A creative and inspirational blog dedicated to busy and burnt out creative entrepreneurs.

The Element Blog

how to know if you're successful

Success is such an interesting concept.

Everyone wants to figure out how to know if you’re successful because we base so much of your self-worth on it but the thing is, it’s kind of inconsequential.

I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about how to know if you’re successful lately and what really defines “success” in the first place.

At 25-years-old, it’s easy for me to think I should be successful by now. I’m in my mid-20s, have a solid job, rent a house with my dog and cat.

Is that being successful?

Or is that simply a step toward getting there?

If you’re like me, which you probably are if you’re reading this, you’re curious about success and are probably stuck with figuring out if you’re successful in life…

Or if you’re simply letting life go by.

I’m here to help with that. While I don’t have all the answers, I think my unique life has set me up to better understand the concept of success, and I’m gonna break it down for you best I can.

Here’s what I’ll cover for how to be successful:

  1. What is success?
  2. The key to success
  3. How successful people think
  4. Success without college
  5. How to be successful
  6. How to maintain success in life


The definition of “successful” is: having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction.

The “having achieved” makes me picture a very significant moment in our lives that’ll somehow make us successful.

But that’s just…not a reality.

Because what this makes us do is compare our own success to some influencer we follow on Instagram or to some standard our parents or grandparents set.

Which is awful because Instagram, or any social media really, is such a fucked up, curated display of someone’s life and just doesn’t show the real shit it took to make that feed what it is.

A lot of people might look at my life from the outside and see it as successful. Especially when you take a look at my past and childhood.

I come from a family of 6 kids (8 in the summers and holidays with step siblings). It was hectic. There was a lot of yelling, not to mention the drinking and other shit that contributed to the trauma.

It wasn’t exactly a …traditional family. I didn’t go to college.

And by those measures, people might look at what I’ve done with my life, created a career for myself, making nearly 6 figures at 25, and say that’s successful.

My own measure? It’s much less relaxed than that.

I couldn’t figure out what success meant to me. But I certainly didn’t feel successful. So I had to do some digging and really sit myself down and figure out what success means to me.

But success is so much more than a singular moment.

In fact, I personally believe success is more about your journey and overall life than it is any single achievement.

A friend of mine wrote an article about how he defines success and it really got me thinking about it for myself. I hadn’t really thought about if I thought my life was successful much until I read his own thoughts on the matter.

Then it got me wondering about how to know if you’re successful. What moment in your life helps you determine if you’ve found success or not?

Instead of digging through the chaos of my brain and trying to divulge the very moments that contributed to my potential success, I decided to think about what success is and how I’d personally define it.

Because at the end of the day, your own definition of success is what matters.

And this is what I came up with for me.

(If you’re following along, comment some of your definitions of success and what you agree/disagree with!)


If you’re here for a “quick” win…aka: a key, there simply isn’t one.

“But Bella! You have a section titled the ‘key’ to success!”

Yeah yeah, I’m aware. And I do have a very important key piece of advice in this regard. Something that’s going to change how you read the rest of this article, and hopefully every other piece of “success” advice…

The key to success is simple…

There is no singular thing you can do, be, or say in order to be successful. It’s not a formula someone can take and replicate in order to magically become successful the next day…


It’s undeniable.

There’s just something about successful people and the way they think that puts them a step above others at times.

What is really on their minds?

We can ask them all we want but the truth is, some successful people don’t even know what makes them unique.

Instead, we’ve got to look at them from afar and determine what those key qualities are. You can watch all the Gary V videos and listen to all his podcasts but the truth is, even Gary V doesn’t really know what makes him tick.

(I personally think Gary V has a complex created as a young child, being an immigrant, trying to fit in. It instills this “winning” mindset and attitude he talks about so much, but we’ll save that psychoanalysis for another time.)

I’ve been following “successful” people for a long time.

Here are a few key qualities I’ve seen in them that I think sets them apart. Understanding these things can help us adopt them and tailor them for ourselves, even.

Again, these aren’t “necessary” in order to be successful, but they sure help a hell of a lot.


I think one of the biggest flaws in the U.S. education system is that we don’t prioritize teaching children how to think for themselves, develop their own opinions, and formulate what you want in life.

School and our childhoods are so deeply built around getting good grades and going to college that most people I talk to have no idea what they want.

How can you work toward being successful if you don’t know what you’re even working toward?

The first thing you have to change is how you think about your life.

