My Reality Check Bounced!: The Gen-Y Guide to Cashing in on Your Real-World Dreams

My Reality Check Bounced!: The Gen-Y Guide to Cashing in on Your Real-World Dreams

by Jason Ryan Dorsey

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It’s time to cash your reality check and re-create your life on your own terms.

In your twenties you expect to finally live life on your own terms. But it can seem like the world won’t cooperate. Roommates drive you crazy (but you can’t afford to lose them), entry-level jobs frustrate you (“Four hundred double-sided copies before lunch,”), and even a dream job can take over your nights and weekends, leaving you feeling like you are running hard but going nowhere.

Jason Ryan Dorsey helps you turn this coming-of-age crisis into opportunity. He shows you the big secret of the real world—that you don’t realize how much control you have over your life until you use it. In My Reality Check Bounced! Jason shows you how to:

Find the courage to climb out of your real-world rut
Create a Future Picture that gets you off your “buts”
Uncover opportunity and build a tag team to make the most of it
Live like you mean it, and finally cash your reality check.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767924986
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 01/02/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 425 KB

About the Author

Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Ryan Dorsey wrote Graduate to Your Perfect Job when he was just eighteen, and it went on to sell 200,000 copies. He has since spoken to more than 500,000 young adults and those who educate and employ them. Winner of the Austin Under 40 Entrepreneur of the Year Award at age twenty-six, Dorsey has appeared on Today and The View and in Teen People. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Read an Excerpt


We are all born unable to take care of ourselves. Living with meaning and purpose is a learned behavior.

Reality–Check Moment—

Tiffany, twenty–four, arrived distracted and anxious at the tiny coffee shop where we had agreed to meet. Despite her stylish business suit and expensive haircut and makeup, Tiffany had the look. I have seen it so often among twentysomethings in her situation. She was frustrated and disillusioned, wondering why her life just didn’t feel right.

Tiffany thought she’d done everything she was supposed to. She made dean’s list at her college and, after graduating, landed a great job. Now she was supposed to be spreading her wings, dating her true love, enjoying her career, and going on exciting adventures. Instead, the long hours and short tempers made her feel constantly on edge and insecure. She was asking herself the question about her place in life that haunts so many talented people in our generation: “Is this it?

She felt trapped, stuck and confused. That’s why she called me. She heard from a mutual friend that I helped people like her find their way again.

Tiffany ordered a double latte, then she cautiously confessed: She wasn’t getting enough sleep. She didn’t have time for her friends, family, or love life. She’d stopped working out. She was smoking too much. She wanted more freedom and sense of purpose. Despite working in a busy office six and sometimes seven days a week, she felt alone and lost. At twenty–four years old, Tiffany felt she was running hard but going nowhere.

“I never imagined I’d be in this position,” she told me. “Maybe I was just young and naive, but I thought everything would fall into place and I’d love my life. It hasn’t and I’m not. I’m stressed out all the time. I don’t want to go to work; some days I don't even want to get out of bed. It’s depressing. And I don’t know what to do about it. I feel so confused. Nothing in college prepared me for this. Now I keep asking myself, Is this what I worked so hard for?

Tiffany's reality check had bounced.


Tiffany’s not the only twentysomething who hasn’t cashed in on her real–world dreams. Are you no longer a kid, but still unsure where you’re headed or what your life’s all about? Do you constantly find yourself settling for the safe path, rather than chasing what you most want? Are you spending hours downloading music or surfing the Web, chatting with friends on your cell phone, or watching late–night cable TV rather than living in the moment?

Are you helplessly watching your credit–card debt get bigger and bigger, while your relationships get shorter and shorter? Are you a victim of a bad economy, a mountain of college loans, or an egotistical boss? Are you living back in the house in which you grew up, sleeping in your old bedroom, pleading for gas money? Or do you find yourself trying to share one bathroom with five roommates? Do you still not have the love life you want, the friendships you want, the adventures you want, the home you want, the body you want, the career you want, the respect you want, and the clear sense of purpose you want?

To make matters more frustrating, you know you deserve better. You’re smart. You can work hard when it matters. You know how to push yourself when you need to. You also were raised to think this was supposed to be one of the best times of your life, but it doesn't seem all that euphoric right now.

All these factors make your situation only more frustrating and, in some cases, depressing. Friends can see it on your face no matter how you try to hide it. They can hear it in your voice. You sense it as soon as you wake up in the morning. Your annoyance with your situation shows through in everything you do. You, too, might even have the look.

I know because I went through this soul–searching turmoil myself. And it’s becoming an anthem for twentysomethings around the world. I hear it from recent college grads to twenty–nine–year–old corporate executives: How can doing everything right end up feeling wrong?

While you might long for a sense of purpose, direction, love, or belonging, someone else your age salivates over a 7 Series BMW or a job in New York City; but one thing you share with all twentysomethings is a determination to create success on your own terms.

That’s what differentiates you from previous generations. You don’t want to play by someone else’s rules. You’ve seen what punching the clock nine to nine every day, sitting in an airless cubicle, playing the corporate schmooze game, and worshiping things at the expense of more meaningful dreams can do to a person’s spirit, and you want no part of that. But what do you want?

Success on your own terms:

• To be free to enjoy sunny afternoons with friends, dance when no one is looking, and laugh out loud

• To be able to travel the world and learn about other cultures, ideas, and beliefs

• To pursue a clear and meaningful purpose

• To work with people you like, learn from, and respect

• To feel healthy, loved, and in love

• To make a difference in the world

• To use your talents, energy, and creativity

• To live in a place that feels like home

• To be respected

• To feel like your life means something

That’s all part of filling the reality check void, and that’s what this book is all about.

The challenge for you is that your vision of a meaningful, fulfilling life can conflict with an impersonal real world that does not want to accommodate your needs, ambition, personality, background, and perspective. It expects you to accommodate it! This creates an adversarial relationship that can make you feel powerless and grow into frustration, second guessing, confusion, and restlessness.


Back at the coffee shop, I asked Tiffany what she could do to make her life more the way she wanted. I’ve found that most people who feel stuck like Tiffany know what they need to do. They just haven’t done it. Tiffany answered, “I need a job where I’m happy. That would be the biggest thing. I want to look forward to what I spend most of my day doing.”

We talked about this for a while and came to the obvious conclusion that she needed either to somehow change her current work situation or to consider getting a different job. The only advice I gave her was something she had simply lost sight of in her frustration: She was still in control of her life—not her boss, best friend, roommates, or mom. Her life would start getting better the moment she stood up for herself.

Three weeks later, Tiffany and I met again at the tiny coffee shop. I was half expecting her to share some excuses as to why she hadn't done anything. Instead, the look was gone.

Tiffany was so excited to tell me what happened since our last conversation that I had to get her to slow down so I could get the story straight: Tiffany had decided that she was sick and tired of being overworked and underappreciated, so she told her boss exactly what was on her mind. At first he was flustered and insulted. Then he blamed her for the situation. “At the end of the week I was ready to quit,” she said. “When suddenly my boss walks into my office, apologizes, and gives me a twenty-four-thousand-dollar raise and control of my schedule!”

We high-fived in the middle of the coffee shop!

Tiffany sipped her latte and then said, “I never saw how much control I had over my life until I used it. For a while there I really thought being unhappy was part of growing up and becoming an adult. I was scared. I was afraid that telling my boss how I felt might get me fired or make me look childish. I don’t feel that way anymore. In fact, I think my frustration was an alarm telling me it was time to be honest with myself and start doing what was best for me.”

Tiffany was beginning to see something that many twentysomethings overlook as they are pushed around in the real world: You choose your own path. You choose where you work. You choose whom you date. You choose where you live. You choose what you study. You choose what you do in your free time. You choose, and those choices strung together become your life.

One year later Tiffany did leave her job. She took a new position in a coastal town. Now she likes where she works and the people she works with, she has a serious boyfriend with talk of marriage on the horizon, and she hangs out at the beach on the weekends. What a life! And she made it all happen by courageously standing up for her life and herself.

Tiffany, like you, had the power all along to start creating a life that felt meaningful and right. The only person who doubted that was herself. Not anymore.

