A couple years ago I was asked to come back to my high school and talk to the graduating students about what life was like after high school.  Here's what I had...

Proms are happening and grad parties are being planned. It's graduation time. Yup, it's that time when a new group of young adults hangs up their backpacks and either enters the workforce or moves on to higher educational institutions.

If I could pass on a bit of advice to those graduating seniors, what would it be?

This year, it's a little different.  This year, my daughter is actually one of those graduating seniors.  It's already been a tough couple of weeks as we prepare for life around the house without my little girl.  We're ridiculously proud of her and want her to experience all that life has to offer.  But it's sad that it feels like for her to do that, she has to leave us and truly stand on her own two feet for the first time in forever.

This is the advice I had for those seniors at my high school alma mater a few years ago.  Crazy enough, I think they're still useful today.  This advice is based on my personal experience over the years, and their lives and circumstances may be different than mine. However, these are the things that I learned after I left high school, and I thought I’d share my list with them.

  1. Money is NOT everything. Enjoying your life is what really counts. There will be decisions that you will have to make that will test you. Always think about your happiness first.
  2. If you want something, go and get it. Don’t wait for it to come to you. You might find that you’re waiting a whole long longer than you have to.
  3. Promisory notes and credit cards don’t go away by themselves. It's going to seem like you get free money for awhile, but unfortunately, they really do want you to pay back all that money...and they'll keep asking for as long as it takes to get every last penny back.
  4. Stay away from Ramen noodles. They’re delicious! But there’s nothing about them that’s good for you.
  5. If you are leaving for college and you can make it happen, live on campus. Some of the things you will learn there are much more valuable than what you will learn in the classroom.  Learning how to interact and coexist with people is a huge skill to add to your list.
  6. There are plenty of people who are very successful in this world that didn’t go to college. You don't HAVE to go to college. However, most of those people didn’t get where they are by wishing it would happen. Their success comes from incredible ideas and lots and lots of work.  You will have to work for it.
  7. Work hard. Eventually someone will see it, and it WILL pay off. Remember, if you put your name on something to make it your best work.
  8. If you visit the hometown of the guy in your dorm that is bragging about how great he was back in high school, chances are, he wasn’t as good as he wants you to believe he was.
  9. You might have better single moments in your life. You may have kids, you may get married, you might get a great job. But in many cases, these times that you’re having with your friends will be what you look back at as the good old days.  Enjoy them and try to remember every minute.
  10. Be persistent. Make people remember your name.

Whatever you do, remember to live your life the way that YOU want to live it. Just make sure that at the end of the day, when you lay your head on your pillow, that you can say that you are proud of what you have done.

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