As a contrarian who went from babysitter's daughter to millionaire by 30, I achieved it by avoiding as MUCH conventional advice as I could in each circumstance.
Of course, I couldn't dodge every bullet, so here is some of the best worst advice that people commonly give:
1. Pursue a stable job.
Assuming you grew up in a stable home with career-oriented or somewhat decently successful parents, for those of us in the middle class and above, your parents are likely to make life all about finding this mystery stable job. As to if stability is even guaranteed in our rapidly changing world is even possible or not, they pay no mind. Society wants you to strive for safety.
Instead of encouraging children to leverage their natural strengths and inclinations, the process of brainwashing people to abide by strictly dictated behaviors for "guaranteed" success and stability is foisted upon every generation.
2. In order to obtain said stable job, you must attend college, most likely pursuing a "worthwhile" degree which largely is related to a technical field.
The moment I was born, my family pegged me for Harvard. We moved countries, cities, and states to get closer to Harvard. Like many other immigrants, my parents' biggest dream was for me to become a lawyer or doctor so that I'd finally be "set for life."
Through pain, suffering, and a terrible relationship with my family throughout my childhood and adolescence, I emerged scarred, miserable, and totally unhappy with my life because my parents' overly aggressive obsession with academic success and overbearing treatment that suffocated me.
Due to my parents and society breeding the fear of failure into me, I didn't have the courage to do what I really wanted to do (music school and sing). I take full responsibility for my lack of courage in my adolescence. Instead, I decided to take the safe route of business school. I chose Finance as my major, a subject I had no interest in beyond the fact that it "pays well."
3. Not only do most people commit to exorbitant undergrad college debt, many people double and triple down to continue accumulating degrees*.
*Unless you're 100 percent committed to a career that mandates through the authorities and government that you NEED the degree to work in that industry (i.e. MD, JD, RN), you should really think twice about delaying your entry into the workforce.
I was lucky my parents had the wherewithal to help pay for college, which thankfully wasn't much due to the significant amount of grants and scholarships I had. Before I could even take a breath after graduation, my mom was right on that horse again, pressuring me to attend law school.
I flatly refused. I spent my entire college education experimenting with entrepreneurial ventures with little care or interest for academia. Despite how little I studied, I did relatively well, which only proved to me the lack of value college systems provide, especially for people like myself who know how to generate revenue without needing a 9-5.
The only things I enjoyed about college was the freedom away from my family and more importantly, the exposure to meeting rich peoples' children. Since I was at a private business school, I met international rich kids who drove fancy cars and had nice things. I didn't want to wait, I wanted those riches for myself.
In college, I was a budding entrepreneur already. Being surrounded by riches made me hungry for money. I worked hard at my internships, hospitality jobs and straight hustling, becoming a powerseller on eBay, trading stocks, learning all types of sales jobs. I knew that I no longer needed any more school. I was ready for the real world.
4. Upon graduating, you'll be encouraged by your school, family, and society to work (and stay) in a specific field with no change in plan.
I hated my corporate internships! I couldn't imagine committing to the future my internships showed was possible in boring 9-5 environments on a fixed salary I considered too low. Unlike the realities of many of my working-class classmates, I was lucky that I had 1 year after school to figure out what I wanted to do.
My family abandoned our family business (Chinese restaurant) due to poor planning and decision-making. I was stuck with the responsibility to keep our entire business and home afloat. During this year of free labor in a show of filial piety, I read a lot of books trying to find my path in life.
The answer came to me: enter a job/career that would allow young people to make money in order to escape the dreaded future of decades of slaving away for "the man" or forever having to please my parents.
Against my parents' wishes, I entered the career of headhunting and agency recruitment which is a sales job. At 23, I moved to NYC on a base salary of $35k in 2011 to start my new life in a shared apartment with random strangers I braved a winter storm to secure. From here on out, I will be the master of my own destiny.
5. As many people enter the workforce, their priority is to strive for work-life balance and are terrified of burning out.
Of course working very hard at a job you hate will very quickly lead to burnout, however I LOVED (still love) recruiting. Immediately, I worked my butt off and was recognized, becoming top biller my entire career and obtaining many career opportunities for advancement.
Instead of prioritizing dating, socializing, or the -life half of the "work-life balance" myth, I focused my life around my work. I overweighted on the work half instead and it paid off handsomely. In the process, I became a widely recognized leader and expert in my career of headhunting on a global and national level, earning over $215k by the time I was 25. This eventually allowed me to open my own recruiting firm, DG Recruit, in 2018.
When you prioritize work and career success as your "one" thing, you actually experience higher long-term happiness rather than short-term instant gratification.
6. At a certain age, you must settle down*.
*This especially penalizes women.
As a financially and professionally successful woman, I don't actually need a man. However, due to heavy parental and societal pressure as evidenced by social media, I felt like I wasn't living up to my full potential by being single. I lived my whole life living off of the assumption that I would magically end up happily married with kids by 30, as that's when your biological clock starts malfunctioning (more on this later).
As I got older, I kept trying to "beat the buzzer" by dating, often settling with people just for the sake of moving the needle closer to marriage. With whom or for what purpose was not the point; I just wanted to win.
I wanted to prove to others that I was wanted and I was valuable. Wouldn't I need a man to prove that? Thankfully, due to my financial independence and A-type personality, I just really couldn't tolerate people unfit for my needs past a certain time frame. Even now, I'm still single at 30, proving to myself that my childhood assumptions need to be questioned and perhaps guided me wrong.
Don't feel like you HAVE to find someone or that you're undesirable if you don't have someone willing to live in your home of the opposite sex. I've seen my parents have a horrific marriage through my entire life, thus I know the fundamental truth that it's actually better being single than with someone unfit. This further means, if you're LGBTQ, don't suppress it -- have the courage to live your life.
