Commencement: 11 things I wish I’d learned sooner

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CommencementTo commence something means to begin it. For students who are graduating, their commencement exercises are the beginning of what’s next.

When I graduated from high school, in 1963, I knew something about what was next for me. I was taking the summer to work and play, but I had already enlisted in the Marines. I knew the date I would head for boot camp. That was about it.

What I didn’t know then was that many of life’s important lessons were still in front of me. That’s probably how it was for you, too. And it’s probably the way it will be for my two oldest grandsons, Theodore and Diego, who are graduating from high school this month.

Here are eleven things I’ve learned since graduation that I wish I’d learned sooner.

Cherish relationships with those who care about you and lift you up. They will sustain you when everything turns to crap.

You will have good luck and you will have bad luck. Everyone does. What will determine how things come out is how you deal with your luck.

There are no shortcuts. Everything that’s really good in life takes work and commitment and time. You have to do the work and you have to do it every day, even when you’re sick or tired or just don’t want to.

You will make many career choices in life. Don’t make those choices based on money or benefits or fame. The effects of those things only last a little while and won’t sustain you in hard times. Instead, go for work you enjoy with people you like that pays you enough.

Pick a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for yourself. Remind yourself of it every day. Resolve to make a little progress toward it every day.

Spend a little time every day, planning what you want to get done. Fifteen minutes of planning and a to do list every day will improve the odds you will make progress that day.

You will make a lot of decisions in your life. You’ll make better ones if you develop the habit of running your choices through some kind of simple analysis. There are several techniques on the site Problem-Solving-Techniques but I’m linking to the Ben Franklin method because it works and it’s super simple.

Be frugal. Live within your means. Save your money. Save some for emergencies. Save some to help you accomplish your big goal. Save some for the long term future.

Nobody can tell your intentions. People will judge you by what you say and what you do.

There are some phrases that will make your life easier and richer. Try to say “Thank you” and “I love you” and “I don’t understand” and “May I help you” a lot.

No matter how bad life can be at times, there are always good things. Take some time every day to remember the good things and be grateful for them.

Some Great Commencement Speeches

Every year some great people give great commencement speeches. Here are four I like a lot

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