What are areas you’re working to improve? What is it do you really want by doing that?

Let’s use working out as an example. Firstly, do you want to work out? Why does doing that make you successful? And what is the result you want out of working out?

Because without knowing those details, you can’t measure your true “success” in the area.

If I want to work out in order to get shredded, my measure of success will be so different than if I just want to exercise to nurture my body.

The former will require a much higher level of commitment, hard work, and alterations to other areas of my life—like my diet, everyday habits, and more.

Whereas simply working out to nurture my body really only requires being active and pushing my body.

So you have to know what you really want and think about that often, as it can evolve overtime—and if you don’t change your habits with it, you’ll wake up and find that you just…don’t feel successful.


This can be hard.

Some people are born with a great support system. Not all of us can be so lucky, and we usually end up with friends who also fall short in this department.

“Friends,” I should say.

But the truth is, a solid support system can completely change you.

In a good way! And I know what you’re probably thinking, “Yeah yeah, Bella. Cut out the toxic people, we know.”

But it’s not just that. The little stat about you being the sum of the people ou spend the most time with is so true. I’ve experienced it, and here’s how it changed me…

I joined Self-Publishing School for work in June 2018, working part time to start, full-time come the following January 2019.

I really wanted this job. I really really wanted it. I worked my ass of on those interviews and made sure to stand out. And I got a job!

I really didn’t know what I was in for.

The team at Self-Publishing School is comprised of high achievers, positivity, and people focused on bettering the world and themselves. As you can imagine, working with those people and in that environment 5 days of the week really changes you.

There’s never been a time where I was so happy and fulfilled and working toward bettering my life, even more.

Since joining that job, I ended a relationship that was long overdue for it, lived 6 months in Florida (from Wisconsin!), moved to Colorado (where I am now!), have made more progress toward bettering my life from a mental and physical standpoint than ever before.

And it’s because of the support and environment I’ve been in.

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch all your friends and revamp your support system. It could be great already. Maybe all you need is to have a conversation with a close friend or family member about being there for you more.

But sometimes, you do have to make a major, painful change.

It’s worth it.


This is probably the hardest part of success—and really happiness—in life.

We’ve been so hardwired to care what people think that when the time comes to actually be yourself and go after what you want, we’re plagued with thoughts about what everyone else will think about it and us.

Even as I’m writing this, I’m insecure about building my social following because I don’t want people to think I’m trying to be an “influencer” on Instagram or any of that.

But the thing is…

Why shouldn’t that be the goal? That’s what I want, right? To influence people in a positive way. And that means growing my following.

So why does what other people think even matter?

In short, it doesn’t.

Humans are designed to care about what people think. We’re pack animals. We want to fit in and have a place and therefore, we have to think about other people.

At least we used to have to be this way.

That was thousands of years ago when we were evolving and needed to stick in a pack to survive.

But times have changed and now, more than ever, caring about what other people think of your goals and aspirations is toxic…and killing your chances of success (but really, of happiness as a whole).

Successful people? They don’t give a shit about what people think…

At least not what people they don’t know or care about think. Because let’s be real, what your family and close friends think is important to a point.

But the fact is: you have to ignore what other people think and focus on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remembering your why will always point you to the right move, regardless of what other people think.


Speaking of whys! This is so so so important!

What is the reason you’re doing what you’re doing?

And I mean the real reason, the one that matters. Because honestly, I could say that I started this blog to make some extra income. Which isn’t untrue…but the real reason I do this is…

I didn’t have this type of guidance when I was younger, and I worked really hard to figure a lot of this stuff out by myself.

I just wanted this to be a place other people can learn and grow from, a place where they can get the guidance I never had in order to change their life for the better sooner.

And if I’m being really honest…I want my little sisters to change their lives from this.

If you live with constant reminders of your why, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to keep going, even when times get tough.

I personally have my whys printed and framed next to my desk, so I can’t really forget on a day to day basis.


Not to be the best.

This is the difference. Some people try to be the best and this usually results in a short period of a ton of success, followed by unhappiness and self-loathing.

Because they’re constantly comparing themselves to whoever they see as “the best” currently.

And that’s no way to live.

So I challenge you to adopt the mentality of truly successful people and focus on being better, not to be the best.

And the only person you should be comparing yourself to is…


I do want to caution that doing this too much can form unhealthy mindset related to your own self-confidence.

But the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the you from yesterday.

