Recently, my father decided to go back to school, so he enrolled in a night course with me, which means we’ve been spending more time together then we have in years.
You’re probably thinking that all of this quality father/son time is adorable, but the reality is that the two of us rarely ever see eye to eye – introduce a classroom to our dynamic, and we become arch nemeses.
Our conflict stems from the fact that he perceives my views as liberal and generally naive, while I think he is conservative and a little out of touch.
A couple of weeks ago in class, we were on opposing sides of an issue like we normally are; however, this time my father seized an opportunity to make things personal and hit me where he knew I would feel it.
The topic we were discussing that evening was: “What motivates employees?” A group, including my father, agreed that money was the greatest motivating force in the workplace, yet the professor presented research suggesting that other factors, such as challenging work, a clear connection to future goals and aspirations, and positive relationships with coworkers and managers motivated employees to be more productive and approach their jobs with more enthusiasm.
Inspired, I shared how I prioritized finding work that I considered to be meaningful over jobs that offered high salaries during my recent job hunt, to which my father rebutted: “He mightn’t had taken that Community College job if he wasn’t living with me rent free!”
It’s true, my father has always been my hero every time I have gone through a major life transition (e.g. this time, my plan to move abroad fell through, and I found myself between jobs and out of an apartment, so I decided to take a risk and launch a business). Still, I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the ground – my father got me good.
After some reflection – and major ego restoration – I came to see that my father was actually trying to remind me that I’ve been able to pursue my dreams because I possess a lot of Capital.
For this “Thought”, I discuss 4 ways to be rich and make progress towards your dreams even when your bank statements say you’re broke.
#1. Appraise Social Capital
Social capital refers to the value created by the people in our lives. Family, friends and our professional associates are all valuable assets, particularly when making a major life transition.
While the delivery of his message could have been more tactful, my father was unequivocally just in his assertion that I might have prioritized a large salary in my recent job hunt had I not been the beneficiary of the security and support that he provided me.
Receiving help from a parent to make a down payment on a house, getting recommended for a position by an associate in a coveted company, or crashing on a friends couch in a time of need are just a few examples of how each of us has probably benefited from social capital; in addition, the belonging and sense of connection created through our social networks is extremely valuable.
Though social capital varies greatly from person to person, I’d like to believe that if each of us appraised our social networks, we’d realize just how wealthy we are.
When you’re broke and chasing a dream, it’s important to cultivate your social capital. For example, stay present in the lives of the people you care about and continue to expand your network. Also, don’t be afraid to humble yourself and tap into your social capital – you might be surprised how willing and able people are to provide you with what you need to keep pushing forward.
#2. Expand Human Capital
Human capital refers to our intrinsic talents, skills and abilities. Besides who you know, the return on investment in what you know can’t be underestimated, especially when you’re trying to bring a dream to fruition.
Thanks to the internet and the public library, expanding your repertoire of talents, skills and abilities has never been easier – or cheaper! You can learn almost anything online or in a book. Moreover, your local community college is a great resource for Career and Technical Education, which provides direct access to many of the most popular and fastest growing careers (check out my post “5 Reasons to Get a Certificate” for more information).
Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean that you can’t become an expert on a topic or in an area of interest to you, or you can’t pick up a some new skills that could come in handy later on down the line when you’re trying to launch that business or apply for that dream job.
#3. Diversify Economic Capital
Economic capital is the capital we’re most familiar with – and probably the type of capital we’d like to get better acquainted with – and it refers to cold hard cash.
While human and social capital are important, “money makes the world go round“.
It cost money to interview or start a business, and that’s on top of eating, keeping up with a phone bill and car insurance, or student loan payments (if you are one of the millions of Americans grappling with student loan debt), so I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize the importance of diversifying your economic capital.
When you’re transitioning between careers or starting a business, you probably don’t really want to commit to a 30+ hour per week job; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make money.
If you live in a major metropolitan area and have a car, contract with car sharing or delivery service and take advantage of the flexible schedule. It’s becoming increasingly popular to sell things online. If you have a talent or skill, chances are there is someone willing to pay you for them. In short, hustle!
#4. Cultivate Spiritual Capital
One of the first things to be sacrificed when life gets tough is health and faith. Spiritual capital is an original concept that I am using to represent the value in attending to the body and soul.
Exercising and praying and/or meditating are free, but they are two activities that can reap major benefits in your life. Hitting local trails or walking around your neighborhood is a great opportunity to reflect and strengthen your body. Moreover, having faith that a force greater than yourself is working out the things that are beyond your control is a great way to lighten your load and free up your mind so you can focus more on the things within your control.
Accomplishing a dream can be a long and arduous journey full of trials and tribulations, which is why it’s so important to focus on creating value in all aspects of your life.
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