Graduation Tip: How To Make \$1,000,000/Year

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I was speaking to a group of college students recently about career planning. I asked them what they wanted out of their careers. They started shouting out things like:

Fun
Fulfillment
Satisfaction
Growth
Prestige
Money

That last one made everyone giggle. One student chimed in and said, "Ya, I want to make a million dollars in a year. How do I do that?" Instead of jumping into a long, boring rant about what it takes to be successful. I said, "Good question. Let's figure it out right now."

I Did The Math

I started by dividing \$1,000,000 by 50 weeks. (I took out two weeks for vacation.) I came up with \$20,000/week. "Wow," said the students, in a slightly intense tone.

I kept going.

Next, I took that \$20,000 and divided it by five days - the number of days in a typical work week. The result was \$4,000/day. The room got silent.

I moved on.

Finally, I took the \$4,000/day and divided it by eight hours - the typical work day. The final number was \$500/hour. Their faces went blank.

Then, I said this:

All you need to do is figure out what skills you possess that companies are willing to pay you \$500/hour for all year long and you'll make \$1,000,000. It's that easy.

You could hear a pin drop in the room.

The Math Was A Downer

The defeated looks on their faces told me my math wasn't impressing them. But rather, depressing them. So, I decided to turn things around by saying this:

What if, instead of asking, "How do I make \$1,000,000 year?" You ask, "How do I identify the strengths I'll need to leverage and skills I'll need to develop to earn \$500/hour?" The sooner you start looking at yourself as a business-of-one, the better.

The reference to being a business owner perked them up since most students love the idea of being the boss. And, the good news is, they are! In fact, we all are. I went on to spend the next 20 minutes explaining to them the following:

We Are All Businesses-of-One With Uncapped Earning Potential

We live in a country where we are free to develop our skills to the point we can charge what the market will bear. Unfortunately, many people don't think of themselves that way. They don't grow their businesses-of-one to the point they can command higher rates. Some people will immediately challenge this and say, "I can't earn more. I don't have___," citing their lack of a degree, living situation, current responsibilities, etc. as the reason their income is capped. Yet, I can point to plenty of people who came from the toughest of circumstances and now earn millions of dollars. The truth is, like it or not, we all have the potential to earn more.

Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness (Plus, The Potential to Earn More)

Our country's motto uses the word "pursuit" in the same way I am referencing "potential" when it comes to our earnings. We have the right, but it's up to us to use it.

I'm happy to say the students were all smiling when they left the room that day. You could see the wheels turning in their heads. The light bulb had gone off. Earning a million dollars per year was possible after all. They just needed to find what skill their businesses-of-one needed to develop to get them there. (I also sent them here to watch a video on the #1 fastest way to get a job after college.)

P.S - It Doesn't Have to Be \$1,000,000 - But, Could You Be Earning More?

The point of this post isn't that everyone should strive to earn a million dollars. Instead, I hope people ponder ways in which they can take control and earn more in general. I realize discrimination exists, but it shouldn't make you give up on trying to earn more if you really want to. If you struggle to find ways to improve your earnings, seek some advice from a person with the career success you admire. Modeling yourself after people you respect makes a difference. The ability to earn more starts with you believing it is possible, and ends with you doing whatever it takes to make your dream a reality.

P.P.S. - If you found this helpful, you might also want to read this AOL article on why a college degree isn't enough to get a job.