7. Get a primary residence; stop wasting money on rent and buy*.
*This especially penalizes those who live in high-cost real estate markets where the rental value of a home is much lower than the monthly all-in costs to buy the same property, a phenomenon especially troublesome in A-tier cities and rapidly-scaling B-tier cities.
Wow. There is no financial/investing advice as horrible and uneducated as this! For those who by default take their salaries, go to a bank, get approved for a loan and pick the first house close enough to work within their pre-approved amount, they're committing blindly to a financial investment that could potentially lead to a lot of long-term misery.
I could write a book about all the emotional, financial, and career-wise issues primary housing presents (i.e. you can't relocate for better opportunities and you're stuck or worse yet you lose your job and you foreclose). As a headhunter, I see how housing constrains career and financial development. People win the battle but lose the war.
Long story short, most people treat real estate like the same issue with college: they don't think, they just go for it. What ends up happening is the inevitable boom and bust that benefits investors like myself who actually know what we're doing and understand real estate valuation.
In certain countries like China for instance, children expect their parents to buy them primary residences or it's hard for them to find spouses. They're living mainstream upon mainstream, just following others' example with no rhyme or real reason, to everyone's combined misery.
8. Save and you'll be rich.
I became a millionaire by 30, largely through investing and earning - NOT saving. I only save enough so that I can invest the majority of my cash into REAL assets that are inflation-protected like residential real estate (my main poison), stocks, crypto, etc. To save, people write books, do shady things, and think along the lines of someone who will perpetually be actually poor.
Investing is the real activity that will take you out of the middle class. You'll never get there if you hoard cash under your mattress or in your bank account (same thing). If you rely on your 401(k), then you'll be relying on those systems and the "value of compound interest" when the stock market has been anything but guaranteed to be steady.
Yes it does go up over time, but how many 90 year olds do you know who are rich off of 401(k)s? Pensions are irrelevant for those of us not related to governments or traditional blue-chip companies, thus what do we have left? Using investments to carry us through of course!
This is where you have to pick your own poison. I realized early in the game when I started trading stocks at age 19 that I was NOT good at it and I HATED the daily fluctuations. Since my mom made some good money investing in real estate abroad and in the US, I studied real estate valuation on the weekends and bought my own properties since I was 25 up and down the US east coast.
9. Have your own children because (1) it's your duty to your parents (2) you "should" (3) everyone else is doing it (4) what else is there to do after marriage? (5) abortion is bad for religious reasons (6) you're not a true man/woman/adult until you have your own biological progeny.
This is arrogant in thinking that (1) everyone is physically capable of reproducing (2) those who can't are somehow less valuable members of society and/or (3) those who can't or don't want to aren't ever going to be fulfilled -- they're forever destined to be never "really experiencing life."
In reality, pregnancy oftentimes is the ultimate jail sentence for many women (and men), especially those who accidentally conceived, were raped, were taken advantage of, or have aspirations to be more than just parents.
Then society guilt-trips you or legally forces you to have a child you weren't ready for mentally, physically, professionally, and financially. Ultimately, you're robbed of the future you actually wanted for yourself, which may make you resent your life, society, and your family.
While I'm certainly not advocating for everyone to reject mother/fatherhood, I'm simply posing a simple question: do you truly want a child or are you doing it for reasons outside of your will or serious consideration?
The process of insemination takes sometimes one minute, but the after-effects of such a big decision lasts literally entire lifetimes, those of you, your spouse if you have one, your extended family, and your child(ren). Have you seriously given it the thought you need to to be a responsible and effective parent despite the astronomical increase in costs of maintaining a family's wellbeing?
Especially in the U.S. where the current administration is against female reproductive rights, women are pressured to keep their baby instead of abortion. Yet, time and time again, those same people bemoan the single-moms and the "breakdown" of the family unit.
The sadder thing is that, instead of adopting children locally and around the world who are abused, neglected, and desperate for love, people pay tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for surrogates, in-vitro whichamacallit and fertility treatments just for the sake of nothing else other their genetic ego.
Not to mention, there are countless women and children who suffer domestic violence and a lifelong of misery due to unhealthy home environments; they are shackled by their reality of deciding to create a 18-year-long tether to an undesirable situation/spouse.
I am still daily pressured by strangers, family, and friends to make sure I keep my mind open about having biological progeny when nothing about the pregnancy process makes me excited. As a businesswoman, I'm focusing my "maternal" instincts on growing my business as my priority right now. Never say never, but I won't bust out a baby to beat the clock or to force it. I can always always adopt.
If you're still reading, I'm grateful that you gave my thoughts some thought. I suffered immensely and still suffer daily with these subject matters because most people think very differently than me and constantly want to subjugate me to their will (ahem, mom and dad, I love you).
No matter how old we are, whether we're 15 or 55, we need to constantly question why things are they way they are:
Why do governments want civilians to reproduce more? Is it moral or is it because they want to earn votes and reap taxes off of our income and prop up the future need for housing? Also get access to labor forces that increase GDP and can fight wars for them?
Why do companies want people to reproduce (consumerism and real estate industries) and fall in love (holidays, movies, retail/fashion, dating, plastic surgery, luxury goods, gym services, and makeup products)?
Why do your parents want you to go to college? Because they too are blinded by generations of indoctrination by companies (yay, free educated employees and exclusion of those born to non-college households) and schools who profit off of education.
If you can see the hidden objectives behind every traditional piece of advice, then perhaps, you can create a life of your own that makes you intrinsically and organically happier than what could have been.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: