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Does “Paying Your Dues” Equal Years of Cubicle Imprisonment?


By now you are starting to doubt it’s validity. And you are seeing many people, including your peers, openly mocking it on the web, in coffee shops, and even in the checkout line. It’s become a topic of disdain in certain circles, and one of dismay in others.

“Get good grades. Good to a good school. Send out a resume. Land a good job. Keep it.”

For many of us, this has been the party line since birth. It’s the one you will continue you hear every time you press the “send” button on Monster.com and, and it’s the one that you are starting to think is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There is this idea that you have to spend years toiling away at the bottom of the proverbial career ladder, or rotting away in a cubicle doing someone else’ dirty work (If you can even get inside the cube, in the first place) before you can move on to bigger and better things, more freedom, and perks.

It’s total crap.

Why do you have to wait until you are middle-aged to create an awesome (not decent) life for yourself?

Now, I don’t believe anyone can rise to the top of their field without experience, or without knowing something about what you do. I’m not saying that at all. But do I believe you have to trudge through muck for years just to “pay your dues” for the sake of paying your dues?

Hells to the no-no.

Look at the guy who has changed how we communicate, Mark Zuckerberg  the CEO of Facebook. Beyond wearing hoodies to work (did you see his Person of the year Profile in TIME magazine? He was totally rocking a hoodie and Converses),  Mark is slick ruling the world. And he’s 26.  What would his life be like right now if he had told himself to wait until he was 35+ to act on his dream?

He would probably be working for some corporation. Choking on the company kool-aid, making plans in his head about when he would start REALLY living. And we’d all still think MySpace is the ish.

If you are like me, you value personal freedom. And you are starting to realize that working hard and having no life, do not have to be one-and-the-same.  And if anyone tells you otherwise, I dare you to challenge them.

The most interesting (and scary) thing about Gen Y is that we are on the verge of a.) creating a revolution, or b.) submitting to total failure.  Most of us are running around confused because things are not going according to plan.  The rest of us have gotten it. We know we need a new plan, but we have no idea where to start.

My idea? Take a deep breath, and then take one step forward towards something. Keep moving in  a new direction.  You may have to figure it out on your way. But keep it moving! What are you dying to create?  Do you have an idea for something totally innovative? What’s stopping you?

Personal entrepreneurship can be as small or as grandiose as you envision it to be.  Perhaps, you want to gain some skills or contacts  from your day job before you try striking out on your own, or maybe your calling is to do such great work for an organization that you care about, that they have no other choice but to listen to you when you say to them, “Hey, I want to work from home for two days each week.”

It’s all about how it fits into your life.  The most important lesson of personal entrepreneurship is realizing that your time belongs to YOU, and doing what it takes to stand up for that.

Now, you go forth and be fabulous dammit. And don’t forget to share your thoughts!

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Amber J. Unplugged

For the last month, I haven’t had an Internet connection at my house. Basically, I have been living in a bubble. I never watch T.V. (we don’t have cable), and my Internet access is restricted to weekdays at work.

I’ve read  a lot of articles about the value of unplugging  technologically on several of my fav lifestyle design blogs.  I made the decision to unplug when my former roomate moved, taking the modem with her. I decided to try life offline. After all, I spend 7 hours of my day in front of a computer screen for five days straight.  I figured I could hack it.

Most people react with horror when I tell them I am net-less right now. We generally acknowledge that T.V. can be lived without, but the Internet, no way!  What if I miss a party invite on Facebook? Because who doesn’t spend a good chunk of time on FB daily?

Honestly, living without Internet access in my off hours hasn’t been half-bad. I’ve gotten caught up on a lot of books, spent more time with friends after work, and focused on getting in touch with my feelings the way I used to do before the way of the status update: by writing my thoughts down in my journal.

Without the ability to update the world on my current mood, I became forced to actually work through my emotions to the point of thinking about the problem in a logical manner.  It’s been a little revolutionary.

I think that was the most surprising part of this no-net experiment: being forced to get in touch with my inner emotions.  Previously, I’ve used the Internet as a well-meaning, sophisticated procrastination tool.  Anytime I was anxious about career stuff, I’d jump online to do “research” that usually lead me to clicking through the pictures of some random friend from high school’s bday party pics.

Now, I am forced to define exactly what I want to achieve during my online time. I get on and pretty much get it done. I still take the time to randomly surf a little, but it’s usually articles that sound interesting, versus spending too much time on social networking sites.  I’d rather spend my time being social with the people I care about.

Do you want to try an unplugging experiment?  Here are my random tips for moving forward with your life without stalling it online.

1. Check e-mail less frequently. A lot less frequently.
What do you think will happen if you only check your e-mail twice a day? Nothing, that’s what. The world won’t explode. You really won’t miss much (as anything you need to know will still be relevant when you do check your mail.) If you know something is time sensitive, you would be on the look out for it anyway, right?

2.  Set an agenda for what you want to accomplish. Including time for random surfing.
These days when I cut on my comp at work, I have a list of things I want to research online. During my offline time, I write down the things I am curious about, so I’m all set with an agenda.

3.  Relish in life outside of the world wide web.
Dinner and drinks with friends, long chats with my friends back home. No amount of checking my e-mail can replace these experiences and the joy I derive from them.

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