What’s Next in Your Life?

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It’s graduation season. This year, the graduations are not virtual. Students, clutching their degrees and diplomas, take their bows. Parents beam.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the ceremonies we’re talking about go by two different names. “Graduation” is one. The other is “commencement.” Students and their loved ones stand in a moment of time. Graduation gives them the reward for work they’ve done and things they’ve learned. But commencement? Commencement is the looking ahead to what’s next.

Every end is also a beginning. The new graduates probably aren’t thinking of it so much that way. But you should. Every so often, it’s a good idea to assess your life so far and think about what’s next.

Look Back

Look back at your life journey. Every year, that road gets just a little bit longer.

What have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What lessons have you learned that guide your life today and possibly in the future? Who are the important people in your life?

What has your whole life prepared you to do next?

Look Around

Think about where you are today. This is a good time to assess your life. There are lots of areas you can pay attention to. Make a list that’s relevant for you. I think you should assess your relationships, your financial condition, and your professional or career situation. Add any other things you think are important.

Look Ahead

Maybe what you’re going to do next is a continuation of the road you’ve been on for a while. That’s fine. Maybe you want to change to something different. That’s fine, too.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, now would be a good time to start moving in that direction. You don’t necessarily have to make a big jump. A baby step or two will take you in the new direction and feel good.  Go for the small wins that add up to big wins.

My life philosophy, which I offer to you, is simple. You need to make enough money doing something you love. Enough money means different things to different people. Sometimes you must adjust what is “enough” so that you can do something you love. Teachers probably need to adjust “enough” down a bit so they can do what they love.

Love the work. Whether you’re thinking about taking a new job or continuing with the one you’ve got, make the decision based on whether you love the work. All the other things – money, prestige, etcetera – fall away after a few days. Then, you’re left with work to do. If you love it, your days will be rich. If you don’t, you’ll live through a self-chosen hell.

When To Do This

Do a self-assessment like this once a year. I found that holiday time or summer are good times because I can set aside a week to think about things. When you assess where you are every year you can make small course corrections. It’ smore likely to keep you on a track you like.

Do it when circumstances change. The universe has a way of blowing our great plans or the status quo out of the water. As the saying goes, “We plan. God laughs.”

If that happens to you, take the time to assess before you decide what’s next. There could be great opportunity hiding in what seems like disaster. Remember all the people who say, “It seemed awful at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me.


Every end is also a beginning.

Look back at accomplishments, lessons learned, and important people.

What has your whole life prepared you to do next?

Look around at the state of your life today.

Look ahead at what’s next.

Love the work.

Do this once a year or when circumstances change.

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