Getting your start in life as an adult has become harder and more complicated than it was in the past. The pandemic has made things even more challenging. Here are four tips to help you reach your dreams. All of these I have done or seen others do.

I hope you can use some of these common-sense plans and ideas to help make your dreams a reality.

1. If I needed a job (or a better one), I’d get a degree in the field I wanted to work in. Enroll in school, either academic or trade, to earn a degree. Fifty years ago, a high school diploma could get you a job that would support a family, but now it can’t. There are many scholarship programs available, and many employers will pay for your education and give you a raise when you get your degree.

Today, unless you are a very rare bird (or a very good artist), becoming a master at your trade or earning a degree is the only way up. There’s no reason not to pursue this.

2. If I wanted a car, I’d get a side job at a car dealership. After a couple weeks, I’d politely ask if I could buy a used trade-in at cost; if it’s an old car headed for wholesale, the dealership won’t lose money. I might even try to make this deal part of my hiring package. That’s being open and honest about your goals, and the more people you have pulling for you, the better.

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I would also have a second job, so I could upgrade this beater as soon as possible. Of course, an alternative is to move to a city where public transit is easy.

3. If I wanted a house (or a better one), I’d get a side job in a real estate company, and I’d get a license. When I was first in the market to buy, my brother had a real estate license, which was close enough for me, so we looked together, and I finally found a place. I bought my first house with a partner/roommate. When he got married, I bought him out and found another roommate to help cover the mortgage.

When I had saved enough to get a better house in a better neighborhood, the roommate came with me. His rent paid half of my new mortgage, and I kept the first house, renting it to some friends from grad school.

4. If I wanted to make more money, I would start a side business (or two). When I was young, I used to flip cars. Houses would have been better, but you work with what you’ve got. Playing guitar also helped get me through grad school, and I even sold instruments along the way. Your side gigs grow and morph, and eventually you will be able to own and sell a house or find a holy grail guitar. Having side gigs also keeps your mind active and inspires you creativity.

These four tips to help you reach your dreams can be a good model for any direction you choose. The journey to your dreams can be fun. Once you reach them, you may have to create new ones to stay in a positive headspace and keep moving forward.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, California, is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.