T Nation

What to Do with My Life


I’m 17 years old, and my junior year is coming to a close. My girlfriend is about to leave for college, and I want to stay with her through college and I’m fully prepared for the struggles, I’m highly disciplined.

I’m interested in a lot of things but I don’t know what school to go to or how to make a ton of money.

My goals are to make as much money as possible, learn as much as possible, take care of my body to the max, play basketball a lot, get stronger, and one day marry my high school sweetheart.

I have many interests, but I don’t know how to make money with it.

I need to know how to fix cars and shit like that too…I need to know the trades.

I need to know everything.

I take AP Calculus now, I have a B.

I take AP Chinese as well, I have an A and it’s probably my strongest subject.

I also take AP Government. I like political science and economics.

I like business, too, somewhat.

I want to go to school in state.

I hear that airplane engineers are in high demand though, but it’s so much I want to do and I see that I can make my life good with the power of my mind since it doesn’t look like I can be a professional athlete.

I just need a course of action…I don’t want to be like those people who wish they could go back to school but can’t because they are stuck paying off scholarships because they couldn’t make up their mind about their life.

I only have one shot at this.


Develop yourself during your teens and early 20s and don’t hitch your cart to a HS sweetheart. Struggles are for a married couple with 3 kids and a mortgage (and a shared history), not a couple who’ve been together a year or two.

Beyond that, try and experience everything you possibly can and remember: Man makes plans and God laughs.




I think it should be a law about getting into marriage or a serious relationship until your close to 30…


Not true. Ive changed majors 3 times and broke up with my high school sweetheart after my first semester, im also 23. I work with a guy currently whose wife graduated with a masters in History, realized she hated it after a few years of working. Went back to college, got into med school, became a surgeon. Then, she decided she didnt want to do that, so she opened up her own clinic in the inner city to provide cheap healthcare for those who cant afford it. You are only 17, you are gonna have endless opportunities in life if you are smart and keep a level head.




Smart people create many paths to success.

I suggest you do the same.


Good lord, that Sounds like a terrible lack of commitment, and someone continually running away from challenges.

But at least she has a bunch of unnecessary student debt to deal with for years, so thats good.


You want to know everything? You want to know da traades??

Mechanical engineering should be considered. With that degree you’ll know everything. People in da traades talk and they remind you of all the shit you’ve learned in ME school. They just apply it practically.

With no traade experience i was able to build a bathroom from scratch, and theres few projects that scare me. In college, I learned not only Engineering stuff, but also HOW to learn which was maybe most valuable.


Sounds like someone who didnt like were they were going life, had the power to change it, and did. You think running a borderline free health clinic in a impoverished area isnt a challange?


Just to continue, how do you consider leaving whatever job she had as a history major to go to med school to become a surgeon “running away from challenges”? Looks like she ran right into the fucking struggle bus with that one.


just 4 years. Amazing what happens when you become a surgeon and the hospital pays off your debt.


I think you have fine goals, and it appears that you are working toward them in an organized and practical manner. As people suggest the trades bear in mind that you should do whatever you do with an awareness that fluent Mandarin, should you achieve that, allows you to do whatever you do at the international level. Americans are not, by and large, keen on learning Asian languages, so it’s an advantage in almost any field. Keep it in mind.

I’m not sure why people are down on your plan to stick with your girl. The odds are strongly against the two of you making it (when she begins a new life both of you will struggle with the change) but hey, maybe you will, and if so, so what? I have a close friend who’s been with her high school boyfriend since they were 15 and 16 and it’s a pretty cool marriage. He went to Columbia University while she stayed behind in their home town, 2 hours away. As I understand it she started college after she graduated (not sure where, maybe state U.) but didn’t stick it. They got an apartment together in the city and she worked while he finished college and then went to law school. After he finished law school and started working she went back to school and finished. They’re pretty wealthy, at least by my standards, and their families are completely intertwined because they were basically neighbors and have been together for one million years. I’ve been to her parents’ house and we drove by the husband’s just around the block. They’re still very close to their high school friends (her best friend lives nearby in the city along with both of his younger siblings - probably because my friends led the charge).

