How does one get ahead in life? Does everyone have the same drive to get ahead? Like many things, getting ahead has different meanings for different people. For some people, getting ahead has a short term focus, such as making enough money to pay the monthly bills. For other people, getting ahead means constantly improving one’s lot in life, including such things as pursuing continuing education (regardless of one’s educational level); learning a new skill, such as a foreign language; and striving to improve one’s life, as well as the life of others. Getting ahead, to me, involves finding new and innovative ways to help people, including myself. I recently participated in many hours of continuing education to maintain my certification as a civil court mediator. In addition to this training, I regularly participate in networking events with my co-mediators so that I can benefit from their experiences. I have reached the age when many of my friends are retired or semi retired. Some of them are perfectly content to sit around and do nothing, or next to nothing, while others are thoughtfully engaged in all sorts of self improvement tasks, including volunteering their time and skills to help other people. There is nothing wrong with spending one’s twilight years tending the garden, but for me, getting ahead in life will not end when my years of working have concluded. My philosophy is that, in order not to fall behind in life, I need to keep working at getting ahead.
Getting ahead, as Melissa suggested, is an idea which is subject to much interpretation. I agree with Melissa though, that getting ahead requires one to take steps to make it possible. Education is probably the most universally accepted step. But, it is interesting as I talk with people to listen beyond the words, and sometimes hear a person who has potential. It takes energy, it takes caring, it takes enthusiasm and listening (by them) with empathy. Over the years I’ve had in person and telephone encounters with people whose interpersonal skills stood out. In contrast to a prior post about annoyances, these people were truly helpful and created a positive impression. Though I have no way to know how they were “getting ahead” in their own careers, I believe it is important to reinforce those positive encounters by thanking them, and, whenever possible, ensuring that the person’s manager is aware. Sometimes, when there is the opportunity to complete a “short 1 minute survey,” I do; these folks deserve to get ahead, they earned it. Personally, I find it hard to “sit still” and not learn new things. Some are easier than others, but learning, and being willing to experience new things (see https://magnusinsights.com/2022/01/try-it-once/) generally help me feel like I’m getting ahead personally. Turning such learning into getting ahead in other areas may or may not pay off, in the short run anyway. Letting oneself be stuck in a rut is a sure way not to get ahead, but instead, to let the world pass one by.
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