May 192016 2 Responses

7 Tips for Today’s Graduates

I only remember one major aspect of my high school graduation–the person I sat beside. Seated in alphabetical order, I found myself next to someone I never had much interaction with in my three years in high school. He was a Special Olympics star, but that is all I knew about him. That night, I greatly enjoyed experiencing the evening with him–watching his excitement, assisting him through the process, and celebrating alongside him.

It was such an accidental aspect of the evening that became the most memorable part. I don’t remember what was said in the speeches or even who spoke. I do remember that I wasn’t chosen to speak (just so you know, this website was not the beginning of me writing things that others didn’t like. In high school, the person in charge of graduation speakers didn’t like something I wrote and when it came time to choose a speaker, he let me know about it).

While I don’t remember what was said at my graduation, I do have a good idea of what I would say to today’s graduates. As a pastor, I see what causes people to stumble in life. I get a front-row view of what is really meaningful or damaging. It’s one reason I wrote the book You Turn.

Here are 7 Recommendations for Today’s Graduates:

1. Don’t wait on faith. It’s tempting to think big issues like God and faith can wait for another day, but don’t risk it. Life can take a dramatic shift at any moment. While you can find God in those moments, it’s better to already know Him. Build your foundation now, because you don’t know what lies ahead. (See: How to Come Back to Faith)

2. Build a meaningful life. Notice the word “build.” Much of your life will be a result of your actions. Choose wisely. The world owes you very little. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you. Do the work necessary to build the life you want. This requires intention and effort. Think about. Figure it out. And go get it.

3. Nourish healthy relationships. Much of what will determine your life satisfaction will be your relationships. Seek out emotionally healthy people. Work on your own emotional health. Protect good relationship and be quick to get rid of bad relationships. (See: Three Loves to Change Your Life)

4. Take personal responsibility for your life. Many things happen to you which are not your fault, but you have to take responsibility for how you will respond to them. While blaming others is easy, it doesn’t fix the effects of what has happened. You have to own who you are, what has shaped you, and how you will move forward.

5. Be addicted to nothing and in debt to no one. Few things will stunt your life like addiction or debt. It’s okay to have a reasonable amount of student debt, but nothing unreasonable and no other debt. Addiction is a whole other story. The most defining factor I can see between classmates in the 20 years since graduation are those who struggled with addiction and those who didn’t. While addiction can be overcome, it’s better to be avoided.

6. Become a good habit machine. Never has any generation lived in a time in which so much was understood about how good habits are formed and maintained. Become an expert on the process and then apply it to your life. Pick a skill, learn, determine a course of action, and turn it into a habit. Then repeat.

7. Seek the good and express gratitude. Most of the time, you will find what you look for. Seek the bad and you will find the bad. Seek the good and you will find the good. This doesn’t mean you won’t experience negative things because we all do. Yet if you have the power to see the good even in the midst of the bad, you will have a tremendous amount of perseverance and grace. As you see the good, give thanks to God and others for what they have done. (See: Gratitude–A Simple Way to Better Your Day)

These seven tips won’t guarantee a great life, but they will sure give you a head start. Any one of these can greatly change your life and all seven will send you in the right direction toward living a life you will love.

For a good gift for graduates, consider You Turn. To make it better, give it to graduates with the promise you will pay them $5 for every chapter they read.

2 Responses to 7 Tips for Today’s Graduates
  1. lliwbelac Reply

    Kevin, would you not recommend a mortgage?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s a great question. I support a mortgage, but probably less often than most people get one. This article was aimed at high school graduates so I wasn’t thinking about a mortgage. Sorry for the confusion.

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