Entitlement is a big issue in this country. People feel entitled for all sorts of reasons. And everyone likes to harp on the younger generation, but it really is a problem across the board.
Rich people think they deserve something special because they’re are rich. Poor people think they deserve something special because they’re poor. Middle-class people think they deserve to move up because they’ve done x y or z.
Webster defines entitlement as: “the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges).”
The problem is, you’re entitled to very few things. Free speech or the right to trial would be two examples if you live in America. But when it comes to a good job, a nice house, smartphones, a reliable car, vacations, or even just going out to eat, you don’t deserve any of that. You’ve got to work for it.
And if you don’t get this idea that you deserve to be successful out of your head, you’re never going to be successful.
Ultimately, entitled people feel like they deserve something regardless of how much work or effort they put in. And for that very reason, they will never build wealth.
Let’s look at a few common statements that will keep entitled people poor.
1. I’ve Done This (fill in the blank mediocre task), So I Deserve This
This is the most common belief people think. They believe that because they’ve accomplished something (be it big or small) that they somehow deserve something. The bigger problem is that most people believe this after accomplishing something that is just average.
“I went to college, so I deserve a good job”
“I’ve worked here for 5 years, I deserve a good raise”
“I’ve put in my time for 40 years, so I deserve a good retirement”
Why? Why do you deserve it over anyone else? What sets you apart from the other 1.8 million people who graduate college every year? 36% percent of people who have a bachelor’s aren’t even working jobs that require a degree. Why do you think you’re owed a good job just for getting through school?
Hint: You’re not.
If you look closely you will notice that all of the above statements have the same theme. People feel like they are owed something just because they’ve finished a task that society expects of them. Commitment, college, working for 40 years, none of these are anything special or outstanding, yet people expect special treatment anyways. You don’t deserve to be treated special if you haven’t done anything special.
But let’s put all of that aside. What I really want to talk about, is why this type of thinking will keep you poor.
The main issue is that it doesn’t give you any sort of motivation to make forward progress. If you believe that you should be rewarded for something that is more or less expected of you, you’re going to be disappointed when you’re not. And because you already felt that you deserved something for what you’ve accomplished, you’re not going to realize that it really wasn’t all that special, so you won’t work harder.
Why would you? I mean you probably felt like you worked hard and weren’t rewarded already. Why would you work harder? So you continue to follow the norm. Stick to your regular box and wonder why you’re not getting what you deserve.
I mean you probably felt like you worked hard and weren’t rewarded already. Why would you work harder? So you continue to follow the norm. Stick to your regular and wonder why you’re not getting what you deserve.
If you want to be successful, you need to stop expecting things and start working as hard as you can to make forward progress. All your entitlement is going to do is hold you back.
2. My Parents Live This Way, So I Should Too
A lot of people think this, especially twenty-somethings. Many of us grew up in good homes, with nice cars, and yearly vacations. We’re used to buying what want at the grocery store and not thinking about how much going out to eat really costs. Then we get through college and have to start paying for stuff on our own. All of a sudden we realize how expensive the life that we grew up living really is.
(I say “we” because I’m a twenty-something too. I’m speaking to myself here as much as I am to you.)
It’s easy to get used to living a certain way and it’s very hard to change that when you’re finally out on your own.
But, like number 1, this belief will also keep you poor if you don’t get rid of it.
The fact is, your parents didn’t get the life they have now easily. They didn’t always have good cars and nice vacations. My parents talk about how in their first few years of marriage they didn’t have hardly any money and slept in a tiny apartment. It took awhile before they were able to do what they can now.
But many young people either forget this, or they haven’t ever thought about it to begin with. If this is you, I encourage you to talk to your parents about what their life was like when they were in their twenties. I bet it looked very different than it does now.
If you want to be wealthy, you’ve got to get rid of this notion that you should be able to afford everything that your parents can. I know, I know, consciously you know this. But subconsciously we think we should be able to afford that life.
So what do you do when you think you deserve it?
You put it on credit. You buy cars you can’t really afford. And you don’t save because there’s no room left in the budget for saving after you get all of the stuff you “deserve”.
