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Have you ever tried listening to a financial radio talk show? I used to listen to one where callers would ask questions like "I'm $200,000 in debt, and if we don't get that cut down, we're going to lose our house. Where do I start?" It was such an odd question to me because I couldn't imagine anyone even having access to that much money without selling black market babies, let alone losing it inside the ever-tightening butthole of debt. But the thing that always caught me off guard is that the guy never got into the fine details on where to fix their problems -- he always concentrated on the basics, and the callers seemed genuinely surprised every time.

Now, my own problems (and those of many of the people reading this article) weren't so much "I don't want to lose my half-million-dollar home" as it was "I'm one step away from stealing a car because prison food is free." But the same basics apply no matter what tax bracket is slapping you in the face with its dick. If you already know these, that's great. Please teach them to someone else, because there are millions of us out there who could benefit by knowing things like ...

You Need Massive Amounts of Patience


The bottom of the job ladder takes longer to climb, and is more covered in shit, than anyone realizes. You can get fooled by that classmate or friend who got an overnight life-changing job or promotion, but that's reserved for certain highly skilled people in certain labor-starved fields. The rest of us average types have to go through a humiliating, years-long grind during which progress isn't apparent. Trust me, there are hordes of people out there who don't realize that until they're balls deep into their first job search.

So these people fall into a pit of depression when they find themselves doing the same thankless bullshit task a few years into that job before they're finally rewarded or even recognized for their efforts. They ask themselves where it all went wrong, when in reality, that's what "going right" looks like. You have to pay your dues with demeaning bullshit before the world lets you advance. I think that this is something an unhealthy portion of college graduates don't quite get, and it hurts them in the long run.

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"Bring on the $200,000-a-year keg-stand jobs!"

"I have a master's degree in sound engineering, but the only studio willing to hire me is some crappy local outfit that wants me to sweep the floors and wipe the ass sweat off of the drummer's fart pad." So they pass on it, thinking, "I'm not a janitor. I'm a highly educated musician, and I deserve more than that." Meanwhile, the last "janitor" that studio had is now running the sound checks and is next in line to enter the production team.

It's extremely easy to overlook how many people in your chosen industry have the same education, only with the added advantage of patience. And that patience is almost always manifested in putting up with jobs like "run the errands that none of the higher-ups can lower themselves to do" like "change John Mayer's ejaculation bucket."

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"Dude, you really, really need to get to a doctor."

Yes, it's going to feel like you've been working your ass off for an eternity without any hope or signs of growth, but I promise you that if you're doing your job (and more than they expect you to do), you are growing. Because they have no choice but to notice you, and that puts you on their mental list of "Chad Workjob is next in line to promote."

Find What's Wasting Your Time, and Kill It


I talked in another article about how one of the true measures of success is when everyone demands your time all at once. Your boss needs you to finish a report by tomorrow morning. The people who work under you (or even on the same level as you) need your input on stuff that they should be able to do on their own. Your kids need help with homework. Your wife is getting pissed because you haven't taken her on a date in four months. Your parents are bitching because you haven't restocked their heroin supply in almost a week. Well, I'm finding that the main difference between success and failure is in how well you learn to adapt to that mad panic of being at the bottom of a multiple-deadline gangbang.

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"OK, good enough. Date's over -- get in the car."

The mistake people make is in assuming that this means rigidly budgeting your time down to the minute, but I've found it's the opposite of that -- it's being able to adjust on the fly and still get everything done on time. Because trust me, a minute-by-minute schedule will get blown apart by noon -- the real world is too messy for that. So mastering time is less about having a book that carefully tracks every minute of the week and more about having an incredibly clear idea of your priorities. Are you working on the thing that actually needs to be done first, or are you working on the thing you find most interesting? If you just spent the last two hours arguing with somebody on the Internet -- are you sure there's nothing else higher on the list you could be working on? Because this is how busy people do it: They learn how to juggle the important things and, more importantly, how to walk away from time-sucking bullshit.

From there, it's a series of trade-offs and adjustments. "This report has to be done by 9 a.m. But my kid is sick, so let's get her stable and taken care of first. Then, we can shuffle out the homework part, because she'll be out of school tomorrow anyway, and slide my work into that slot instead." And if you find yourself going so balls to the wall that you can't find a spare hour or two for yourself to just sit back and relax, you still need more practice. Relaxing is one of the things you have to stick on the priorities list, just like everything else.

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"So ... I take it this means you don't want to hang out?"

And yes, I said "practice." It's the only way to learn how to do this juggling act, and the only way to practice is to overload yourself with projects. Even if it doesn't seem like you can work them in, you'll be shocked at how much time you can magically find when you don't have a choice.

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You Need Help


Let me tell you right off the bat that I am a huge advocate of people achieving success on their own. And I understand that a large majority of your personal ladder climbing will be done with your own two legs ... but you're going to need someone to show you where the ladder is, someone else to hold it, and another person to look up your flamboyant kilt and compliment your balls when you reach the top.

OK, the analogy breaks down there, but you get what I mean. You are going to need help, even if that help only comes in the form of information. Our own Writer's Workshop is a perfect example. In it, we have hundreds, if not thousands of aspiring writers, all pitching articles and hoping to move on to the part where they get to frolic naked through fields of sweet, sweet money bushes. In that workshop, they have help every step of the way: moderators to help them refine pitches, editors to smooth out the content, other contributors giving tips on how they succeeded. Just a ton of information coming at you from every angle like a stoning made out of support.


Stone #4: This One Is Gonna Hurt Like a Mofo

Hell, even in my own writing career, I didn't know I could make a living at it until I had several proven writers and editors explain to me how it was possible and pointing me in the right direction. Without them, my next job would have been stuffing ground sausage up a chicken's ass in a Scotch egg factory. Wait, that's how they make them, right?

But don't think that I'm just talking about how to advance in the field of writing. The same holds true with pretty much every job. One person helps by cluing you in on an upcoming promotion. Another two or three vouching for you gives you an enormous advantage over any other applicant. Another person helps by loaning you his kilt because he read this article and thinks that "analogy" means something associated with buttholes.

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"It's the study of anal, right?"

The biggest problem with help is that it's pretty much guaranteed not to be offered unsolicited. You're going to have to ask for it, and that can be goddamn painful for some people because their ego has told them that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But if you don't get comfortable with the idea soon, you're going to be watching someone else cashing the big-ass checks that should have been yours, while you sit in your same old wobbly office chair and slowly turn into that douchebag who does nothing but bitch about how he's always overlooked.

Want to know something crazy, though? Getting that help is as simple as casually asking your boss "I want to advance with this company. What do I need to start doing right now in order to put that into motion?" You don't need to set up a formal meeting or rehearse a speech. Bosses love that shit, trust me. It shows them that they have a motivated, dedicated employee, instead of some sack of shit who just shows up and does only what they have to do until it's time to punch their time card and run screaming into the sunset.

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"Suck my diiiiiiick!"

It has the added benefit of showing you exactly where you stand at your job. If the boss is so much of a piece of shit that he won't help you in that manner, you now know it's time to start looking for something else.

You Have to Start Right Now


If you read Cracked regularly, you will hear me, Daniel O'Brien, and David Wong harp on this point because we've all lived it, and it is the most vital lesson you will ever learn about climbing the ladder:

The universe isn't handing you jack shit.

You have to make things happen, and every day that you put off starting the process is another day that you have to wait for the payoff. I've caught myself so many times saying things like "When I get my book published ..." even though I hadn't written a solitary word. It was imaginary. A water cooler fantasy that made me sound ambitious, but didn't produce a damn dime because it didn't exist. Or at my old job, I'd bitch about how much it sucked and that it didn't pay enough, but when I got home, I wasn't spending my time looking for something better -- I'd just file it away under "fuck this day" and hit the reset button so I could do it all again tomorrow.

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"Wake me up when snow season gets here. And then shoot me in the face."

I've heard many people say things like "Stop planning and start doing," but I think that's just a tad off the mark. It's not an either/or sort of deal. You can continue planning, but you have to implement the early stages right away. Because just like the time-management point I talked about earlier, those plans will demand modifications as you roll along. For instance, you might have planned to punch your boss in the cock on your last day of work, but you couldn't because he was out that day for cock surgery.

It all starts with simple questions. "How do I make more money right now?" Then laying out your options: get a better job, or get a second job, or start an online sex toy shop. And then, most importantly, doing that thing. But if you wait until your entire plan is mapped out on paper exactly the way you want it, you're going to be in a world of hurt when you realize that 1) those plans never work out the way you pictured them in your head and 2) you were so enthralled, imagining yourself crossing the finish line, that you never left the starting block.

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"You're the best ... around! Nothin's gonna ever keep ya down!"

If you already see these things as common sense, that's a great sign. I'm sincerely happy for you, and I urge you to share them with other people, because you probably don't need to look outside the room you're in to find people who aren't doing any of these. And if you think I've wasted your time, well, that's even better. Think hard about what you should have been doing instead of reading this. Go do that instead. Now you're well on your way to-

You're masturbating again, aren't you? Fine, whatever.

Aside from being a columnist right here on Cracked, John sometimes does other stuff. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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