Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy....a job?

I know, I know....you start a blog and then you don't write.  Aren't you a writer?  The answer is yes...how good remains to be seen.  I've been busy.  Doing what you ask?  "Thank you," says the writer, "and smiles at the self-serving segue."  I've been WORKING. Oh, excuse me for a moment.  Yes...pay that bill and that one...push these other two out a couple of weeks until after the tuition payment is due.  Check the schedule, yes, I can work the soccer tournaments in Memphis and Dallas.  Dallas will be big, Thanksgiving weekend.  I'll miss some family time...but you do what you have to.

Okay...where were we?  Oh yes...WORKING!  I work.  Most of us do.  We work because we have responsibilities or obligations.  A mortgage, car note(s), groceries, utilities...on and on.  So we work to pay for those things.  Some of us have more obligations than others.  College loans, child support, alimony, second mortgages, yacht payments.  Ok, I threw the last one in. I don't have a yacht payment and don't know anyone that does.  The point is the added obligations might be a choice or they might not be.  The reason doesn't really matter...its the obligation that's the point.

And now to the point of the article.  I was scanning my homepage this morning and came across an article about an Occupy America group getting arrested and moved out of a park in New York City.  Apparently, this campground has been in operation for two months now.  What?  These guys are still around?  I thought they just took a break from playing their Xbox for a weekend, yelled through a megaphone for a while and then went home.  They are still protesting?  What exactly are they protesting?  Find one of the people involved in these "protests" and ask them.  They don't know.  So I googled Occupy America and read seven different articles about protests in different cities.  I still don't know what they are protesting.  One protester said they are protesting banks.  What about them?  It seems banks charge fees to their customers in order to make a profit.  (Gasp in shocked horror) NO!  The scoundrels.  Shame...Shame....Shame.  Another protester says they are protesting universities and the reduction in scholarships.  The quote that made me smile the biggest was, "If college is only for people with money, it will be a very unrewarding experience for everyone."  Didn't do so well on the ACT did you?  The most articulate protester I read was angry that he had graduated from college with Bachelor's and Master's Degrees and couldn't find a job in his field that would allow him to pay off his debts and maintain a decent lifestyle.  My heart goes out to you bro.  Articulate, yes...unrealistic and acting entitled?  Absolutely. 

Look at the pictures from these "protests."  A lot of 20 and 30 somethings angry because they are finding the world isn't being handed to them in the manner they want.  HELLO!  Earth to Generation Y.  Please pay attention to the following Public Service Announcement....the world doesn't owe you anything.  If you want something, be prepared to go out and work for it.  And in the real world, you might bust your ass for months and years to reach some lofty goal.  And you might fail.  Miserably.  And you might not get the big house, Lexus, mountain chalet and ocean front villa.  You might even have to work (no, no, please....not THAT) a second job to make ends meet.  (Gasp, louder this time)

I went to a Human Resources managers meeting recently where a speaker talked about the different generations in the workforce today.  For the first time in the history of our economy, four distinct generations are represented.  Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.  The Millenials aren't too far away, so get ready for them too. Note to the reader, yours truly fell into Generation X...mainly because my parents are Boomers.  I don't necessarily share Generation X philosophies. But more on that another time. Interestingly, if you look at the Occupy protesters, the majority of them fall into the Generation Y category.  What do we know about the Gen Y'ers?  Technologically savvy.  The "I want it now" approach.  Raised by the first batch of "Helicopter" parents that brought forth the fantastic philosophy of "Everyone gets a trophy."  That's right, all you have to do is show up...and you get a trophy.

Can it be that simple?  Can the underlying philosophical and psychological underpinnings of Occupy America really lie in the fact that these protesters are angry about...not getting what they want by just showing up?  Look at the articulate protester...I have my Masters and a bunch of student loans that I can't pay off with the jobs I am being offered, so I am waiting to get the job that will allow me to pay them off and maintain a decent lifestyle.  Really?  Then I read further...twenty somethings are moving back home, living with their parent's longer, delaying kids and marriage because they are unable to find the jobs they want.  Really really?  The government needs a program....I shouldn't have to pay back these loans...its not fair that I can't get what I want.....WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!   REALLY?

Ok...deep breath.  You can do this...without being self-congratulatory or a know-it-all.  No one likes a know-it-all.  Attention Occupy America.

1.  GET A JOB.  I love that college students walk out of college with a diploma and say, "Here I am world, hire me!"  I thought that for a bit after college.  The real world woke me up quickly.  Bills.  A wedding...new house, used car (Don't buy new cars Gen Y, its not a good investment, buy good used ones.  That advice is a freebie).  I also get that Gen Y'ers are looking for a higher level of job satisfaction.  I would love for everyone to love the job they have.  But you have to start somewhere.  Many many many successful people of all ages started at the bottom.  Its a great place to start to get to the top.  Supreme Court Justices started as law clerks.  CEO's started in the mailroom.  Do they have mailroom's still?  I read an article about the Managing Partner of an Engineering firm whose first job out of college was with a construction company.  As a GENERAL LABORER making minimum wage.  There isn't a job that is beneath you.  Really.  Your identity shouldn't be taken from the job you have.  Your identity should be taken from who you are as a person. 

2.  Be a grown-up.  Being a grown-up starts with getting out of your parents house.  Get an apartment.  Can't afford one?  Get a roommate.  Split the bills...it can work.  Really.  The longer you stay under mom and/or dad's roof, the longer you put off being responsiblr.  Paying rent/mortgage, utilities, all the things that grown-ups do.  Start saving if you can.  Really.  Saving your money is something I wish I had done a long time ago.  Because I didn't do that well back in the day, I am having to work that much harder now.  Make a plan and stick to it.  This applies to saving as well as your job/career/life plan. 

3.  Be a grown-up Part II.  I will repeat something I said earlier.  The world doesn't owe you anything.  Take this to heart and learn to live it.  If you want something, get ready to work for it.  You don't love your job, find one that you do love.  You don't want college loans...study more and get merit based scholarships.  You don't want to pay back your college loans?  BE A TEACHER or any of several other programs that will allow you to defer your payments or even have them forgiven.  Put the video game controller down, stop drinking a $5 cup of coffee every day and put your big boy/girl pants on.  It can be a scary thing being on your own.  But the rewards of doing it and doing it well are beyond what you can imagine.

I count myself among the very fortunate.  I have a great job that gives me a very good living.  My annual pay falls in the upper-middle class range and I am blessed to have it.  I work hard at it though.  I earn it.  With all that, I still have obligations that exceed my income.  Those that know me know that for that reason I have a second job that I enjoy tremendously that I use to meet my obligations.  If my boss is reading this, please note the second job in no way, shape or form interferes with my primary job.  The end of the story for me is that being a grown up means that you do what you have to do in order to take care of what needs taking care of.  I work hard.  I am among the millions of people that work hard.  I don't ask for special recognition.  I don't ask for a trophy because I showed up.  I get my rewards internally...my obligations are met.  College tuition is being paid.  As is the mortgage on a house I really like.  A car that gets me where I need to go.  And my kids are getting what they need and want.  Like the end of the Visa commercials....PRICELESS!

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