I don't have all the answers, but I do have some, along with many questions that should pique your brain, rouse your curiosity.
I'm an entrepreneur at heart. As an author, I'm All-Indie. I'm one-hundred-percent Indie. But each of us needs to choose our own way. We cannot follow another as our individual paths will differ. However, each success inspires us, spurs us on, encourages us.
One of my wisest precautions to high school and college graduates would be to seriously consider your first job. It is that initial step into your future--highly important on its own--but could also entrap you. I was making good money as a legal assistant. The term is "golden handcuffs" because it is hard to leave a high salary. More difficult for some than others.
But that job was not feeding my soul.
My second career fulfills my heart. That is where my happiness lies. Being an author. Self-employed. Entrepreneur. Creative. Another arm of that is my freelance copyediting work. What could be better? I get paid to read and improve another author's work using my somewhat photographic memory, my knowledge of English grammar and spelling, plus my love of the written word.
Remember Newton's First Law of Motion? A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion ("inertia") at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.
Based on Newton's findings, one person can remain at rest or that one person can be in constant motion. One.
In order to change that state, "one" needs to be "acted upon by an outside force." A second. Whether person or thing.
What if there is no "second" to knock you into your purpose or to knock you out of the wrong purpose for you?
Watch out for your first job. It could set you up for life in the wrong place. Do some research. If you hate being on the phone and that is what the job is about, then you will be one miserable soul. If it is a rare position, there would be not only the intense competition to get hired, but then no place to go, right? No advancement opps.
You spend so much time at work and, no, it is not forty hours a week. That is some huge misnomer. There is the commute. For me, it was three hours daily at the worst. One-and-a-half hours at the best. Then the "lost" hour for lunch--you don't get paid for it and you can't exactly earn other money at this time. So we are up to forty-eight hours (or more) a week.
Calculate your salary based on forty-eight hours a week to get a truer picture of what you are earning an hour. And we aren't even going to look at after-tax earnings.
I haven't begun to count overtime hours, or the time getting ready for work, including dry cleaned suit and tie for you guys and heels and hose for us gals, after the showering and shaving and blow-drying hair. Another hour a day. Fifty-three hours a week is the tally now.
Then the associated time involved in having such jobs: dropping off and picking up dry cleaning, buying new hose because the others have runs, putting gas in the car, self-study in connection with your job and what about dropping the kiddos off at school or day care?
There are added costs: the aforementioned childcare services or a maid or a cook or service that provides premade dinners, etc. Not to mention the added exposure to buy your lunch instead of brown-bag-it, or for those coffee drinks every time you pass a kiosk.
My life has so simplified the moment I quit working for others and began working for myself.
No more buying a tank of gas every four days. Now is it more like every three to four months. Even during those times when I need a day job to make ends meets, I still only fill up my tank once every thirty-four days because I find local work, no more than five miles from my home.
No more oil changes every quarter. Now it is every three years.
No more pantyhose. Hallelujah! I wear comfy clothing.
No more 9-to-5. I work everyday--weekends and holidays--because I am having so much fun. But I get to do it at my choosing, whether 6:00 a.m. to noon, or 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
No more three-hour commutes in the dark. I walk eighteen steps to my home office.
No more evil alarm clocks. I wake to the sunlight pouring into my bedroom, or a paw of a hungry cat on my cheek.
This works for me. Seek out what works for you. Happiness trumps more money.
Don't have regrets while you are retired, reviewing your life, judging how you spent your time.
Don't die wondering.