Truth #8: We're Gonna Have to Make the Wild West Work
It’s time to put on our cowboy-space-helmets and exploit some opportunity.
There are few people that decide on a path and stick with it—making RRSP contributions and thermos lunches along the way.
Plus, does yesteryear’s stability even exist anymore?
We are living through a transitional time, where pensions and 40+ year nursing runs seem, well, preposterous. Gone are the days of the play-it-safe and the straight and narrow. The well-worn playbook is no longer relevant.
When parents talk to kids about choosing a career and going to school for that “thing”, it feels a bit passé. It’s an earnest response to a confusing time, but it’s dated.
Note: Please sir, this is not an attempt to knock school. Any and all education is valuable for exposure, gathering data, and poppin’ training-wheel wheelies on freshly paved roads. Institutions matter and offer up new keys to go on our custodian’s size keyring. However, if getting a degree was ever a means to an end, it sure as hell isn’t now.
All to say, one-size-fits-all doesn’t fit very well anymore. Any ol’ university or college degree does not automatically plug into the new world. And while traditional careers still require traditional execution, the grey area is rapidly expanding.
As we speak, things are being burnt to the ground. In this burn, we have a few choices. We can either: mourn yesteryear’s stability and try to make it fit, wait and see, or take advantage of the changing of the guards.
More than ever before, there’s a palpable air that is “every man for themselves” and wild-westy.
There is crisp desert air and assless chaps abound. We are *metaphorically* riding our mustangs into untrodden, unkempt terrain with unlimited cell data. Our tailbones hurt and we’re not sure where we’re going, but we know it’s time to trot on. Out on the horizon we catch a glimpse of the new world. It’s not exactly what we imagined, but if we hurry up we might get first dibs on the perfect spot for a Cameo-inspired, deepfake saloon where settlers can pour one out with a hologrammed Mick Jagger.
Admittedly, today’s wild west climate is disconcerting. It’s chaotic and uncertain. It feels like nothing matters, and everything matters. It’s hypocritical and polarizing. It’s all-revealing, yet artificial. It’s a time of serious flux where rules seem to no longer apply.
But right now, we are reinventing what contemporary life looks like. And herein lies our opportunity.
*Here ye, here ye townspeople. Gather round! Ahem!*
We’ve watched a teen with paper-cut thin lips get injections and become an overnight billionaire for “nice lips”.
Content creators are doing nothing of substance and raking in the cash.
People are selling foot pics for six figures.
Granny’s homes are becoming beaver-paneled Airbnbs.
Grammy (not granny) winning albums are being recorded from bedrooms.
Scrappy kids with good wifi are eclipsing ivy leaguers.
Niche weirdos are finding community and monetizing.
Individuals are becoming brands.
While overly simplistic, the point is that right now, anything goes. We no longer need to wait for the official go-ahead or job offer. People are self-producing, DIYing, and creating without co-sign.
Although a lot of it is fucked up, dystopian, and “me no likey”, it’s to our benefit to make elements work for us.
For anyone over 30, this will require some reprogramming. As a millennial, and someone who grew up with instilled values like “you have to earn it”, “become a lawyer” and “you're only as good as people think you are”, it’s hard to accept the shift.
Elements of this new world feel like total bullshit, but change happens with or without us. The sooner we activate the parts that work for us, the faster we can swap out some of yesterday’s bullshit for the new age variety (*with tasting notes of individualism and self-absorption*).
While it can feel, even as a 30-something, like we’re aged out by tech geeks and Gen Z’s, we have to adjust our settings. It’s only getting started. It may not be what we want, but it’s what we have.
And yeah, we’re probably going to have to learn things like Instagram Reels (*shudder*).
But on the flip-side, there are fewer gatekeepers. Democratically, no single person or group is the deciding factor anymore. In this new world set-up, we may never have to sit in offices again. We could discover that AI is a good task-master and never have to call Service Canada again. We may be able to hack it to the top.
Our best wild west move is to figure out what we want and exploit this emerging, lawless grey land. If we set-up shop quickly, we have a better shot of using this new flav of bullshit to our advantage. So, as per usj, the onus is on us to decide on the type of life we want (e.g. leisurely lunches and a passive income stream, i.e. dropshipping bedazzled shoe horns), and try to figure out the new tools at our disposal.
It’s time to put on our cowboy-space-helmets and think about what appeals to us. If this is difficult, think about what we wanted to do as a kid. For example, when my dear cousin, Kyla was young she said, “when I grow up, I want to be a pee hole!”.
It’s a classic line, and hey, I’d wager it’s more possible than ever today!
If we scan through our developmental years, think about our raw talents and interests. These are the things that stood out before ego and outside influence came into play (e.g. impressing our grandparents or needing to make a shilling).
So, “greatest pee hole in the word” aside, what do you like doing? Who do you want to be? What do you want to build?
If you’re struggling to identify a skill or idea that you’d like to exploit in the new world, spend a few mins alone (without your goddamn cellphone) and answer:
Before needing to get a job and do dishes, how did you spend your time?
Who or what do you envy?
What did your family or fav teacher tell you that you were “special” at?
What makes you feel accomplished?
What are you good at but you’re afraid to show people?
What has made you feel in the zone/ lose track of time (booze and hot tubs do not count!)?
What tools do you have right now, or that you’re willing to learn, that can help you?
Then, fill in the blanks: If I didn’t have to worry about money or doing dishes, I’d like to be/do ____________ all day.
Hot Tip: If you’re stuck on identifying what the hell you want, ask “what do I NOT want?”. What do you LOATHE entirely? Knowing what you don’t want is an accessible way to start closing in.
Uncovering the types of things we’re drawn to is the starting point. Accepting that there are more ways than ever to make shit happen, is part two. Things that once felt too small or too inaccessible, perhaps aren’t anymore. We are entering a time where anything is possible and we might be able to show up early to the race.
So, if we have clarity on our purpose—or at least understand what isn’t serving us—it’s time to act. If we don’t, we’re actively postponing becoming who we’re meant to become.
Plus, we’re giving the Gen Z twerps the lead.
When we know what we should be doing, doing anything but the thing is a distraction. And once we’re ready, the wild west calls (and they don’t leave voicemails).