This week all around the country many teenagers will graduate high school. All the years of homework, minimum wage, and social anxiety will culminate in the wonderful event we call graduation. Many will consider it their move from adolescence into adulthood. Some will go on to college, some directly to careers. Some will enter the military or leave on a religious mission abroad. No matter what the future holds for you, young graduate, there are some tips that I would like you to know as you enter “the real world.”
#1 – Enjoy your time at home. These are your last days with your parents and siblings. Once you leave it will never be the same, even if you come back. You may be in a hurry to get out on your own and experience the “freedom” outside the walls of your home but, trust me, it is a whole lot more complicated than it sounds.
#2 – Don’t grow up too fast. I remember as a teenager how I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and graduate high school. Then I couldn’t wait to be 21 and working towards getting into dental school. And in dental school I couldn’t wait to be done and moving on to my career. Eventually you get to a point and realize you spent so much time looking towards the next phase that you completely forgot to enjoy where you were. The future will come in time but you need to enjoy the present.
#3 – Decide on a vision for your future. You don’t have to decide right now what you want to be when you “grow up.” But you should start thinking about how you picture your ideal life. When you look into your future, are you married? Children? What kind of income? What hours are you willing to work? What type of work seems fun and interesting to you? What education do you need to get your ideal job? Where would you like to live? If you can start answering those questions now, they will naturally guide you as you move forward. Unfortunately, there are far too many people out there in their mid to late 20’s and 30’s who are wandering along trying to figure out what they want to do with their life. They took whatever jobs came their way because of money or necessity and now they are stuck in them. If you decide on your future, you can make it happen. If you let life just happen to you, you will end up with whatever comes your way and I’m pretty certain it won’t be very fulfilling.
#4 – Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. If you don’t take risks, you will never reach your full potential, and you also won’t have much fun. George Bernard Shaw once said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Risk and hard work pay off, mostly, and if they don’t, you will have still learned from the experience, or at least have become a horrible example to others!
#5 – Believe in something. If you are not passionate about something in your life, you are missing something essential. Find something to believe in, and when you do, work for it, sacrifice for it. The great joys in life come from devotion to a great cause; the type of cause that makes you to stretch and grow. Most people walk down the middle of that main road of life, where the ruts are deep and the excitement is watered down. Be one of the bold people who strikes out onto that “road less traveled by.” It will make all the difference.
#6 – Ignore the critics. The moment you decide to believe in something worthwhile you will find that you come up against some critics. Every worthy cause comes with criticism from those too timid to try it themselves. In fact, if you never meet with any criticism, you may want to set higher goals for yourself! Critics are those insecure people who have never dared to invest themselves in a great cause or dream. They cannot accept the fact that someone will do the things that they are afraid to try themselves, so they put all of their energy into criticizing people. They want everyone to be like them so that they can feel okay about themselves. Remember what Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts.” You will hear them, but do not listen.
#7 – Give something back. All of you were blessed with brains, skill and a drive to succeed, or you would not be sitting there this week in those caps and gowns. You don’t simply own those traits… you also owe those things to your parents, your community, and to your country. You are obligated to use those gifts for something other than your own aggrandizement and enrichment. The people I know who are really happy are those who have followed their own muse, and lived their lives in service to others. Do something useful with your lives. Make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Leave something behind when you leave this earth, not just because you should, but because it is the surest way of living a good and fulfilling life, and it will make you happy.
In closing, I would like our young graduates to remember this line from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
You have everything within you to create a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life. Don’t ever doubt yourself. Be bold in the pursuit of your dreams. We are excited to welcome you into the “real world.”
*** Do you have advice for a graduating senior? Post it in the comments below. I would love to create a post at the end of the week with advice from the Successify community! ***