Life is a game – that’s my theory. I know a lot of us dream of winning the Lottery one day, or having a rich uncle die and pass on millions, but I think there are limitations to those fantasies…and I’ll explain later. If you’ve been poor as a child or broke as a young adult, or grew up middleclass, or even upper class but watched your parents work very hard to keep up with the Joneses, you probably dreamed of striking it rich one day. I know I sure did.
When I was a girl, I watched my parents struggle financially. So, I spent a lot of timetrying to figure out how I was going to get rich. Growing up in Los Angeles and visiting Hollywood weekly, I’d dream of becoming a movie star or a famous screenwriter “one day.” In my childhood, I thought a lot about getting rich quick, but I just wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off.
Fast forward to the age of 18, I realized I wasn’t going to get rich overnight. By then, I had been working since I was 13 and had come to realize the true satisfaction of a job well done. Since I didn’t have the same advantages as my peers, I had to set goals and work extra hard to achieve them. Honestly, having things hard challenged me, shaped me, and made me realize that with the right amount of research, education, hard work, and persistence, I could accomplish anything.
For example, when I was 18, I was working at Pier I Imports for minimum wage, 30 hours a week. At the time, I was attending a community college, taking 16 units. Since my $1,500 car that I paid for died on me (probably the third crappy car to die on me), I had to take the bus to school. It was a 20-minute drive by car to the school, but it was a two-hour bus ride each way.
Those days were hard; every penny I earned went to my college classes and books. I remember falling asleep on my books and waking up early to start my day all over again. Somehow though, I managed to get a 4.0 GPA almost the entire time. I really pushed myself during that time period, but I defied the odds. My parents couldn’t pay for my school, so I got a job. My 20-year-old car died, so I took the bus. Even though I could have given up a thousand times, I still pulled a 4.0 GPA with the exception of one semester where I was distracted by a boy and got a B in my History class.
That experience I had in college – I carried it with me throughout my life and I apply the same theories to every situation. At 18, I was majoring in Art and I ended up getting a job at a wonderful fine art school in the Los Angeles Area. I had been taking college-level art classes for two years, but had never had such incredible training like I did at my new job.
The company I worked for taught in the method of the Renaissance and its training was unparalleled in the U.S. Again, I decided to give it 110%. I trained every day, as much as they’d let me and took all of their business courses. I went full-speed until I exhausted all of the training available. By the age of 20, I was their youngest Program Director. As many of my co-workers were lightyears behind me in their training, I realized the importance in dominating an area. I realized that one of the surefire ways to be successful in any field of interest is to fully educate oneself, and to practice practice practice.
If you’re working for someone else, you want to become fully trained, and then you want to give it your all. Be the guy or gal who shows up early, who is willing to stay late when necessary, and who is always looking for ways to be better at something. The goal is to make yourself invaluable.
Find out what your employer needs and deliver more than what is expected of you. When you take pride in your product or service and provide more value than is expected, you are bulletproof. This theory applies in all types of employment and all occupations. Whether you’re working at Starbucks or running your own company, you must strive to be your personal best and to constantly find ways to step up your game.
How do you add more value?
I don’t believe you’ll ever run out of ways to add more value. Regardless of what you do for a living, you can always do more. One of the best ways to add value is to increase your knowledge in an area. If you’re an office worker, enroll in a college class so you can get up-to-date on all the latest computer programs. If you’re a receptionist, take online classes and study for your Bachelor’s, if you’re a server who loves to cook, enroll in a culinary school. If you love to work out, you can become a certified personal trainer – the possibilities are endless.
Why challenge is good for you.
I’m convinced we all go through our own fair share of challenges. I don’t care if you grew up in the projects, in the typical middleclass neighborhood, or in a three-million-dollar home, you’ve probably had your own struggles, even if you’ve been too proud to share them with anybody. I’m the first to admit I’ve said on an occasion or two, “Where’s the easy button?” but at the same time, I’ve come to realize that life is so much more satisfying when we set goals, work our tails off, and accomplish them. I think if everything was easy, we’d get bored really quick. More people would probably turn to drugs because they weren’t getting high on life, much like the trust fund babies who have no challenges so they turn to a life of partying – perhaps they’ve got nothing better to do.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got something to prove. And not so much to everybody else, but to myself. Every day, I take a look at where I came from and what I’ve accomplished over the years. I know I have a lot of work to do, but I embrace it; I embrace the future. As long as I have my health and my mind, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and you know what? So can you.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.
Originally published on LinkedIn.