This is also a great way to stop caring about what other people think because you’re not thinking about them. You’re thinking about you.

How can you be better today than you were yesterday?

What is a goal today to help you reach that?

Where do you want to be in 3 years, 5, 10, and more? And how can you work to be better than you were before in order to get there?

These questions can seem simple, and I know you already know that you should only compare yourself to who you were yesterday, but it’s often harder than we think.

Even as I write this, I’m thinking of all the other sites and people trying to do what I am here, and it makes me feel kind of shitty.

They already have an established audience, website authority, and even products.

But the truth is…none of them is me. None of them have my experience to draw from in order to help or to write. And that’s what I focus on.

How can I use my past in order to help and better my future?

That’s what you should focus on as well, if you want to be successful in life, that is.


So…I don’t have all the answers. I’ll make that plan and simple right now.

But I did go from a traumatic childhood to a happy, healthy, and successful life by my measures.

It wasn’t easy, but I’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years as I’ve grown into who I am and what I want in life.

And I’m sharing those things with you now.

Here’s how to be successful…


I was always the kid who would sit around thinking about the meaning and purpose of life.

Why are we even here? What are we supposed to be doing?

These questions used to bother me into depression. I never had the answers and the more I thought about it, the more confusing it all became.

But then I had sort of a…revelation of sorts. While high on marijuana, of course. Because that shit is so useful for open-mindedness and conceptual thinking.

What I realized is that it’s your job to discover why you’re here.

There is no answer unless you create what. Which means life is really up to you and what you want. Your “success” in life is dependent on what you define your life to be.

Which means you have to think of a purpose. What is your reason for being and living this life of yours?

For me, it’s to help people. Which sounds broad, because it is. I enjoy helping people in really any way, and doing so makes me happy and feel successful.

But as I write this, my definition has expanded to helping people who have suffered as a child or have been held back by their childhood.

That to me means everything.

What is it for you?

I know this is a huge question, and you likely won’t have the answer in a split second, but you’ll get there.

Here are some questions to discover what that means for you:

  • When do you feel most fulfilled?
  • What setting or environment often offers you peace?
  • What’s something you wish people remember about you when you’re gone?
  • If you could leave your children or family members with one lesson learned by you, what would it be?
  • What comes to mind when you think of a moment that made you proud of yourself?

Take the time to write those answers down and you’ll likely discover there’s a pattern to them. This is likely your purpose.

And that purpose can become more clear and “sharper” as you discover and develop it.


I’m used to be probably one of the worst people with this.

It used to be so hard for me to forget yesterday and start today like it’s brand new. But you need to.

But if you want to be successful in life, you have to start letting go of past grievances, embarrassment, an anxieties that follow you around.

Because whatever happened before shouldn’t dictate today.

It’s easier said than done, but what’s helpful for me is just writing the shit down at night. I have a journal that I just write stream-of-conscious style before bed.

It allows me to get out frustrations and anxieties quickly and in a way that shows me how silly they can be sometimes.

This isn’t to say your concerns and worries aren’t valid, but it’s to say that sometimes, our own perspective can be toxic and by writing it down, you can get a new view of a situation.

That can allow you to let it go and start fresh the next day.


As I mentioned above, knowing what you want is so important in order to know if you’re successful in life.

Otherwise, it’s like trying to measure something without any scale.

Imagine if someone told you to define their success in life. What would you need to know?

You’d need to know what they want, why, and what their measure for that success is. Without that information, you’re simply judging based off of your definition and that doesn’t work for other people.

So know what you want in life. Just remember that this is evolving, which means it’s a conversation you have to have with yourself often.

Check in with your desires. What is it that you want out of life and is that lining up with your current actions?

And most importantly, why is this what you want? What area does it fulfill and how is this shaping the life you want to live?

These are important questions, but remember they’re not something you need to answer right this second, but rather, you should continuously be defining them.


Goals are crucial for not only a happy and successful life, but for a healthy mindset as well.

I never used to have goals. Really. It’s just something that I wasn’t really taught or held accountable for when I was young. Therefore, I had no idea how to set good ones and how to actually work to achieve them.

Since joining Self-Publishing School as a job, I’ve been groomed to do this and do it well.