BOUNCED:My happiness is out of my hands.

CASHED:How I feel about my life is determined by how I choose to live my life.


You may think you found this book at just the right time. I think you’re right! This book’s message—to stand up and create the life you want—is precisely what you need to hear now. Part of your life, maybe the entire last few years, has left you wanting more meaning, inspiration, adventure, and purpose. It’s time you do something about it. By picking this book as your guide, you are also telling the world that you want to pave this path on your own terms.

What you need are not excuses, money–back guarantees, or group hugs but time–tested strategies to get you on a better course. You usually pick up these strategies after years of being promoted through the school of hard knocks. But you don't want to wade through years of setbacks and sucker punches to learn how to feel alive. You want to use every resource and talent you can to get what you most want out of your life right now. Me, too!

Together we can.

Whether your vision for an awe-inspiring, meaningful life begins with

• Marrying your best friend

• Finding your life purpose

• Earning a promotion

• Starting your own business

• Graduating with a fancy degree

• Losing weight

• Climbing a mountain

• Changing the world

or something more intimate—you have an idea of what you want your life to look, feel, taste, smell, and sound like. At this precise moment, all that separates you from living that amazing experience are learning, action, and time.


1. You have chosen to learn. This book will reveal what you need to know, some things you already know, and a few things you will never forget.

2. You control your actions. You determine when you apply what you know, so you can start benefiting from your smarts as soon as you are ready.

3. Your future starts today! The sooner you work to create the life you desire, the sooner you will have it!


At twenty–four, Tiffany had to start living like she meant it if she was going to feel truly alive. No other person understood her hopes, dreams, memories, and fears the way she did. No other person understands your hopes, dreams, memories, and fears the way you do. Tiffany felt as if she were being smothered by her job and forced to silence her dreams. But settling for safe was her choice. All along Tiffany had the power to make her life the way she wanted it, and now she’s doing just that. Will you?

You have ambitions and abilities; it’s time they produced results. You have good ideas bouncing around in your head; it’s time they came to life. You know in your heart you were born to do more, be more, and experience more. But only you can make what you believe to be possible spring to life. Only you.

If I’ve learned anything listening to and documenting so many different individual life stories, it’s that finding your place in the world doesn’t hinge on the impersonal real world. It hinges on your world. Once you let go of common twentysomething beliefs--such as “it’s out of my control” and “it’s not my fault” and “it’s not the right time”—you will be free to start doing what it takes to get where you want. You will rise above your confusion and be able to live life on terms you establish and to get what you demand.


Like Tiffany, you may have lost sight of your power to choose and, as a result, talked yourself out of control and into an unsatisfying rut. This is a challenging predicament and can be solved only by recognizing there will never be a magical right time to stand up for yourself and your future. All you have is right now. Until you see right now as the time to make changes for the better, you will continue feeling overwhelmed by your surroundings and situation. You will turn this feeling into excuses that keep you from breaking free such as: rent, car payments, credit–card bills, how your boss is unfair, how you need another degree, what your mom wants you to do…all of which only reinforce your unsatisfying holding pattern.

Waiting for any other time, especially the right time, to make your break for your dreams just wastes irreplaceable opportunities. You end up sitting on your dreams while your fears and insecurities take the lead. You continue getting older and more frustrated but not an inch closer to what will bring more meaning and satisfaction to your life, yet it’s entirely your choice—even if you decide to ignore the fact that you choose the life you lead.

This was Tiffany’s challenge. The more she stalled waiting for her situation to get better, the more helpless she felt. Unfortunately, most twentysomethings never experience a neon–bright moment of divine intervention or profound clarity that inspires them to finally leap after their dreams. Instead, with each passing year of not being satisfied and not doing anything about it, they grow more reluctant to take the risks necessary to create the outcomes they long for. Before they know it, they look back and wonder where all that time went. You deserve better.

You deserve to be excited about each and every day. You deserve to wake up feeling confident, inspired, and on the right track. You deserve to go to sleep beside your best friend secure in the fact your life means something. You deserve to give yourself a chance to make this happen.

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