I'll be honest, these words almost weren't going to see the light of day! I wrote them at graduation time & as they didn't get posted then, I almost put them in the "scrap" folder. However. IMHO, these words are still relevant & not just to graduates. And. High school grads are just going off or getting ready for college. College grads may be confronted with their first September where "back to school" isn't the theme, so maybe now is a good time for this...Who am I to say?
Have goals that you are marching towards. You can have career goals, money goals, fitness goals, relationship goals, etc. It doesn’t really matter what the goal is, nor do you need to marry yourself to the goal. It’s ok if it changes & you choose a new goal. We are always changing & learning more about ourselves, the world. Don’t be afraid to change your goals & don’t be afraid to declare or make goals for fear that they will change. Goals ignite us and keep us moving forward. Those people you see walking around, looking like they have their itsh together? They have goals. They know where they are going, they know why they need to do what they need to do. They work out, eat healthy or go above & beyond at work with some sort of smile, because they know there is payoff, they know they are doing it all for a reason. Goals get us up in the morning and keep us moving through the day. So, have goals.
Take stock of your age & time. Do not believe or think that things will get easier as you get older, they do not. If there is a risk you want to take or something you want to try, or you think there is a different path for you, do it in youth. It is true that most of us get wiser as we age and gain more life experience. First,, it may not seem like it but the body deteriorates. I know, you think that’s just something really old people say, that won’t be you. Trust me, I know. I’m still determined to live a VERY long time. But recovery from activity gets older and you do become more susceptible to injury & sickness the older you get. Second, you also get used to the increased money or vacation or personal or other cushy “working for the man” job perks; these become bigger obstacles, harder to give up the longer you have them & the larger they become. This happens regardless of the amount of responsibility you also take on as you age: kids, dogs, houses, cars, boats, etc. These amazing things don’t make change easier, or, rather they typically increase the impact of the risk. Related, the younger you are if you want to step back into your profession, the easier it will be. It’s not right, but the older you get, the more people worry about how adaptable, flexible and open you are, as well as how rusty your skillset is. If you leave your “profession” at twenty-five to try something different and realize you want to go back to it at thirty, it will be much easier than “losing” the same five years from forty-five to fifty. Again, it may not be right & hopefully it will change, but everybody’s running a business. Lastly, this life experience that provides wisdom can also come with strings. The learnings typically don’t come from rainbow & sunshine days; they can often come from hardship and tough experiences. At most you may lose loved ones & realize how precious time with them is, at minimum you may see how often things don’t work out the way people thought they would or how hard life can be at time. This magnifies that risk you want to take.
Slow down & pay attention. Yes, you should slow down & smell the roses. That is great advice. You do only get this one life, after all. But also pay attention to yourself and your life experience. How happy are you? What makes you happy? Is there enough of it? What do you repeatedly say? Does it mean anything? What do you repeatedly do? What is there for you to look at? As mentioned, we only get one life and very often we speed through our twenties and at least a good portion of our thirties before we pause and notice our patterns, what we’re “looking for” or what would make us really happy. I had been saying that I love helping people grow, FOR YEARS before I realized coaching would give me opportunity to focus more on that. I had been saving money in case I was without a job, since the moment I got my first job. I had no idea that’s not how other people were living & it could be a sign. I waited much longer than my friends or peers to buy a house and put down roots. When I did, I picked something that was temporary and could be easily removed from my life with little loss. Again, another sign that I wanted something else, or that what was in front of me, wasn’t what I really wanted. I encourage you to do the same. Reflect at least annually on your actions and experiences to see what your subconscious knows.
I'd love to hear what advice you have for grads or what you thought of my advice via comment or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).