I’ll write a blog post on this (and film a video!), but here are the bullet points for how to make a plan and set goals you can and will stick to:

  • Define your “why” and have it visible
  • Write your goals down
  • Work backward from your desired result to a monthly, weekly, and daily action-item to make it happen
  • Set a deadline for yourself
  • Review your goals daily
  • Have someone who can help keep you accountable (accountabilibuddy!)
  • Find a system that works for you
  • Read Atomic Habits
[planner affiliate images/resources]


If we don’t act, life passes us by. The thing is, the time will go by whether you’re doing nothing or working toward your goals and aspirations.

It’s up to you to decide how far along you’ll be as time goes.

But the point is that you can’t just sit here and read this and then do nothing…and continue to complain about the success (or lack thereof) in your life.

You actually have to do something from here.

I’m aware that whenever I say “write this down,” you’re not likely to do it. But even saying that phrase will force you to picture it, and sometimes that can be effective, but not nearly as.

The point is that if you want to make a change, if you really want to get your shit together, you have to do something today. Not tomorrow. Not Monday. Not at the turn of the new year.


Start now, and you’ll already be another step closer.


One of the best things to keep you moving when things get hard is to keep track of the progress you’ve made.

There’s a reason people tell you to snap before and after shots when you’re trying to lose weight or get more fit. It’s so you can refer back to them and compare your progress.

Progress is what keeps you going.

Think about how hard it is to keep doing anything if you can’t see the real results of your efforts. It feels pointless, right? Because you can’t see the impact you’re having.

By keeping track of your goals and their progress, you’ll be re-motivated to keep going whenever you look back at it. And this can do a lot for you over time.

Think about this:

If every time you wanted to stop you picked up your progress tracker and kept going…what would that look like?

How much more would you get done and how much more successful would you be in your endeavors?

Trust me…you’ll be a lot more successful.

I personally do this with my Full Focus Planner and habit tracking sheet I got on Amazon. It’s super simple, is visible daily, and you can visually see the progress stacking up as you go.

I also recommend getting or printing a year-view of your habit tracker so you can see month-by-month progress as well.

Here are a few favorites that can help with this:

[planner/goal tracker affiliates]


Rewards for progress are the best.

For me, when I hit my gym days per month goal, I get to order some AlaniNu energy drinks (which are THE BEST).

But that’s just one example.

The point is to make working toward your goals and success fun! It doesn’t have to be this arduous journey filled with nothing but hard work.

Work hard, play hard, right?


So choose milestones and rewards for reaching them. These can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, even for the whole year. Whatever works for you.

I actually like the fact that the planner I use (the Full Focus Planner), has areas for rewards so you can actually figure those out ahead of time. Which means you’ll be more excited to work toward them.

If your why doesn’t keep you going, rewarding yourself just might! Plus, you deserve good shit for working toward a life you really want. That’s impressive and something you should be proud of.


“Success” is such a bad word.

It’s arbitrary, really. There shouldn’t be a singular definition for it because it changes depending on who you are and what you seek in life.

Instead of asking yourself if you’re successful, start replacing that word with “happy.”

Are you happy in life? Are you happy in your job? Are you happy with your finances?

That word is far more important and impacts your life so much more than “success” does. So next time you find yourself questioning your own success, flip that question and put the word “happy” in its place.

This will give you a true measure of your life.

Once you know the answer to that question, you can start to work on the areas of your life that don’t get a “yes.”

Which begs the question, which areas of your life are you happy in and what areas are you not?

Comment them down below and let’s figure out how we can get you there.

How to be Successful & Know When You’ve Made it

do you have to go to college

I never intended to go to college.

Mostly because what I wanted most was to be an actress—even until I was in my last year of high school.

Despite the fact that I had no experience in the field, not even school plays (eesh!). But what I did have was the certainty that I never wanted to go to college. I just couldn’t afford dumping thousands and thousands of dollars into school when I had no idea what I would go for.

So while I used the excuse that I wanted to be an actress and therefore, didn’t need college, the truth was that I just didn’t want to waste the money.

I didn’t have the money to spend. Sure, financial aid was an option but even that system is fucked up (my parents had zero ability or intention of helping me pay…so why the hell would I could their income..?).

And that was smart on my part. Seeing as in many people I know are paying between $400-$700 per month just to pay off student loans…(while most aren’t even using their degrees!! WHAT).


No. Fucking. Thanks.

You with me?

Are you debating this for yourself, unsure if you want to go to college or go back to school?

Not sure if you even need to go to school but just don’t know what other options you have?

I’ve been there. I had to battle teachers and family members who simply didn’t agree with me that college wasn’t necessary (for me, that is).

