Sunday, October 31, 2010

How to Make Six Figures a Year

People often ask me what it takes to make six figures a year. My answer: When hard work meets opportunity. Notice that I said didn't say luck or falling into things.

True story: I remember the day my world changed. The bus fare changed from $0.40 to $0.75 and I had no idea how I was going to get to work. I didn't have a car and I made $2.13 an hour plus tips. To top it all off, I was a high school drop out that earned a G.E.D. because I knew it was better to have that than be a high school drop out. I mean, my thought process was why even graduate high school? I thought it was a joke. Full of people who fit a mold or category and conformed. Why did I want to do that? They didn't understand me. I was forced to understand them. Why be a part of a system I didn't believe in?

So, there I was trying to make bus fare; deciding my life and what I was going to do. I moved out early in life and after a couple of years had nothing to show for it. I had no medical, no car, no house, nothing. Just my paycheck to paycheck living. How frustrating is that after two years?

Something had to change. I couldn't keep living like this. I couldn't just work and not believe in what I was doing. I decided to go to college. I had to take a placement test where I found out I needed take remedial courses and didn't meet basic education requirements; meaning, I had to take remedial courses that wouldn't count as credit towards a degree. I had a high school freshman education and entered into college as such. It was so tough. I felt so behind. I mean, the pressure was on. I was receiving financial aid and completed almost 38 credit units in one year. To do this, I completed 12 credit units in a single summer. Very tough to complete that much curriculum in that short of a period.

Many of my friends came back the second semester with a tan and well rested and here I was, a sophmore and already exhausted. To add to it, I became part of a student worker program and had to work 20 hours a week to start.

My father was suddenly stationed from San Antonio to California and I made a tough decision to stay behind to finish school. That didn't last long before I realized that life was starting to get harder for me and I needed my family. Nearly four months to the day, I moved to California and started to work on educating myself. I started to work full time in the clerical field (at the time I was making more than minimum wage and thought I had finally made it).

It felt good to start making a steady income. Something I could count on. Something I could hold on to. I worked up the ladder in the financial field, then budgeting, then program management, then contracting. All in all, I spent nearly 10 years of working full time to get an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree and then finally a master's degree in business administration. Some weeks I had to work 60 hours and also had school assignments due. Talk about tough.

Each time I achieved a different degree, I applied for a job that required more responsibility. Soon that paid off when I went to apply to be an adjunct instructor teaching business. Varying view point than what I experienced several years prior. I didn't want to graduate high school, but now I wanted to teach? How ironic is that?

Truth is, I believe in teaching with all of my heart. That is because people had chosen that profession and I chose to learn, which ultimately has led to my success.

I noticed that there was a Director position available at an educational institution and thought to myself, I may qualify, but will they give me a chance?

To my surprise they did and I accepted. I never could have placed myself here, but it fits. I get to collaborate with the smartest minds and value the educational process more than I could have imagined. We are all life long learners and the moment we humble ourselves and realize it, the more we might be able to reach our full potential.

So how to you make six figures year? You work hard, never give up and never settle. Most importantly realize that you determine your potential and your potential isn't what people tell you your capable of. Your potential is up to you.

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