Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 5 December 2020

You deserve nothing in life but but you can earn anything

If you believe you are entitled to a great job or salary, you will never find you what you want

The 'treat yo' self' concept that you “deserve” a reward after a difficult day or week can quickly mushroom into excessive spending. Getty Images
The 'treat yo' self' concept that you “deserve” a reward after a difficult day or week can quickly mushroom into excessive spending. Getty Images

People on my Facebook feed constantly post about how they “deserve love” or a high wage job that aligns with their passions. Nope. To say that someone deserves anything implies there is some sort of cosmic justice balancing the scales, when all evidence points that the universe is a random place with no stabilising force at all.

The idea that you “deserve” a reward after a hard day can often blossom into out of control spending. We can see that in the idea of 'treat yo' self', popularised by one of my favourite US TV shows, Parks and Recreation. The “treat yo' self” attitude depletes our resources and wealth just to have a few trinkets, spa treatments and overpriced pieces of clothing. This is especially true if you have any debt in your life.

You also don’t “deserve” a high paying job, or a job that allows you to pursue your passions. It’s certainly comforting to think that forces in the Universe will combine to find you the right role that fits you like a luxurious glove, but those forces don’t care about your bank account and happiness levels. Nobody owes you that.

And thank goodness nobody owes us anything. Feeling like we will one day be presented with what we want; be it a relationship, a job, or a shiny car, just because we are “good” people is a debilitating delusion that keeps us passive for far too long, and then bitter when the world doesn’t work out the way we want. Why would we ever work or strive to accomplish those things if we were convinced that we would get them without any effort?


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The reality is that you have to go out to get what you want. If you want that other career, you need to put in the work to build the skills and get the certifications it requires, then make the contacts and sacrifices it needs. And you need a bit of luck too.

If you want a higher salary, then build more income streams through side projects or climb the corporate ladder, even if it means less free time, more responsibility, and playing the reviled game of office politics. If you want your creative dream job, you have to realise that millions of others also want that role, and those people are also talented, hard working, and self-sacrificing. Are you willing to be more extreme than them? Are you willing to accept that you aren’t the best, and won’t become so by just feeling like you deserve to be the best? How will you cope when you see people you view as less talented get their lucky break and achieve your dream? Because that will happen, and you need to be prepared for it. Remember, you deserve nothing.

But you can build anything, if you’re willing to put in the concerted effort and make the sacrifices it takes to be the best and reach your goals. It’s not easy. And that’s the way it should be, because you won’t know the deep satisfaction and joy of a life accomplished without getting what you want the hard way. That’s the only way to properly appreciate how valuable whatever you strive for is. If it’s just given to you, there’s no way you can understand how much sacrifice it took to get it. This is why the majority of lottery winners end up bankrupt. Easy come, easy go.

Here are a few steps that have helped me achieve my goals:

1. Know what you want and what makes you happy in life (beyond possessions).

2. Research how you can get it. Google is awesome. So are people who have accomplished what you want and can help you (they’re called mentors, and you can Google how to find them too)

3. Learn obsessively, like two to three hours a day because you want to, because you can’t go through life without this knowledge.

4. Create something related to what you want. Start a blog, create a YouTube channel, make a sculpture or business plan - something linked to your goal.

5. Put that stuff out into the world. The internet gives us incredible reach, no matter what field we want to get into or learn about. It’s OK if you think your stuff is terrible. At the beginning, it probably is. This is where mentors are awesome!

6. Keep at it. Don’t give up. If you’re creating things of value in the field you are obsessed with, with time and practice, you will improve to the point that people take notice. It’s when the right people take notice that real opportunities come your way.

7. Reaching your goals. Take the opportunities offered and do the very best you can with them. Show up on time, under promise and over deliver. Then you can pick a new goal or push this one as far as your life can take it. This can become a career or a relationship or anything you dream of.

I know this works, because I’ve done it. Nothing good in my life came from me thinking I deserved it. But if I wanted something deeply, I just kept learning and improving and trying and eventually, it usually worked out.

Remember; you deserve nothing. Instead earning it through hard work and determination is always better.

Dubai school teacher Zach Holz has won a huge following for his personal finance blog, The Happiest Teacher, which documents his journey towards financial independence

Updated: November 3, 2018 06:33 PM

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