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I CAN BE ANYTHING I WANT TO BE: The problem with conventional systems and the positive shift in your mindset.

Imagine this: You’ve graduated from university, started working at your dream job, and are earning a decent salary. You studied a topic that was not finance-related in school and now the people around you are playing the stock market, buying property, and starting “side or main hustles”. You thought your role was to go to school, get a degree and you’d be set for life, but inflation is rising faster than your salary and it isn’t enough to cover the bills. To top it off, OSAP comes knocking at your door asking for loan payments and you find yourself struggling. 

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Photo by Elisa Ventur

Here’s a harsh reality: School does not set us up with the financial literacy we need to navigate life. 

While our education system may benefit us in setting us up with a future career that allows us to financially support ourselves, it limits our knowledge to the specialties we choose to study. 

There’s rigidity in the structure of our education system which limits us from learning more day-to-day life skills and we are told to pick a career path as early as the age of 14. 

Moving into university, our course options become more and more limited, leaving less room to explore other topics which may enable us to develop financial literacy. Not to mention, many finance courses are restricted to students within the business field and require many prerequisites you may not have. 🙁

What’s one thing I’ve learned through going through this process of schooling? School doesn’t teach you how to be financially free in life, to make money work for you, to colour outside of the lines and think outside of the box with life. 

We’ve been cultivated to colour inside the lines with a fear of failure if we even attempt something different. We have conditioned ourselves into thinking that we can only be successful if we follow the path school has set out for us. How many times have your parents told you, the only way to succeed in life is by going to university and getting a degree? Well, you got that degree, but now what? The system gave us the path to making money but has failed to teach us the life skills we need to navigate what to do with that money. 

What if this conventional way of thinking is not the only option for us? What if there’s a way to be a specialized professional while also becoming more financially woke and integrating that into our lifestyles: to be a scientist while also being an investor, an artist while also owning a business, an engineer while also being a property manager?

Life presents so many opportunities to us, that we don’t have to limit ourselves to one thing, one profession, or one lifestyle. We live in a time where information is present at our fingertips at no cost. We have access to information that our parents may not have had at their time. We have the ability to learn more about financial freedom, even if that is not related to the profession we chose in university. 

Your mindset is everything. It’s not too late to become more financially woke. Step out of that comfort zone and take active steps to develop your financial literacy. We tend to lean towards safety and security because that’s all we’ve known. It’s also much easier to blame the world and society for the conditions they put you through, rather than seeing that negative mentality in yourself. So here are some steps to follow to make active changes in your mindset: 

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Photo by Randalyn Hill

Change your mindset from a deficient, negative standpoint to a positive, enabling one.

You want to own a house? Instead of telling yourself you can’t afford a down payment because society has made it unaffordable, start reading about mortgages, loans, and down payments. You want to start your own business? Instead of telling yourself you can’t because you didn’t study business in university, start reading about the basics of it and connect with people who have built their own empires. We are stuck in a mindset which never allows us to completely feel empowered to be different and fulfilled. We are constantly competing with others and ourselves for a better position in life. This is called the rat race cycle. A great starting point that helped me with learning about the rat race cycle I was stuck in myself was the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki.

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Make active steps to learn about your financial interests!

I went to university to become a Registered Nurse and I thought that was my highest point in life as school had taught me. I was stuck in my own rat race cycle of wanting to move up the ladder in nursing, get promotions, and study more to make more money. But my biggest disconnect in life was my lack of financial knowledge which limited my future goals of owning a business, owning real estate property, and investing. I felt that I was constantly chasing bigger goals in my career which led to less satisfaction every time I achieved the next milestone. And with inflation on the rise, living paycheck to paycheck became a bigger problem. I was making active income, but I didn’t know how to make money work for me, passively. So that’s exactly what I did: I researched what I needed to know to reach my goals and identified my knowledge gaps. Everyone’s goals may differ from one another and everyone’s path to achieving these goals will be different. Identifying what you need to do and know to reach your goals is the first step you need to take to get out of your rat race.

Use the resources at your fingertips.

There is an abundance of free courses online that you can use to enhance your knowledge of financial literacy. One course that helped me learn about personal finance is McGill University’s free Personal Finance Essentials course which breaks down complicated financial topics into common language for us non-business majors. If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner, use YouTube videos, Netflix documentaries, or podcasts to enhance your understanding of topics. If you’re more of a read/write learner, find books available that provide you with education on what’s needed to reach your goals.

Photo by Benjamin Riot
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Photo by charlesdeluvio
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Photo by Arun Prakash

Connect with your influencers.

I reached out to individuals who I felt were successful in my goals and I asked them to have coffee chats, to pick their brains on understanding how to follow in their footsteps. LinkedIn is a great resource to use to reach out to people with similar interests. The people who are successful in their fields have gone through your current struggle and can provide insightful advice on the steps you need to take to attain your goals. 

Believe in yourself!

I told myself not to be afraid of failure because the only way to be different, explore your interests, and get out of the rat race cycle is by taking risks and believing in your abilities.

It comes down to this: the school system may not have set us up with the life skills we need for financial freedom but as cliche as it sounds, if there’s a will, there’s a way. You just have to ask yourself the right questions and look for opportunities to learn how to achieve your financial goals. Never lead your life telling yourself you can’t do something, always look for ways around meeting your goals. Ask yourself the right questions: “How can I achieve this? What resources can I tap into to learn about my options?” There’s no limit to learning and I truly believe your mentality in life shapes your actions, your motivation, and your drive for change. 

*Disclaimer: All of the information, opinions, and views provided in this post are based on my personal experiences. Reader’s discretion is advised related to any of the views presented.



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