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Getting Ahead in Life and How to Do it

Updated on March 2, 2011

Getting ahead. It's a catch-phrase that so many know yet so few seem to be able to achieve. What does "Getting Ahead" mean, exactly? More importantly, how can it be achieved? This article will explain what this phrase means, why it is so important to people, and finally, some general ways to achieve it.

By getting ahead, one means the realistic forwarding of one's income. It doesn't mean being rich -merely, being "ahead of the game." This is more realistic than attempting to gain "instant riches," which tends to be little more than a pipe dream. However, it should be noted that by getting ahead, one can potentially build the habits and capital towards gaining riches. An example of getting ahead is such: Henry was living paycheck to paycheck. It frightened him that if he lost his job he wouldn't be able to pay his rent or other bills. So to rectify such a possibility, Henry took on a part-time job on the weekend. This gave him enough extra money that he was able to create a modest "safety net" in his savings account.

By our example we see that should Henry's main job fall through, he will have a greater ability to pay his rent and other bills.

If Henry wanted to further widen his safety net, he could do so by taking a second full-time job, investing in the Stock or Bond Market, or by taking some college courses to raise his knowledge and marketability. Of course, these are only a few of the ways of getting ahead of the rat race, but they illustrate the idea well: getting ahead is having enough money for emergencies or other contingencies that might cause financial discomfort (or even financial ruin).

Yet why should anyone seek such safety? Simply put, while we are quick to accept adversity when we are young adults, the older we become, the more secure we wish to be. Our parents are no longer there to give us money when we get into a fix, and the aches and pains in our bodies seem to hum sorely whenever financial troubles come around. Once we enter our thirties and forties, safety is what we seek moreso with each passing day.

Now for the most important part: how to get ahead. Essentially, this involves working harder or doing extra work for the purpose of having more money -yet this comes in 2 categories: instant money and deferred money.

In the instant money scenario of getting ahead, one simply works more, via another job -that is, working overtime at a present job. This is wonderful in that extra income comes almost immediately. However, the drawback to this is that the extra work must be continually sustained to receive the extra monies it brings into your life.

The second form of getting ahead, deferred money, is a different beast altogether, and for that, a great many people are either unaware of it, consider it a myth, or refuse to put forth their time and energy into it (for whatever reasons). True to its name, the money that you will receive is deferred to a later time. Sometimes a much, much later time (for some, the wait may be as much as a decade).

This is the type of work that usually involves school, particularly formal education in a university system or a trade school. It is the slow accrual of knowledge and experience which will enable a person to offer knowledge and services that society deems not only acceptable, but valuable. For instance, a medical degree. Even those who deem life a mere joke, worthless even, bow to the value of modern medicine. Consider the gang member who doesn't care about life, or the religious fanatic who feels that his or her savior or god will enter the biosphere at any second. In both cases, life is worth little...until that person's mother is involved in a car accident, and is immediately rushed to the Emergency Room of the local hospital. In an instant, the gang member who says he holds nothing sacred, or the religious fanatic who feels that only God can work miracles, bows low to the study and dedication of the doctor before him or her. That is the power of dedication -and that brings deferred money.

Yet there is a second form of deferred money, and even a third. Like the first example, the second 2 also have the potential to help you or anyone else get ahead.

The second means is to invest your money. This is a slow, often ponderous means. It, like its first and third brother, don't always ensure money, though it's an almost rock solid fact that, after investing for 30 years at most, a person will be fairly well ahead of his/her peers, from a financial standpoint. (Of course, investing one's time and money can make no guarantees towards happiness, stability in family and other relations, nor in ethical standards; these are all of extreme importance in the eyes of society, but beyond the peruse of this article.) By investing in bonds, ETF's, mutual funds, real estate, and especially the stock market (not to mention yet other means of capital accrual), one can and generally will get ahead of the pack.

The third and last means of getting ahead, generally speaking, is by way of starting your own business. This is a tricky, monetarily dangerous plan, and yet it can -and historically, has paid off the greatest returns. By beginning a business venture, or even a succession of them, without being daunted by previous failures, one can come out on top as the likes of John D. Rockerfeller, J.P. "Jupiter" Morgan, Henry Ford, and the lesser-known Soichiro Honda (the founder of the Honda Motor Company). Each of these men met with adversity, set-backs, foul attitudes from those around them, and even the tsunami of personal depression (as in the case of J.P. Morgan). Yet each of these folks strove to survive, and then to succeed, often doing so beyond all expectation or imagining from others.

To sum up, getting financially ahead of the pack can be achieved via (at least) 3 basic ways. First, there is having a great job, often after putting in many, many years of education. Second, there is investment, which comes in manifold means. Finally, there is the start of a business, whether small, or even one that blossoms into a multinational corporation. The next step is to begin to put one of these plans into action. The future is yours, if you make it so.


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