If you want to be wealthy you’ve got to tough it out for a little while and save some money. You’re going to have to give up some of the luxuries you had at home, and you’ve got to start making your own way.
Don’t compare your life to your parents. You’re in a totally different spot and you need to focus on doing the best you can where you’re currently at.
3. I’m ( ) Years Old, I Deserve Something Nice
If younger people have a problem trying to live like their parents, older people have a problem with thinking they deserve something just because of their age.
I’m not saying that older people don’t deserve respect or that younger people shouldn’t listen to them for wisdom or guidance. What I’m saying is that people need to get rid of the lie they tell themselves when they believe they should have something nice because of their age.
Here’s just 2 phrases I’ve heard recently:
“I know I can’t really afford it, but ya know at 58 I think I finally deserve a new car”
“Yeah it’s expensive, but at my age I think I deserve just a little something”
Again, this just isn’t true. You shouldn’t buy stuff you can’t afford. And you shouldn’t buy stuff without a good reason. This type of thinking leads people to make stupid financial decisions that can cost them for the rest of their life.
It’s just a lie that we tell ourselves. It’s a way to make up a false achievement so that we can treat ourselves to a false reward. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever treat yourself. But I am saying when you do, it should be for a real reason, not just because of your age.
4. I’ve Worked Hard, I Should Get This
This one is tough. Because there is some truth to it.
If you work hard, you should get a fair wage. I whole heartedly believe that. But the difficult part comes in 2 ways.
- Everyone’s definition of “hard work” and “fair wage” is different.
- Oftentimes hard work doesn’t pay off immediately.
The first one makes sense right. You may think that you’re working really hard or that you’re worth a certain amount, and to you it feels like you couldn’t possibly work harder. But to someone else (like your boss), it may look like you’re really not working all that hard. If you feel like you’re working your tail off and not seeing any reward, you probably need to first really examine yourself to see if you’re actually working all that hard. Then get some people you know and trust and ask them what they think of your work ethic. If you still feel like that’s not the problem, it’s probably time to ask your boss (or whatever you’re working hard towards) about what they think constitutes “good work”.
If you feel like you’re working your tail off and not seeing any reward, you probably need to first really examine yourself to see if you’re actually working all that hard. Then get some people you know and trust and ask them what they think of your work ethic. If you still feel like that’s not the problem, it’s probably time to ask your boss (or whatever you’re working hard towards) about what they think constitutes “good work”.
Unfortunately everyone’s definition of hard work is different, but a good place to start would be to look at someone who has what you want. Find someone who has already achieved what you’re working towards. Then try and compare how hard you’re working to how hard they work. If you’re woefully behind, it’s probably time to kick it into gear.
Of course the other problem with hard work is that it often takes awhile. So people get frustrated because they think they deserve the fruits of their labor shortly after the work. But many times, that’s just not the case. Most successful people worked hard for years before they saw the true rewards.
If you’re working hard but just feel like you’re not reaping any reward, you might just need to hang in there and stick it out a little longer. Your reward might be just around the corner.
Don’t Blame Anyone But Yourself
The biggest thing I want you to take away is that you’re not entitled to success or wealth, and if you don’t achieve what you want, it’s no-one’s fault but your own.
Every generation is a product of the generation before them, but that doesn’t give you an excuse. You can’t blame them for not achieving what you want.
By thinking you deserve something or that it’s someone else’s fault, you’re just limiting your own possibilities. You’ve got to realize that you’re the only one who can do something about your situation. It’s not going to be given to you and no one will make it better for you. But if you think they will, you’ll never work. And if you never work, you’ll never achieve.
You will stay poor. Poor in money. Poor in health. Poor in relationships. Whatever area you feel entitled about, you’ll stay poor.
You’ve got to go out there and work for it.
You have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else on the planet has. And lots of people break world records, create million dollar companies, travel the world, spend time with their family, and lose weight. You’ve got the exact same amount of time they do. So don’t blame anyone else for not getting what you want.
If you want something, chase it and work hard for it. But don’t think you deserve it just because.
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