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  • Writer's pictureMatt Higgins

The 5 Pieces of Advice I'm Sick of Hearing

As we enter a bleak economic downturn, everyone seems suddenly qualified to dispense advice on how to weather this storm. While they might (mostly) be well-intentioned, there are too many pieces of advice floating around that simply aren’t practical anymore.

Times have changed, that much we can all admit. Our economic markets and social landscapes are ever-evolving and truisms that once made sense in the late 2000’s and 2010’s no longer apply.

When we get bombarded with conflicting pieces of advice, we tend to ignore it all and settle for the status quo. We assume that all advice is uninformed and incorrect, and therefore we choose to throw it all out, and do nothing instead.

In Burn The Boats, I challenge this notion of apathy, and detail the ways we can avoid rationalizing ourselves into maintaining our status quo. Instead, you should all look within to find the fire that can lead you to accomplishing your wildest dreams.

These are all rationalizations that maintain the same status quo. But the time will never be right. You can’t predict how things will unfold, and you can’t schedule your triumphs. The world will not wait for you. To live a life of perpetual growth, you have to leverage what you are doing today to move you closer to what you want to do tomorrow. Manifest Your Boldest Dreams Chapter 9, Burn The Boats

Throughout my winding journey in business and in life, the one key to thriving was to not play it safe. Here are the worst and most outdated pieces of advice the next generation should ignore, and what to do instead:

1. “You need a fallback plan.”

A Wharton study found that just thinking about a backup plan can significantly reduce the likelihood of Plan A from happening, along with the motivation to even try. There are only a handful of things you can break in your 20s that you can’t fix in your 30s. The only way you’ll have a shot at being the next Taylor Swift is to believe that you will be, and to not worry about what happens if you fall short. Trust your capacity and agency to figure things out if Plan A doesn’t work.

2. “Cut down your screen time.”

Screens are the future of work. Playing video games for 10 hours straight might not help, but you can learn all sorts of lucrative new skills online.

If you want to start a side hustle, write a business plan, launch a website or market a product or service, the right resources are out there, and often at low or no cost at all.

3. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Partially untrue. While crippling anxiety should be addressed, not all anxiety is problematic. In fact, studies show that the most successful entrepreneurs harness anxiety and make it work for them. They maintain what’s called a state of “optimal anxiety:” the balance between having enough anxiety to catalyze focus and improve performance but not so much as to inhibit excellence.

4. “Go work at a big, stable company.”

It used to be sage advice to start your career at giants like Facebook, Google, Lyft, Netflix and Disney. But even companies that once promised 30-year careers are now facing massive layoffs.

Instead of going with a big name, go for the right role. Ensure that your interests and skills line up with the position you want, even if it’s at a small startup or midsize company.

Even better, use your skills and passion to start a business. It may sound crazy, but with a week of intense focus, you could use artificial intelligence to launch a business earning $10,000 a month. And then you won’t have to worry about layoffs.

5. “Buy a house and settle down.”

Lastly, the most important piece of advice every young person should know: Cash is king.

Save cash and preserve as much liquidity as possible. If it means renting or living at home, that’s fine. The housing market is due for a big correction that may take years to unwind.

And in a high inflationary environment, saving cash is more important than piling on debt. Credit card debt among people between 18 and 25 years old is also at the highest rate compared to any other age demographic, so be more cautious with excessive spending.

LIGHTING THE MATCH

Each week, I’ll be sharing some of the amazing messages I’ve received from fellow Boat Burners who have decided to stop hesitating and go all in on their life’s true purpose. To be featured on Lighting the Match, DM me on Instagram or LinkedIn!

As a former student of Matt’s, I was so excited to hear that he was coming out with a book. He had such a pivotal impact on me as a student at Harvard. But the in class curriculum is only a portion of that impact. Matt is extremely generous and thoughtful with his time, his network and his story. And this book shows exactly that. Burn the Boats is a masterclass in unleashing your potential. Matt does a masterful job of using autobiographical narratives to inspire the reader to take action in their own lives. He transparently shares the obstacles along his journey, while also acknowledging the privileges inherent in it. Burn the Boats is an honest and inspiring take on breaking down barriers and creating your own path. It’s a must read for aspiring entrepreneurs, investors and change makers in any career path!
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