Advice for the Class of 2015

Congratulations, Class of 2015.

Graduates, welcome to the rest of your life.

This is where the official blueprint ends and you get to draw your own.

          You can build a life as beautiful, meaningful and fulfilling as you want. It will be both scary and exciting. Everything worthwhile is.

          You will stumble. You will fall. You will get messy. And right there, tucked in the biggest mess, you’ll find the magic and miracles that make living worthwhile.

          Here are ten tips for the journey:

Take the “just” out of your job title. No matter where you end up working, it’s important work. Maybe not to you, but it is to the customers, clients, co-workers and the person who hired you. There’s no such thing as “just” a job. Too often people say, “I’m ‘just’ a teacher...I’m ‘just’ a nurse. I’m ‘just’ a social worker.” Every job is as magical as you make it.

If you’re going to doubt anything, doubt your doubts. Instead of saying, “I can’t find a job” start telling yourself and everyone else, “I am ready to find the job of my dreams. Bring. It. On.” Instead of saying, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” start saying, “I am excited to know what to do with my life.” Instead of telling yourself, “I don’t know what to do,” start with what you do know. 

Just take the next right step: Take the action you know to take. You don’t need a leap of faith, just one step. Taking simple, focused action will propel you forward. Make the call. Send the e-mail. Fix your resume.

Get rid of your big but. Actually get rid of your biggest but. We all have a big but that stops us. Yeah, but… I don’t have a degree in that. Yeah, but…I don’t have any experience. Yeah, but… I can’t use LinkedIn, Excel, PowerPoint. Yeah, but…I’m not good with statistics, technology, machinery. Get out of your own way.

Become teachable: Have the humility to ask for help. Become a student of life. Ask questions. There is an endless supply of people to teach you anything you need to know. If you don't ask, you don't get. If you don’t ask, the answer is “no.” You already gave it to yourself. If the answer is “no,” turn it into a maybe. Or thank it and move on.

Fail forward: When things fall apart, they could be falling into place. Failure doesn’t have to hold you back, it can propel you forward. Not getting into graduate school could be a gift. Not getting that job you wanted in Chicago could lead you to something better.

Stop struggling: I love the quote, “Nothing you want is upstream.” Pay attention to what comes easy to you, because it doesn’t come easy to everyone else. Your divine assignment has your name on it, no one else’s. When you live the life you alone were created to live, there is no competition. There’s enough for everyone and no reason to struggle.

 Align yourself first, then take action: Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re moving forward. Action without focus wastes precious time. Most people don’t find their dream job randomly online. They find it because they aligned themselves on the inside first with what they truly wanted, then connected with the right people already in their life.

Own your life: It’s up to you to launch your life. Not your parents, your next boss or anyone else. Take 100 percent responsibility for your own success. Stop believing that you’re being held back and you will move forward.

Enjoy the ride. When you don’t get what you want, you get something better. It’s called experience. Tucked in every messy job are miracle moments that will shape the rest of your life. There’s no such thing as a dead-end job. Every job is brimming with life lessons to lead you closer to what you want to be.

          The bottom line is this: regardless of your age or experience, the state of the economy or the job market, you have the power to expand, enrich and deepen your own life and the lives of others.

          Congratulations. Your life is now yours.

          Own it.