People always say, “Love what you do, do what you love.”
Or, “If you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”
It’s a utopian idea, and in principle it sounds easy, but for me, figuring out what I wanted to do was difficult. And I’m still not sure I’ve figured it out. I do know that when I wake up everyday I am happy to go to work. So take my advice: Do what you love, now.
If you are a college Senior or a recent graduate, you are currently faced with the greatest opportunity of your life. This is the one time that you can do whatever it is that you want and do it now. Unless you’ve already gotten married, had a kid, or are on probation, you can go and do what you want without apologies to anyone. No shame, no guilt, no strings—nothing should hold you back right now. In a few years that might not be true, responsibility will begin creeping up and keeping you from doing that one thing you most long to do.
So how is this “great opportunity” possible? For one, if you’ve been reading Young Money and making good decisions, you should have little to no debt. Many school loans give you a six month break before you have to start paying them. You can wait tables in Rio and meet your credit card minimums. (I know, Young Money would never suggest paying only the minimum on a credit card!) But it’s about balance: you may not be getting rid of your debt fast enough, but you are gaining valuable experience and figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life.
The second part may be painful, but living with Mom and Dad is probably free or close to it. Saving money on rent allows you to intern. And all companies love interns; after all, they’re free labor. Your greatest asset may be that you cost next to nothing to employ, except space and a computer. So, if you want to go intern with the Boston Red Sox for two years before they’ll start paying you, it’s worth it if baseball is your true love.
The third and possibly biggest factor: you have no dependents. No spouse, no kids, nothing. When I graduated from college I lived in Germany and then England for about a year. I made great friends, saw a different corner of the world, and was completely selfish the entire time. Everyone should do something just for themselves at least once. And, for those of you who do have a significant other and think that you can’t leave that person, trust me you can.
Don’t kid yourself. You may go to work for a studio in Hollywood, but your name is grunt. And it will stay that way for a while. Unless you have a connection you may see the stars but it might be a while before you can touch them. But even living a corner of your dream is better than wasting away in an office cubicle, cold calling deadbeats who owe money to their creditors.
The toughest part is figuring out what you want to do every day. Sometimes, it’s not so much the what, but the where, and the how. Some of my best days in the office were because I really liked the people I was working with. It’s also a matter of where. If you can snowboard in the morning, and work from eleven to seven in the evening, you may find that’s the life for you.
The point is, you should take a minute and think about it. The race can begin in a couple of months or even years. You have the rest of your life to run it.
Benjamin P. Levy is the CEO of Young Money and the publisher of Young Money magazine.