anyone. At least, not as much as they want us to think.

  • Bobby Boechay

    I too am from the era of being subservient and also was taught self punishment through ones self guilt. Miss a class or day of school but couldn’t enjoy it due to preprogrammed guilt, same for work. I truly felt and believe every word of your venting. Your as much a philanthropist as an entrepreneur bc of the freedom that you are endearing to the chained masses.

  • Hey Daniel,

    Nice article man. I just found Rich20Something a few days ago while reading knowledge over at under30ceo. I came over and bought your book and read it. Good stuff, it really helped me realize I just need to quit worrying about whatever excuse I could come up with and just start getting shit done regardless if it works or not!

    If I didn’t have to work, man I would still work! I’m really into web development and decided last year to sharpen my skills so I could grab up some freelance work. My first job, I worked some 30 hours straight without a break and earned the best hundred bucks of my life! But now I’m starting to realize, I’m kind of doing what I love, but I’m still working on other people’s ideas!

    If I owned my time, and now that I’ve read your book, I would focus on developing my own ideas no matter how far out there they get!

  • Ana

    I just clocked in to work and this is the first email I opened. I’m turning 25 in February next year and I can totally relate to your post. I have never held a job for more than 9 months because I always feel like I need more, There’s much more potential within me but today I just have to be honest with myself and say that I am not about this employment life. I am not fond of routines and yes it feels like indentured service! It’s about that time I get off my doubtful ass and do something about it. I’m currently working on a mental health project. Now I’m even more motivated to make it work. Your post is so relatable. Thank you for the motivation 🙂

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