And they were all wrong. I’m making close to 6 figures as a 25 year old with no student loan debt.


^ immature? Maybe. But it’s true and I’m eternally grateful I didn’t allow myself to listen to everyone else’s limiting beliefs and pushes to go to college.

And you shouldn’t listen to them either. Not if you think there are other options out there for you—and there are! I’ll even cover them below.

But first you’ve got to understand the information before you can make a sound decision for yourself.

I did research before saying no to college. I made pros and cons lists and I want to share some of that with you.

Because I’m not here to tell you to skip college. I think your parents might hunt me down and murder me if that were the case.

I’m just here to share the right information with you, and my experience as to how I was able to forgo college and still bring home nearly 6 figures at 25-years-old.

Do you need to go to college?

Unless you want to be a doctor or lawyer or something else that requires extensive specialized knowledge, the answer is likely “no”.

Now, this is my perspective, coming from someone whose family was broke as hell, I had no savings when I graduated high school (which is a problem for another blog post), and I had no idea what I would’ve even gone to school for.

For that reason, I didn’t go, much to the disappointment of opinionated family members.

But the thing is, and what frustrates me the most, is that college seems to be the “only” option after high school in order to get a good job.

I even had homework assignments that were related to applying for college. And when I refused to do them on the basis that I wasn’t gonna fucking go to college, I didn’t get any points for those.

A bit of a tangent but the answer to the question of do you need to go to college is a big fat, drawn out “no”.

You don’t need it.

The fact of the matter is that when you go into the work force right after high school, no matter what you’re trying to do, you’ll have 4 years of experience when your peers graduate.

The way the current work field is moving, that experience (if valuable) will put you in a position higher above those with a degree.

Now, this won’t be the case everywhere, but if you’re on the line and are interested in a certain field, it’s worth at least entertaining the idea that a college might not be necessary at all.

Is it worth it to go to college?

There are people who can easily go to college without a clue about what they want to do because money isn’t an issue.

I wasn’t one of them.

My parents didn’t have a college fund for any of us. Hell! There are 6 kids (8 counting the step siblings)…

So college funds? Are you kidding? We could barely afford extracurricular activities for us, let alone thousands and thousands of dollars for college.

Which meant I’d need to take out a bunch of loans.

Why didn’t you apply for scholarships then, Bella?

Alright ya fuck, here’s why: Many scholarships are only awarded to people who have done extracurriculars, had time for them, or had stellar grades.

And while I did graduate with a 3.7 cumulative GPA, I didn’t have any of the others.

I worked. I had to work. At one point in high school, I had 3 jobs just so I could afford car insurance, and gas to drive places, and to purchase my own face wash and shampoo because I needed to pay for those things myself.

And the system for scholarships? They don’t really ask you about that stuff. Many don’t take into account the fact that kids have to sometimes help support their family.

And those are the people who need the money the most!

So for me, college wasn’t worth it financially. I just couldn’t stomach how much it would cost for 4 years, and how long it would take me to pay it all off.

But that’s also because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do.

Bottom line: if college doesn’t make sense financially and you don’t want a career in a field where it is required, then it’s likely not worth it.

But this is something you have to decide for yourself. Because I’m not going to tell you it’s not worth it, because it is for some people.

It just wasn’t for me and the situation I was in.

Do you really need a college degree?

I laugh at this question.

Because most of the time, people don’t end up using their college degree for the job they get. The degree simply “gets them in the door.”

Which, again, is a load of bullshit. It’s like paying $80,000 just to get an interview, essentially, when you can get an interview in other ways.

Trust me, I have.

In fact, Washington Post reports that only 27% of college graduates have a job related to their major and degree.

Laugh with me!! That’s insane! Comment below if you had no idea the number was this fucking low.

Only 27% of people who pay thousands of dollars to go to college end up using it.

Once upon a time, 10-20+ years ago, college degrees held a lot more weight. They still do to this day, but this is reducing significantly as business owners and recruiters are realizing a degree doesn’t mean someone can perform well in their role.

When I was working in human resources, I did a bit of recruiting. And was told that if someone didn’t have a degree, to skip over their resume.

Um…what? Even if they had more experience than someone with the degree?

Yup. It was on the basis that those people were more “responsible” and “capable” because they had done something difficult: college.

It took so much willpower not to lay out my own life experience, struggles, and childhood hardships to prove that college doesn’t have jack shit to do with capability.

