To the graduating class of 2018

One again, it is the time of year that high school seniors are gradating with many heading off to college.  It is also the time of the year that college students are graduating and are about to enter the world.  Every year at this time I think of my graduation from high school and the future that awaited me.  I also think about all the lessons in life I have learned in my life that has expanded my wisdom.  If I could give a commence speech to the graduation class of 2018, I know exactly what wisdom I have gained from life I would want to impart onto their hearts and minds.

Always believe in yourself

Since you were very young, many of you have always had older people giving you confidence to try new things.

It probably started when you were a toddler.  When you first tried to stand and walk, your parents or guardians probably told you “I know you can do it” as they clapped an cheered after you took your first few steps.

As you grew more people started to believe in you.  At first it may have been extended family, then your pre-school teachers, your kindergarten teacher, grade school, middle school and high school teachers, coaches, mentors, advisors, school counselors, the list goes on.

All those people believed in you to get your started in life.  Now it is your turn.  If you have not already started, the time is now for you to believe in yourself.  Believe that you can accomplish anything you set out to do in life.

This school has given you to the tools to succeed in your career.  it is now your job to take the tools you have gained from the past 13 or more years of schooling and mix it in with a healthy dose of self-confidence and make your mark on the world.

Find what you are passionate about doing and go and do it!

Many of you have known since you were a small child what you wanted to be when you grew up.  While others figured that out during your time in high school.  Yet, there are probably a small number of you who are sitting there waiting for your diploma and saying “what am I going to do with that diploma I have earned?”

For those of you who have worked through many options to choose a path for yourself know it is no easy task.  For those of you who are sitting there wondering what to do with your life also know the task before you is daunting.

After all, choosing a career is one of those decisions in life that will have a long-lasting impact on your future.  It will determine how much money you can earn.  Where you live.  Who you peers will be.  Just to name a few impacts this decision will have on your future.

I urge you not to make this decision lightly.  Do not make this decision based upon what your friends tell you to do.  Do not make this decision based upon the choices your friends are making. Most importantly, do not make this decision based upon how much money you could earn in your lifetime.

Money does not buy happiness.

The best way to make this decision is to answer two questions:

The first question is “what do you do that makes you happy?”

I am not talking about hanging out with friends, dating, going to a baseball game or playing video games all night.  None of those activities, although joyful, will bring in a paycheck.

I am talking about what kind of work makes you happy?  Is it working with your hands?  Is it working with computers?  Is it working in the office or outdoors?

Once you have an answer to that question, the second question is “what are you passionate about doing?”

Your answer should not be hanging out with friends, dating, going to a baseball game or playing video games all night.  Once again, none of those activities, although joyful, will bring in a paycheck.

Is your answer helping others?  building wealth?  Working with kids?  Advocating for a cause?

Whatever your answer is to the second question be sure to do your best at merging it with your answer to the first question.  That is the best way I know to find a carrier that will make you happy.  If you are happy at your job, you will have a happy life and if you get married a happy family life.

Be willing to pay it forward

As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people have believed in you the first 18 years of your life.  A lot of people looked out for you and cared about you.  Some of the people who cared about you, you know who they are while others who cared you do not know they cared.  You have had teachers, coaches, and others invest hundreds of hours into making you into the person you are today.  Protecting you from harm and guiding you when you strayed off course.

There is no need to seek each one of them out and personally thank them.  The best way you can thank them is to pay it forward.

As you travel through life you will have countless opportunities to make a difference in young peoples’ lives.  Be supportive of your children.  Be kind to the neighbor’s kids.  Coach a youth team.  Be a mentor to a kid or a big brother or big sister.

Always find a way to repay those who made a difference in your life by making a difference in the lives of the future generations.

But today is your day.  This moment is yours!  Enjoy it!  You have earned it!  Congratulations to the class of 2018 – now go out and make the world a better place for future generations!