Another pair of friends started dating when they were 14 and wound up having a baby at 17. Yikes. But had a lot of family support and now they have three kids and he has a PhD in physio-psychology (neuroscience - doing brain surgeries on rats and seeing what impact on pain, addiction, etc). He’s a tenured professor at a decent school.

But again, they’re the exception. You could be the exception, too, who knows. So relax, see how it goes when she leaves for school, and enjoy yourselves.


I work with psychiatrists and know a couple who started with a masters in counseling or social work and went back for an MD. I know even more nurse practitioners who went back to school after finding whatever they were doing unsatisfying, either personally or financially (probably the latter).

I’ve considered going back several times also, because psychiatric nurse practitioners make a great deal more money than I do (therapist), but then I remember how much I would hate being a psychiatric nurse practitioner and how much I love being a therapist - most days - and decide all over again that money isn’t everything.


I disagree. “make as much money as possible” isn’t a goal. It’s a wish. A goal is something actionable/measurable. “learn as much as possible” … ok, in what? What d you want to learn about? In what order? how? when?

He doesn’t have goals, he has, i don’t know, ideas? dreams? Certainly not goals. For instance, “make as much money as possible.” Well, that depends on how he goes about “making money” - will he do it in the janitorial services? I mean you can “make as much money as possible” being a janitor. But it won’t be as much as half as possible, when the day is said and done, as a VP of Product Development. It’s a subjective goal with no focus, vision or timeline.

Goals should be clear and should emerge in the values you want to live by in your work and life. What does he want to be, own or do this year? In 5 years? Why? How? How can his ultimate defined goals be boiled down into actionable, timed tasks or steps?

He has not defined the how’s why’s or what’s. Until then they’re pipe dreams. He has no measurable way to identify if he’s on track to achieve what he wants and no timeline by which to achieve said goal(s). Someday isn’t a time or place. It’s something little kids say.


I have a friend who is in the same field as you, as a therapist too, going back to school next fall to become psychiatric nurse practitioner. She is partly motivated by the money haha


“Make as much money as possible” is a foundational value as well as an ill-defined goal. I started with “help as many people as possible” and narrowed down from there, sharpening the goal into something useful. He’s only 17, to begin the process of assigning priority to his values is preliminary goal-setting. He also outlines possible routes as well as strengths, hence my note that the Chinese is a money-maker because it puts you on another level when combined with the right kind of job.

I think he’s going about this in exactly the right way. Broad goals (wishes, as you put it, as in “want to travel”), plus areas of interest and aptitude, plus practical considerations (“don’t want student debt”) = life path in the short term.

Is that not exactly what he’s doing here? I don’t see “how do I make tons of money, guys?” I see “here are my broad goals” followed by the specific factors he’s trying to sort through and asking for input over. People have responded mostly about “marry my high school sweetheart” and mostly I’m disagreeing that all of the listed broad goals (money and girl) aren’t perfectly fine.

That’s what he’s asking for help with:


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken


That’s asking for a lot. To make as much money as YOU think is possible you would need to figure out what YOU would excel at. This you still have time to do.

In order to excel at something, more times than not you’ll have to focus in on that subject and ignore others. So learning as much as possible is not something that is realistic unless you devote the majority of your attention on one thing at a time. I’m not going to tell you what to major in or what kind of career to pursue, but look at the things that you’re doing well in now, and see how you can use that to make you money. Someone who is fluent in Chinese working for the government or a big business sounds like someone who is getting paid.

The girlfriend part is tricky, I wouldn’t recommend a serious relationship until after college. Especially a long distance one, you’ll be missing out on a lot of experiences.


I recommend a book titled “Switch” which outlines when goals should be SMART and when there are better options