But instead, I ended up vouching for and hiring people without degrees, who were more qualified.

So, do you really need a college degree?

The answer is usually: no. You don’t “need” one unless you’re in a field requiring it (sciences, lawyer, doctor, that stuff).

What are alternative to college?

Here’s the stuff you’re probably really after. If you don’t go to college, what are the options?

Obviously you know there are tons of jobs not requiring a degree, but most you’re thinking about probably aren’t lucrative, they probably don’t pay much.

And that’s fair. But it’s simply because you just don’t know what’s out there. Because I had no idea, either.

So here are some alternatives to college and how you can go about landing yourself a great job in these fields.

1. Freelancing

I was a freelance writer for about 3 years before I was found by Self-Publishing School’s CEO through a blog post I wrote during that time.

But writing isn’t the only freelancing job you can get.

Here are a few freelancing careers to think about:

  • Writing (blog posts, articles, website copy)
  • Web Designer
  • Photographer
  • Social Media Manager
  • Teaching/Tutoring
  • Graphic Designer
  • App Developer
  • SEO Specialist
  • Branding / Public Relations
  • Translator
  • Book Editor
  • Web Researcher
  • Customer Service Rep
  • Audio or Video Production
  • Data Entry

All of these options can be self-taught through Google, Youtube Videos, or online courses.

Even if the courses cost money, they’re usually very minimal in comparison to college.

How to get started in freelancing

If this is interesting to you, there are a few steps you can take to get started on this today.

  1. Decide on a field
  2. Create profiles on freelancing sites
  3. Educate yourself on the field
  4. Seek help from those experienced
  5. Start building your portfolio
  6. Cold pitch for clients!

I’ll write a post about the steps above in greater detail, because there’s sooooo much to know!

2. Entrepreneur

I know. You probably just rolled your eyes. I get it lol.

Business owner? Building your own business? Come on, Bella. That’s too hard.

But is it really? In this day and age? With all the access we have to build one starting literally today?

“But aren’t entrepreneurs usually from rich families?”

No. In fact, many of the most successful people had hard childhoods. They struggled. They didn’t have anything when they started and yet, they made it happen (many WITHOUT college degrees!)

[need examples]

3. Learning from courses/the internet

I have a job in content marketing. Do I have a marketing degree? Nah.

Nor do I think I could have sat through all the classes necessary to get it. SNORE.

Instead, I often joke that I got a degree “from Google.” And that’s because I really learned the bulk of what I know from Googling shit, watching Youtube videos, and free online courses.

It wasn’t until I got the marketing job I have now that I started learning from paid courses (paid for by the company!).

Today, there are experts all over the place sharing their experience and knowledge online. And the best part?

They’re cheaper than college. Always.

The thing I love most about online courses is that they’re not textbooks. You’re not getting the information that’s outdated and old and might not work anymore.

Instead, you’re getting information from people who have had real experience in the field and can inform you with the how, but also with the stuff to avoid and mistakes to steer clear of.

4. Trade school

Most people roll their eyes at the term, and you’re likely already aware that the trades desperately need workers.

Just realize: your reaction to this is conditioned by society.

You roll your eyes or turn your nose up at “trades” simply because we’ve been taught to see these jobs as “less than.”

And that’s fucking bullshit. Take yourself down a notch, you’re not better than any of these jobs, especially since you’re not even sure what you want to do with your life.

That’s not me trying to be mean. That’s me trying to help you understand just how much society has fucked you up in the head regarding post high school options.

So, to convince you (and your parents, let’s be real) further, I’ll bring some facts into this!

Did you know that if you go to trade school to be an electrician, it usually only takes about 9 months (instead of 4+ years!), and your starting salary into the field is an average of $54,110 (in 2017, so probably more now depending on where you’re located!).

So, at 19 years old if you pursue this right out of high school, you could be making a really comfortable living, with no student loans.

Too good for trade school now?

There are so many professions in this “trade school” field.

Here are a few of the highest paying (since money is a thing we need to think about in this day and age):

  • Construction Manager – $49.57 average hourly
  • Aircraft Mechanic – $31.36 average hourly
  • Plumber – $27.96 average hourly
  • Electrician – $28.46 average hourly
  • Wind Turbine Technician – $27.88 average hourly
  • Commercial Driver – $28.59 average hourly
  • Computer Network Architect – $53.43 average hourly
  • Applications Software Developer – $51.96 average hourly
  • Computer Programmer – $43.07 average hourly

There are so many options when it comes to trade schools that will allow you to make a very comfortable living with minimal continued education at a much more affordable price point.

