Always Be Moving Forward: Nine Lessons Learned from Following the Rules

You go along with the checklist. You follow the rules. And you find that you still can’t “make it.”

Replace “you” with “me,” and that’s where I am now. 

You see, I did the pre-approved, Boomer-sanctioned thing: College. Grad school. Safety. Security. Don’t rock the boat. And I still have to get a second job. 

I’m not against working hard. But it is kind of depressing. 

Perhaps “disillusioning” is a better word. But I’m telling you, this is why I do not find it irresponsible to warn as many young people as humanly possible to explore alternatives to college. 

It’s another reason why I warn people away from law school as much as humanly possible. 

Law school provides you with some of the most unmarketable skills in one of the least-demanded fields. 

Every instinct telling you to go to law school? Listen to it, and then do the opposite. 

The same goes, generally, for college. 

Look, I’m no self-improvement guru. I don’t have everything together. But I can tip you off about what not to do. Why make the same mistakes someone else did?

  • Bust out of that cage of safety and take some risks while you’re young enough to undo them. Not everything can be fixed. But a lot can. Take calculated risks and don’t be a wimp. 
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your parents that they might be wrong. They want what’s best for you, but sometimes they may be operating under an outdated paradigm. 
  • Don’t go to law school. I’m serious about this. And in general, avoid college if you don’t need it. What you get out of it really isn’t worth the time or money. 
  • Get resilient. The cliche is true. A failure is only a failure if they don’t get back up. Learn to learn from mistakes and don’t let them define you. Trust me on this. 
  • No one care about you the way you think they do. You are not the star of a movie. Seriously. Other people aren’t sitting their judging you, and even if you do flame out in spectacular fashion, most people won’t remember you by dinner time. Use this to your mental advantage by ignoring them. 
  • The old rules don’t apply. The checklist life isn’t going to cut it. Your job will be automated or outsourced to a cheaper foreign replacement. Your employer wants to fire you yesterday. Don’t have blinding loyalty to them and think like a shark: Always be moving ahead to the next opportunity. 
  • Use the Internet to your advantage. This is a gift. If you’re not working some kind of side-hustle using the Web to your advantage, what are you waiting for?
  • Be skeptical of everything touted as a good. Especially if it’s some new, innovative thing. Whether it’s some gadget or politician or career path or new trendy super-food (whatever the hell that is), remember: SOMEONE STANDS TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FROM IT, AND CHANCES ARE IT’S NOT YOU. 
  • Have fun. Or at least try to. Life is hard enough, so try to get some laughs in when you can. 

From failure comes wisdom. Take advantage of both my failures and my wisdom and pay it forward. 

Follow me on Twitter at @DaytimeRenegade and @DaytimeRenegade

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15 thoughts on “Always Be Moving Forward: Nine Lessons Learned from Following the Rules

  1. I agree with everything you say there Alex and don’t have much more to contribute except the observation that four places I have worked for in my career have ended up firing most or all staff from a department I was part of. Luckily I never was on the receiving end either because I saw the signs or just because I got bored that I wanted to take a risk. There were people there who were loyal – always is all they have ever known and thought loyalty counted , to end up unemployed just because they couldn’t adapt and survive. Excellent post and I hope things get better for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Hey thanks James!

      Four times the department’s gotten the axe…brutal. I’ve been on the chopping block myself and it’s opened my eyes. And it’s going to get worse with automation I think. Here in the US, we seem hellbent on replacing workers with cheaper foreign labor or robots. Yay capitalism…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I must be bad luck or have worked in some crappy places. Same in the UK it’s normal to see touch screens in stores or do call centre via robot or India. I thought about making extra cash via freelancing and see people doing it for a few dollars per article from third world countries. Not for me!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. EA says:

    Solid list. In the UK the days of working for a single organisation, retiring at 60 with a final salary pension and a house paid off years before (which is now worth a fortune) – oh and no student loans because they were free! – are long gone. My parents (68/70 respectively) have not quite grasped this at times.

    With that said the opportunities to experiment out there really are limitless – you just have to think laterally, try low risk/low cost things out on the side and avoid the weapons of mass distraction that exist through TV/social media etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Exactly! And the same Internet is what can help navigate the changing world of work.

      The world our parents lived in and tried to fit us into is long gone. It’s good that we know this so we don’t make the same mistakes with our children.


  3. Yes! I love your transparency here. Can you give a motivational speech to my students?! 🙂 I do, however, disagree with your college perspective to a degree. Not everyone should aim for college and no one should view it as the Promised Land – agreed. However, I do think there is a population that stands to gain. The problem is that most aren’t emotionally, psychologically, and/or mentally ready. I also played it safe, and I have both benefitted and suffered from my choices. But it’s the resilience you’re getting at here that is absolutely essential for not just surviving but thriving in adulthood. Thank you for sharing these insights!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Absolutely Lauren; glad you liked it. As far as being a motivational speaker…are you sure you didn’t mean DE-motivational speaker?

      I kid, I kid.

      I think you raise good points about college–it’s not for everyone, and perhaps we do funnel everyone into the university system too young.

      Isn’t it funny how playing it safe turns out often to not be the best thing?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. EA says:

        Piggy backing off the conversation I would LOVE to go to University and be able to study – the only caveat is that I had no real idea of what I wanted to do until I went back to college at 23 for a Diploma, and ended up doing reasonably well.

        Also I am 27, have a job etc. so the chains of responsibility are reasonably loose but they are still present.

        Doing a distance learning course now for some professional development and even with an entry level job/no kids/mortgage etc its still requires some discipline/organisation to chip away at it.

        I guess I am still stuck in the old “must have X piece of paper to do Y” mindset – lots to think about and plan in the future…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Daytime Renegade says:

        I think online/more self-directed avenues of learning *are* the future though. This current model is unsustainable. Just think about what tuition rates will be in a few years, at least here in the US…


      1. The Daytime Renegade says:

        Free in Scotland but not England just seems…off somehow.

        Let me guess: English taxes pay for this “free” school.


  4. EA says:

    Would honestly need to do my homework on that Alex. Although I feel Higher Education is going to be the next big bubble to burst (a little like pensions/company loyalty/housing etc)

    Liked by 1 person

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