Despite past involvement with the criminal justice system and drugs, despite problems with school, thousands upon thousands of young adults like yourself manage to make it each year. They graduate from high school or earn a GED.
They find and keep jobs, attend college, raise families, and give back to their communities. You may have taken a few wrong steps along the way, yet you remain—and always will be—more than just the sum of your mistakes. Everyone develops at a different pace, and you shouldn’t
be judged by anyone (including yourself) for your own timeline.
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that an adult labeled you “at-risk at some point.” What they didn’t realize is that you’re not at-risk— you’re “at-opportunity.” Even right now, by cracking open this book, you’ve proved that you have what it takes to make it, and you possess more resilience than most people can understand. Why? Because you moved past all the obstacles mounted against you to get here. And you made it. Congratulations—you’re at the starting line for your success.
You probably weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but don’t go thinking you’re empty handed. You’re rich in a long history of others who overcame a lot to become something great. And if all those people could do it, then you can too.
Most older folks try to pretend that their generation never had any issues, that they blossomed right into adulthood as saints. The truth is that each generation has had beef with the generations that came before them. The weed-smoking hippies of the sixties grew into the Wall Street execs of the eighties, leading this country to its greatest economic recession in eighty years. Those dropouts of the seventies are now the ones regulating the information superhighway. And the party animals of the eighties? They’re now raking it in as the Shark Tank entrepreneurs of today. It’s high time that you and your generation get yours.
What trapped the young people of earlier generations and may be tripping you up now is a survival mindset. When you’re in survival mode and caught in an immediate-results environment, the wants of today become stronger than the glimmering promise of tomorrow.
You develop immediate-results habits, reinforced by a society that glorifies the fast, the now, and the moment. The problem is that the first prerequisite for success is shifting that mindset to a delayed-results one. Unfortunately for us, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution pushes us back into that “gimmee now” mentality.
We develop habits through the continuous use of tools, beliefs, values, and behaviors. If you think about it, people wake up in the morning holding onto the same attitudes about school that they had all year. They hold the same old beliefs about opportunity, never really getting out there or never really trying to get a job. They let their disappointments or fear of failure be their reason for giving up. Maybe they’re saying they value education, yet they can’t remember the last time they put in more than two hours of straight studying; maybe they say that they want a job, but they refuse to stop using drugs to pass a drug test.
While many of these habits hold you back, they fulfill a
purpose—they make people feel safe. People are content with the familiar. Day after day, people carry out the same patterns. The future becomes predictable. Therefore, if habits make your reality, and you want to change your reality, then the answer is simple: you have to change your habits.
Developing a delayed-results mindset is challenging; many people get caught up in an environment that doesn’t encourage new habits. It’s tough when we’re constantly pummeled by forces pushing an immediate pleasure-seeking mentality, whether it comes from your friends who want to get high today, a program focused on getting you an immediate job, or a weight-loss plan that promises ten pounds down in two weeks.
The redundancy of these efforts is a powerful force weighing against your success because it is exactly the opposite of what you need to make it: a delayed-return mindset.
Take Ali. Each morning, he promised himself that he would go out and find a job, yet he greeted each day by scrolling through all of his social media pages for a quick dopamine hit (that natural chemical that floods your body and makes you think you’re happy). When he did roll in to class, he would spend 60% of his day looking at his phone or daydreaming about the wicked game of Fortnight waiting for him. He’d head home, abandon the idea of homework, and spend the night switching between video games and social media. In bed, he’d promise himself that he’d go out and find a job the next day only to wake up and repeat the same routine, day in and day out.
Any transformation from your old self to your new self will feel uncomfortable (even threatening) to anyone who’s been trained to seek out instant gratification. Our culture has trained us to be that way: educational systems emphasize passing the test, workforce systems stress landing the job, and so many healthcare systems focus on simply doling out quick-fix medications for symptoms instead of solving the root disease. Investing in the long-term isn’t yet a focus of the world you move through, but don’t let that fool you: a delayed-result mindset is what is required to truly survive and thrive in it.
MAKiN’ iT isn’t defined as just getting and keeping a job or going to college—that’s only thinking about the short-term. MAKiN’ iT is about adopting a delayed-results mentality to achieve goals and reach opportunities you may have never known existed, and it begins the moment you start consistently taking responsibility for your life, freedom, and Future Economic Opportunity (from now on, we’ll just call that “FEO” for short), and helping others do the same.
-Check out the MAKiN' iT book for more of DeJesus' message on true survival and success.