You can read more about those jobs and more here.

5. Apprenticeships

In my opinion, these aren’t nearly as popular as they should be.

What better way to learn the necessary skills than to immerse yourself in the field? That’s the best way to learn a language, right?

So why doesn’t this apply to careers?

There are apprenticeship programs all over the place where you can work alongside someone who’s doing the job you hope to do.

This is also a great way to find out if a field is best for you.

While harder to find and usually more difficult to get into, you can learn more in 4 years as an apprentice than you can going to college.

I personally think this is the way our education and job system needs to move in order to meet our increasing needs as society. And while it may take a while to get there, the more people opting for this option, the better.

When you’re an apprentice, you’re following alongside and helping someone who’s in a position you hope to be in one day.

You’re observing what they do, how they operate, and taking in so much more than you would in a classroom.

Do your research! Or simply ask! Most apprenticeships will start out at about $15 per hour and increase as your skills do.


How to talk to your family about not going to college

I’ll be honest with you: there were only a couple family members against the fact that I didn’t want to go to college.

I was so fortunate that my mom and dad didn’t really put up a fuss. Firstly, my mom never went, so she didn’t have much of a say.

Secondly, my dad isn’t all for college in the first place, so that was helpful.

But I did have other family members push me, challenging me and were even kind of assholes about the matter.

And that’s what I imagine most people’s parents or direct guardians are like.

So here’s some of my advice about how to talk to your family if they’re pretty strict about wanting you to go to college.

1. It’s your life

It’s hard for parents to let go and admit their children have their own lives.

They’ve spent that past 18+ years taking care of you, guiding you, and it’s hard to turn the switch off and see you as your own person.

But if you sit them down and just say, “Hey, this is my life. You’ve done your job and have prepared me to make good life choices and this is my choice,” it’ll be hard for them to argue.

Now, they likely still will. Because you can’t just flip a switch and make them see you as having your own life.

They’re invested and want to remain so.

But sometimes you just have to tell them that your happiness is different from what they think it is, and let it go.

2. Tell them your alternative plan

Your parents are worried about you, okay? They just want what’s best.

And in their experience, from when they grew up, college is the best option. But that’s just not the case anymore. The stats are against them.

But they still want to make sure you have shit figured out.

So after explaining that you’re not going to college, give them you why, and then tell them what you plan to do instead.

Usually, if you have a solid plan and can back it up with stats that make sense, their arguments are rendered pointless.

Now, a lot of parents use their children as an ego boost. Which is unhealthy as fuck, but that’s how it is sometimes.

Which means they might continue to argue just so they can say their child is a college graduate. They want to wear that badge of honor. So if you think your parents/guardians are like this…

Literally just call them out on it. Ask them why they’re pushing their own egos onto you and explain that that weight isn’t yours to carry.

But really, you just have to tell them your plan instead of college, and give them the confidence that you’ll be just fine.

3. You deserve their respect

I think this one gets to parents more so than others. If you bring up the fact that they’re disrespecting their own child, it might help them see their flaws.

It’s funny to me how many parents/guardians blatantly disrespect their children.

And they don’t even see it that way, which is even more fucked up.

You deserve respect and just because you’re their child doesn’t mean they don’t owe you that. Remind them that by trying to control your life and choices, they’re only disrespecting you and making you feel as if you can’t share your life with them.

That last bit might scare them enough into accepting your choices, even if they don’t agree with them.

4. Give them the facts

College is dying. It’s ridiculously expensive. It will take years to pay off student loan debt, resulting in a lower quality of life for you.

The fact that you have so much debt will increase the stress in your life. Do your parents really want you to spend years being stressed and worried about paying loans?

Not to mention that you’ll have to (probably) have a home of worse condition, a car that might not be that great, and you won’t have the freedom necessary to enjoy life.

Just hit them with that 27% statistic—that only that amount of people even use their degree.

And then ask them if they would suggest you sign away $60,000+ for something you’re not even sure of.

Their answer might surprise you.


Ultimately, it’s your choice to go to college or not. If you have no idea what to do, then college might not be the best choice right now.

But make sure you have a plan. Create a life that will allow you to live happily, healthily, and successfully even if college isn’t on the docket. Because you owe that to yourself, if nothing else.

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Do you have to go to college? 5+ Alternative Options