It’s the time of year for Pomp and Circumstance. The rite of passage has proud parents across the country straining to find their child in a sea of caps and gowns. The recent flood of postings on social media celebrating both college and high school graduations, has caused me to become a bit reflective. If I could time travel back to my own commencement, what would I say to the younger me?

  1. Do your best no matter what your job. Your current job is likely not your dream job but, it might be a critical step on the path to that dream job of yours. Do your best, be respectful, and dependable, always. Treat every job as though your dream job depends upon it. People notice, doors open and, future opportunities come out of today’s efforts. Take for example Xerox’s CEO Ursula Burns, she started out as an intern. Her dedication and hard work paved her path taking her from intern to CEO.
  1. Don’t live life on a predetermined timeline. You don’t need to be married by 30 and have children by 35 or any other age. You may have friends that get married or have kids long before you. It’s ok! It is far better to wait for the right relationship than to get married, or choose other life steps because you think it’s “time.” Don’t live the life you think you are “supposed to live” rather truly live your life.
  1. Never stop learning. Learning doesn’t stop once you’ve gotten your diploma. To get the most out of life, continue to learn and grow at all ages. Take advantage of professional development opportunities at your work. Explore new hobbies outside of work. And, don’t be afraid to try new things.
  1. The best lessons and the best opportunities are often hidden in “failures.” Disappointments will be part of your journey. You can allow them to break you or you can allow them to propel you. The choice is yours. When something doesn’t turn out the way you wish it had, step back and see how you can learn from it or how it might launch you on a better path. I was once laid off from a job I loved after 17 years. Instead of allowing it to devastate me, I went back to college, got my master’s degree, published a book, and changed careers. My lost job opened a new door with fabulous opportunities I’d never trade!
  1. Seek feedback from trusted or respected sources. Proactively ask “What can I do to improve?” or “How could I do this differently to get an even better result?” Opening communications for feedback will help you become a better version of you. You will encounter people who know more than you. Tap their knowledge so that you can grow. The future you will be glad you did. 
  1. Find something to be grateful about every single day. Even on your worst day, you have something to be grateful for. Before your head hits the pillow at night, recall three things you are thankful for that day. In research studies, psychologist have found participants who find three things to be thankful for each day have an immediate increase in happiness measures. Don’t you want to be happier? Take time to be thankful. It works!

I can’t time travel back to encourage younger me but, I can continue to share the lessons I’ve learned over the years. I’m happy to say that I’ve become a lifelong learner and I do work to be grateful even on the days when it feels hardest to do. I refuse to let a bad five minutes ruin an entire day, and to interpret a bad day to mean the week, year, or my life is awful – because it’s not! Enjoy life. Live it! Celebrate your milestones and victories. And, if you’ve just graduated, Congratulations!!

Or, if you like me have a few years between you and your commencement, what wisdom would you share with younger you? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Susan Call - Author

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