The conventional wisdom in our society says that if you go to University and get a degree then you are going to get a good-paying job and live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.
But is this still true for most people graduating today?
Record levels of student loan debt, graduate underemployment and widespread career unhappiness suggests otherwise.
The Conventional Path:
We are all familiar with the conventional path to success, it goes something like this:
1. Spend 15-20 years of your life in a classroom obeying the rules, do all your homework on time and become adept at rote learning and memorization to score high on tests.
2. Use your high test scores to get into a prestigious University and study a high-paying profession at your parents will love, preferably medicine, engineering, finance, computer science or law.
3. Graduate in 4-6 years and then land a high-paying job serving a big institution in the government or starting the long climb up the corporate ladder.
4. Finally, sell the most productive years of your life to an employer and in exchange the banks will help you secure a mortgage for a big house, a luxury car and enough credit to all those status symbols celebrated by celebrities on TV.
We all know this path. It’s synonymous with the American Dream. But as the comedian George Carlin famously quip, “they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe in.”
Warning this video contains vulgar language but George Carlin is a brilliant social critic and comedian.
But What If This Is Not Your Dream?
The conventional path is the foundation myth of every consumer society. It’s perceived as safe and secure. Parents love it.
But what if you’ve got bigger dreams than working for the government or a multinational corporation?
Well, there’s a more creative path that you can choose to follow.
Maybe you’ve already followed the conventional path and realized that it isn’t the best path for you to fulfillment and meaningful work.
The reality today is that the University degrees that pay off in dividends are usually in highly competitive faculties where the only way to survive is to work extremely long hours and learn technical skills that are very hard to both acquire and maintain.
If you can apply similar focus, discipline and work ethic to following your own self-directed learning path then you can be just as successful financially following the creative path of unschooling yourself.
If you’re going to put so much focus and hard work into your education why not embrace the do-it-yourself ethos and design your own life on your own terms.
Instead of following other people’s tracks on the crowded conventional path, you can distinguish yourself by hustling every day to develop your talents and actively sharing your own creative talents with the world using the Internet.
The Internet is empowering a new generations of self-learners learners who are unschooling themselves.
Unschooling is an educational philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. It’s certainly not for everyone but if you’re wired a little differently with a burning desire to learn, create and explore then it may be the right path for you.
The rise of a new generation educated by the Internet and the incredible accessibility of online learning today provides an alternative path to sitting in a classroom where you can design and follow your own personalized learning curriculum.
I call it the creative path.
The Creative Path:
The Creative Path is the entrepreneurial path where you follow your curiosity down the rabbit hole and use your creative problem solving skills to create value for others and sell it to the right people.
There isn’t a standard curriculum or conventional map to follow like enrolling in a University. Instead, the world becomes your classroom and each day becomes an adventure you choose by setting your own goals, work as hard as you can and seeking out mentors and accountability partners to help you along the way.
The reality is that people rarely ever find their dream job. Instead, they create it themselves through focus and determination.
If you want to embrace unschooling and follow the creative path, here some of my recommendations and do-it-yourself resources and guides I’ve made for my students over the years:
1. Brand Yourself and Build Your Online Reputation
2. How To Create Your Own Website and Digital Portfolio
3. A Guide To Keystone Habits For High Performers
4. A Guide To Flow States: How To Find Your “Zone of Genius”
5. The DIY MBA: A Lean Startup Guide To Entrepreneurship
Start by prioritizing your self-education and the development of your unique talents and gifts to a high level of mastery.
Thanks to the Internet, the rules of work and learning have changed. While rote learning was necessary for the Industrial Age and the needs of the 20th-century workplace, I believe unschooling and self-directed learning is much better way of learning for the 21st-century innovation-driven Internet Age today.
You don’t have to work in a cubicle or study in a classroom if you’re willing to develop the focus and discipline to get things done on your own. The canvas of creative possibilities for how you live, work and learn is so much bigger than it was a decade ago.
The New Economy favours the entrepreneurial individuals who are the early adopters of new ideas, technologies and skillsets.
Thus, the future belongs to the creative dreamers, big thinkers and most importantly, the doers.
That’s what the process of unschooling teaches you to do.