Finding Yourself Is a Good Investment

You might have been one of those people that when they were young took some time to find themselves either after high school or post secondary.   Which granted does sound a little odd, after all are you just you?  How can you really find yourself?  Well guess what, those people are likely making a good investment even if they lose a year of income doing it.

Say what!?! Yes, I think people that take the time to find themselves are likely making a good investment.  Why?  Simply put they don’t piss around the long way learning what they are good at and what makes them happy.  As such they can potentially save thousands of dollars on secondary education, going through the credit card debt cycle on stuff they don’t need and they are more likely to put their full effort into what they try their hand at.

Think about the number people you know that are in jobs they dislike or hate, are in therapy for their issues or just have so much debt because they don’t really know what they want from life.  Now think about how many of them would likely be further ahead in life both financially and in happiness if they knew themselves better and what they really wanted in life. Likely that would be most of them.

I know I personally didn’t take the time to find myself.  As such I’ve taken a long while to realize that I really like to write and would love to do it full time.  To me writing is as easy as breathing some days (editing is an entirely different matter).  My passion for writing has always been overshadowed by a fear of not making enough money at it to live.  So this is why I have a drive to be financially independent at an early age.  I want the ability to write without the pressure of taking on a lot of writing work I dislike just because it happens to pay well.

Yet because I didn’t understand this about myself at an early age I didn’t bother to look into the fact the it is possible to get a job writing that does pay the bills.  You likely won’t get rich at it, but if your income requirements are modest (which mine are) you can live on it.  This isn’t to say I totally regret my choices in life, but I certainty do wish I would have realized these facts at a much earlier age.

So while I’m still getting to where I want to be in life, it has taken me a much longer time to get there had a realized some things at an earlier age.  My point is that knowing yourself regardless of age is a good investment.  Take the time to sit still and explore the corners of your own mind.  You might find a few interesting facts about yourself that can help plan your life now or even give your retirement plans a little more direction.  As for the details on how to do this…see the self help section of the library as a good place to start.

So did you ever take some time to find out what you want from life?  Do you think it paid off?  Or if you didn’t take the time, do you know now what you want?

13 thoughts on “Finding Yourself Is a Good Investment”

  1. I’m glad your passion is writing, because you’re one of my favorite blogs to read.

    I find you constantly insightful, and in personal finance that’s not easy to do.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog.

  2. I am 45 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂 I doubt taking a year off when I was 18 or 21 would have changed that… I still hope someday to discover my passion.

  3. I’m like Tara C and am taking a year off next year, at 35! A gap year when I was 18 probably wouldn’t have been wasted, per se, but I’m pretty sure it would have been a fog of booze and music festivals 🙂

  4. The people I knew who took time to “know themselves” between high school and college ended up doing what @guinness416 described – partying. I doubt they were ready for college anyway. Taking time off later in life is probably more fruitful.

    I had the good fortune of going to nursing school right from high school and I found my calling. I have been a nurse for 30+ years. One of the many great things about nursing is the variety of jobs availabile to nurses. I am retiring at the end of this month but I plan to work per-diem which is another perk of nursing … part-time or casual work is always available.

  5. I think it takes a bit of living/working to realize that some of our choices were based on fear or meeting our parent’s expectations. It’s unusual for most young people to be that self-reflective; the wiring in their brain just isn’t there yet.
    I’m grateful that I found a passion early in my life that I could turn into a vocation. But I’ve taken a short hiatus to slow down, simplify and generally declutter my head. It’s been a gift and an annoyance. I now see that I push myself too much and don’t enjoy the moment. Why I do that, I’m not sure, but I certainly had this habit in university and it continues today at work.

  6. I would totally recommend that people read Nicholas Lore’s work on finding the right work. He has a book out just for young people at the stage of finding a career, but it’s good advice for someone of any age. He gets into everything – Myers Briggs, interests, environment…

    What we don’t know too is that there are fairly high paid jobs that involve quite a lot of writing in careers like finance – writing annual reports, business plans, prospectuses, offering memorandums… I’ve done all of them myself – BUT having said that – the average “writer” in Canada makes something like $10k/year. But I think with the recent surge in e-publishing, things might improve – check out J.A. Konrath’s blog for more on that.

    Like another commenter said, I do think most people do need some time out in the real world trying things out rather than introspecting themselves into a career. I’m sure lots of young lawyers back in the day got into it thinking that they wanted to be like the people in L.A. Law and not realizing it wasn’t really like that in real life.

    I read some good advice somewhere that said something like “figure out what kind of LIFESTYLE you want and then build a career around that”. That’s where I think that Dave is making a good move getting into something that allows for contract work down the road – easy to find, pays well, can only work for a couple of months a year or part-time… Sort of like the nursing above.

  7. I have retired and haven’t figured out what my work passion was or would be! I was too lucky to have chosen something I don’t hate too much and have made not too bad an income. I too doubt taking time off right after school would benefit the individual much, I think if the individual matures (mentally) earlier, there is a better chance he/she knows what he/she wants. I also noticed the oldest child in a family matures a little earlier.

  8. College was both the best and the worst for me. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know my limitations. I had to bash my head against the wall by retaking a few classes a couple of times to discover where my interests and talents meshed best.

    Thus it took me 6 years of attending college full time before I finished with a bachelor’s degree… can you imagine how much longer that would have been if I had to “find myself”?

    And then there were the 4 years after earning the degree that I spent trying to get my career started…

  9. Interesting discussion. I didn’t fully consider how immature some people are at those ages, so yes I would agree that some people won’t benefit that much from a break. Others would find it useful. It depends heavily on how self reflective people are.

    So for the immature doing it later in life does make sense, as that tends to get better as people get older.

    Jacq – I agree many jobs have some writing with them, thus even writing engineering manuals isn’t all that bad. I think perhaps that is why I’ve enjoyed a number of my jobs is I’ve always had to do some writing for them all: reports, summaries of policy, etc.

    Thanks everyone,

  10. for me that’s what college was. I went and took classes were i didn’t learn anything useful. I just had alot of fun, but i feel that if i hadn’t done that in college, i would have had take time off and get it out of my system eventually.

    Since i went through it, i’m ready to buckle down and work hard for a little while 😉

  11. I don’t think it has anything to do with maturity, it’s about life experience. I mean, I was a reasonably mature kid when I finished high school – I was smart and confident, had worked at part-time jobs for 3 years, had saved money, had travelled by myself, had experienced sex and drugs and rock n roll – but I was still pretty clueless about adult life. What does a 17 year old know about what day to day work life really consists of or relationships/marriage or managing real income or being away from family and friends for extended periods or the many other things that may impact what they want to “do with their life” ten or twenty years later? I really do think time off beyond pure relaxation, if you need or want any, is much better spent later.

  12. Funny enough, I did the whole “travel through Europe after college” thing. Cliche, I know. But not at 28 years old, I graduated college at 28 because I did my undergrad part-time, while working so that I had no student loans after graduation.

    I didn’t do it to find myself, at first. But when I got there, boy did I find myself. I realized what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life and I realized what my passion really was.

    Taking time out from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, I came home with a new perspective on life. It was the best thing to ever happen to me while I was away for a year (other than travelling to 6 other countries of course).

    btw, love your blog.

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