One of the best parts about getting a little holiday vacation time with family is reflecting on what you want out of life.
While going through airports without a single problem to visit my dad in Michigan this past weekend, I was able to swap stories with him, play some Mario on the Nintendo Wii, randomly watch (and make sense of) “Red Sparrow,” watch the Detroit Lions lose again and hang out with two dogs and three cats.
It reminded me of my community college days in 2012 and 2013, when I use to visit him once or twice per week. During my time with him, I envied everything he had. We’re talking a stable career, a cabin to escape to whenever he wanted to for hunting, a boat to go walleye fishing on and a seemingly flawless plan to get there without any problems.
That’s when I realized the number one thing I want for the later years of my life is to have that quiet and simple lifestyle. Or my own version of it. A small cabin in the woods near a scenic body of water with a companion by my side and a crossbow and rifle to go deer hunting with in the fall, being proud of myself after becoming a successful author and getting my children to college.
But that simple and quiet life doesn’t get raised out of thin air.
No, it takes saving money over a very long period of time with a stable career to do it. But to get to that point, you first have to make sure you’re paying today’s rent, utilities, car loan payments, gas and food for yourself and your pet.
But with the way the job outlook is these years, the way to do that has changed and getting those jobs has been raised to even more difficult standards. It’s not just enough anymore to have a bachelor’s degree. You need experience and internships, which these days are unpaid more often than not.
You need to live in the correct place in the country that matches your career interests, and be able to afford to live there. You need to make friends and connections that could become future coworkers or future associates to be able to namedrop on your resume and references.
My personal favorite is you need to have social media accounts and keep your posts squeaky clean.
All of that is what it takes to capture the American dream these days. Even if you do capture that dream job in your preferred field, there’s no guarantee that field won’t change. Thanks to the infinite possibilities of the internet, your profession could face several layoffs and you could wind up having more responsibilities than you were trained to have in college.
We all know how tough it is out there. We all want to achieve that large direct deposit one day. But a large portion of Americans, after graduating college, find themselves in jobs to make just enough to live while those companies do everything they can to save every penny. As a Detroit Tigers fan today, you can understand that logic.
But we have to pay the bills, and you can’t build your simple life in the future without paying the bills first.
Contact Orrin Shawl at