Think of yourself like a business.
Businesses often make decisions fundamentally differently than individuals do, but you can gain a lot from thinking in a similar way.
Businesses have clients, not employers. The successful ones care deeply about those clients, but they recognize that they’re the core architects of their activity. Businesses aren’t groveling and begging, they’re advertising. That’s what you should be doing. Information about you should be plentiful, positive, and easy to find. Don’t hide.
Businesses invest in themselves for the long term. They keep immediate costs as low as possible, but successful businesses know when to spend money on things that will have a very positive long-term return on investment. Think about traditional higher ed – the standard argument in its favor is that while it’s ridiculously expensive, it pays off more in the long run. But there are things that are many orders of magnitude cheaper than a college education that will pay off way more. Just taking a writing course, learning a programming language, or attending a workshop can be far, far more beneficial. As a good rule of thumb, make sure you’re spending more on stuff like that each month than you are on luxuries you don’t need.
On that note – successful businesses tend to only buy things that (they at least have good reason to believe) will make them more money than they cost. Businesses don’t have consumption goods. You might buy a fancy house for the social status, but a business buys a fancy office because it believes it will attract more customers. Are you getting better job offers because of your sports car?
Of course, you’re a person and not a business. You have feelings and care about enjoying the pleasures of life. You should – why else live? But don’t buy those things first. First, buy things that will pay for the other things.
Want an example? Let’s say you want a fancy new car – like $500/month payments fancy. And let’s say you could even afford it. Still don’t. Instead, take that money and invest in something that will return at least $500/month – like a new online business, the equipment to do a side hustle, or even an investment in an existing organization that will pay that dividend. Heck, buy a lawn mower and enough posters and Yelp ads until you’re making an extra $500/month mowing lawns.
Then buy the fancy new car.
This is a dramatic change in thinking for most people. But it can produce dramatic results. If you run your life like a business, the biggest dividend will be freedom.