Advice for Graduating Seniors: 9 things I would tell Myself if I Could Go Back
As we enter summer in a year where most people can not wait until it comes to an end, millions of high schoolers are graduating and thinking about and planning their next moves. Over the last month I was asked several times what advice I would give kids graduation high school, especially this year. This got me thinking. What advice I wish I was given when I graduated? Would the advice be different in a year like this? I quickly realized that the advice would be the same five years ago as it would be today and it would be the same five years from now. The fundamentals don’t change while the specific might because of technology, trends and the events taking place throughout the globe. So, if you have a child that is graduating high school now or is in college, these are my top advice for them.
The best friends that you have right now, the ones that mean so much to you? Most of them will quickly become acquaintances or even strangers. People move on with their lives and move beyond their pasts. You will gain new friends and confidants in new fields and arenas, some at a job and some in college. Losing those past relationships can be painful, yet it will happen. Focus on creating a circle of friends that are smarter, more driven and more motivated than you to be successful in life. People in your life usually fall into three categories. Those you look up to. Those you feel are equal to you and those who look up to you. The more people you look up to and have access to, the easier your road to success will be.
Experiences Over Things
When you are forty, fifty, sixty and beyond, you will not remember most of the things you spent money on but the memories live with you forever. Focus on creating lasting and positive memories with the people you love and not wasting money on excessive material things. They will not bring you lasting happiness.
You parents and family members want the best for you, and this often comes packaged in ‘safe advice.’ While they truly mean well, sometimes you need to take a risk to find the greater rewards – just think it through before you take the plunge. Sure, when you jump you can fall and get hurt but if you don’t jump now and take risks when your level of responsibilities are extremely low, it will only become harder and harder to take risks as you get older and the real world piles on your responsibilities that come with being an adult.
You live in a world where social media followers and likes dominate how we instantly measure someone's impact and influence. While this is true and social media is a powerful tool, it is just a tool. No matter what tools you use, measure your life by the number of people you help and impact positively. You will always be one step ahead of others which means you can help people that are one step behind you. Don’t assume you need to be a world expert in a topic to be able to help others.
Find Your Passion
If you are studying a field that doesn’t bring you joy, re-consider this choice now. It is a lot easier to change careers early in college than at the end and it gets even harder when you start working in that industry. For some of you, college might not even be the best choice. If you already have the entrepreneurial mindset, have a great business idea and means to start it, go for it now. It will be the best business education that a college degree can’t provide. If a year from now your business venture fails, the college or university you were going to attend is still there.
Get a Job in Sales
If you need to get a job to pay for college and your bills, get a job in sales. I’m not referring to retail sales. I mean a true sales job where you need to identify leads, show them how you can help them with a problem and close a sale. This can be online sales or door to door sales. The lessons you will learn, the thick skin you will build because of all the No’s you hear and the communication and people skills you will gain will help you for the rest of your life.
Credit Cards Are Bad
You might be tempted to sign up for the credit card offers coming your way now that you are considered an adult. Sure, you need to start building your credit score but most of you don’t have the financial discipline yet to charge on the card a reasonable amount each month and pay it all off at the end of each month. Instead, what usually happens is you start with good intention to pay it off and next thing you know a $5000 limit credit card is maxed out. This will cause unnecessary stress and set you back. Avoid credit cards as long as you can.
Things Will Not Go As Planned
Over the last 2 decades we have had recessions caused by the internet bubble, worst terror attack on US soil, a recession caused by the housing crisis and a recession caused by a once in a century pandemic. It is extremely important that you have a plan and set goals but know that you can not control external events. What is important for you to know is that events that cause economic turmoil are actually wealth building opportunities for those that acknowledge such events will happen and plan for them. To be prepared, save money and be ready to strike when the stock markets crash. Be a student of the market and study its history and trends so when things don’t go as planned, you still remain in the game.
Lastly, Have Fun
Life is an adventure, and it is the only one you’ve got. Be smart with your choices, but make sure you take time to have fun as well. No one’s life should be all about work and school – that just leads to depression and stagnation. Enjoy this time.
If you have other valuable advice drop them in the comment box.
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