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The Path to Success

/ 3 min read

In America (and many other places, I suppose), it is pretty easy to “get ahead”. Here’s how one does it. Do the following things, in order, and one’s chances of at least modest success go way, way up:

  1. Finish high school.
    1. Go to college if that is reasonable and desired. Finish that.
    2. If college is not desirable, learn a trade at trade school, if desired. Finish that.
  2. Get a job. (If the desired job isn’t available, get any job, and continue to search for the desired job)
  3. Work hard, provide value to one’s employer
  4. Get Married
  5. Have children (if desired)

If one does that in order and avoid making bad decisions such as drug abuse and crime, you will have a very high chance of at least a modestly successful life.

In very general terms, a “successful life” or “getting ahead” is one in which one can take care of one’s self and contribute to society — a life in which one can fulfill one’s responsiblities and be a productive person, creating more than one consumes.

Doing those things out of order don’t necessarily mean you can get ahead, but doing them out of order can greatly reduce your chances.

I don’t say that from a moral viewpoint, I say that from study after study that shows that this is a path to (relative) success. One should, of course, lead one’s life as one sees fit.

Of course, life is hard. Life is unfair. Things happen. But that is true for us all. We all have struggles, and, yes, some more than others.

And if one simply isn’t able to do that “Success Path” for reasons outside one’s control, then society has, in my view, an obligation to help you in any way it can. By the same token, I don’t think it is unreasonable for society to expect one to follow this path as best as one can.

Following this path is to a very large degree in one’s control. Yes, circumstances always come into play, and again, we should help those that need help. But pointing one’s prow in this general direction and endeavoring to follow this path will very, very often lead to a solid life. Straying from this path increases the chances that life will be a lot tougher.

Allow me to clarify a few things that I am not saying:

  • I am not saying that if you don’t follow this path, then you are a failure. That should be obvious, but probably needs to be clarified.
  • I did not say that this path is the only way to success. I am saying that following this path will make sucess more likely than doing these things out of order. For instance, if you try to get married and have kids before finishing high school, that will tend to make it harder to have a “successful life.”
  • I am not at all saying that “getting married leads to success”. That’s obviously not true. What I mean is “Getting married before having children makes it more likely that one will succeed.” I think it is widely agreed that one who has a child out of wedlock (or a committed relationship, if you prefer…) will tend to struggle more. But that’s not merely my opinion, I believe that is backed up by countless studies.