Sometimes it makes sense to invest in your education or business in order to progress your career and move forward. And sometimes, you're just paying to put off your goals. Or, as author Ramit Sethi puts it, we pay to "delegate our life decisions to someone else."
Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis.
In his newsletter, Sethi writes:
I have a friend who's in his mid 20s and doesn't really know what he wants to do with his life. "So what are you going to do?" I asked him. "I don't know…I'm thinking of going back to school. Maybe get an MBA." Uncomfortable truth #591: Don't get an MBA unless it's a top 5 school. Not top 5% -- top 5. Top performers know this, but it's politically incorrect to say it. I get why he's thinking of grad school. It's safe and it's a "proven path." It couldn't hurt, right? But what's really going on is our tendency to delegate our life decisions to someone else -- in this case, a business school. It doesn't cost $150,000 to "figure things out." And unless you go to a top 5 school, the ROI isn't great. Plus, an MBA doesn't teach you how to start a business -- it teaches you about the structure of business.
Whether or not you agree with Sethi about business school, he has a point: $150,000 is a staggering price to pay for the odd chance of "figuring things out."
And this hits close to home. After college, I wasn't sure what to do with my life, so I thought about going to grad school. I even started studying for the GRE. "Why?" my Mum asked. "What are you going to get a degree in?" And the truth was, I had no idea. I was only doing it to bide my time in hopes that I'd figure out a path in the process.
Here's another example. You have goals you want to accomplish, like switching careers or writing a book. And instead of just doing it, you research classes on how to do it, pay hundreds of dollars for those classes, and in the end, you get nowhere.
Of course, sometimes those classes are helpful and 100% worth the money! And the stats still show that a college degree pays off over time, and sure, business school has a purpose. There's also something to be said for delegating your work and hiring help with certain tasks. Ramit's point, though, is that a lot of us do these things not because they're a means to an end, but because we don't want to confront the work ourselves.
It's something to think about next time you're thinking of "investing" in your career or business. Are you legitimately excited about the direction it will take you in, or are you simply using it as an excuse to procrastinate your goal?