I am graduating from college in two weeks and I am nervous about my future. What advice can you give me to avoid the most common mistakes that most grads make after graduating? ~ Ashley, Minneapolis, MI
First off, congratulations on your upcoming milestone!
I can understand why you and so many of your 2013 classmates are probably feeling a little scared and uncertain right now. One cannot open a newspaper or turn on a television today without reading or listening to the growing concerns about the future of the U.S. economy. In addition, there has been so much negativity and speculation projected upon your generation, but the truth is, these are incredibly exciting times for you.
Like the college graduates of the late 1960s who also faced an uncertain and changing America, your generation is filled with the pioneers of this new technological and global era. Sadly, many young adults today feel paralyzed and ill-prepared to become financially independent because the majority of their parents and teachers lacked the needed knowledge to impart such crucial information. This might be what compelled you to write to me with your question. As a result, you are being forced to challenge and question the previous generational misinformation you have been provided, if any, in order to find new and improved ways to succeed and thrive on your own terms.
‘Emerging adults’ like you must now take the needed steps to educate yourselves so you can avoid the very financial pitfalls that are currently plaguing so many older adults between the ages of 40-60. I’m sure you see them in the world you live in every day, and I’m sure you don’t want to grow up to experience the same financial hardships.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”
If I were your university’s commencement speaker, I would offer you and your graduating class the following advice:
Don’t be afraid to dream and pursue the life YOU love. My philosophy for success is simple: “Do what you love every day of your life while surrounding yourself with those positive people that love and support you.”
The main reason why so many people seem to fail and never achieve success is because they either lack the necessary information and tools to succeed, or they simply succumb to their fears and never make any real efforts to ever get out of their negative comfort zones.
As I said earlier, don’t be afraid to question your “learned” negative fears and emotions. It’s okay to make mistakes and to ask why when someone gives you a suggestion or guidance. That is how one ultimately breaks free of their ‘status quo’ existence.
Unless you learn how to manage these challenges from an early age, they will become harder and harder to fix and correct as you get older.
So how does one go about creating oneself for life-long success?
1. Understand that there is a difference between a goal and a dream. A lot of people often confuse their dreams for goals. Unlike a dream, a goal will require some sort of action to be taken within a predetermined period of time in order to be achieved. Dreams are for bedtime; goals and desires are for success!
2. Do not focus on the negative! Nothing kills a goal or desire faster than negativity! You should never be swayed from trying to achieve your goals or desires because someone tells you “you can’t do something.” You want to always keep your eyes open and see the reality you want and not the reality or shortcomings of others you are willing to settle for.
3. Create a specific action plan for achieving your goals and success NOW! You need to start by being very clear about WHAT YOU WANT to achieve and what specific actions you are willing to take to achieve those goals. You must take the time to create a vision and identify a purpose for your success and goals (e.g. action steps) in order to achieve the positive outcomes you are running after.
For example, to become financially independent, you must create a realistic spending budget that allows you to track all income you make and the expenses you have on a daily/weekly/monthly and annual basis. This will enable you to create good money habits from the start so that you do not overspend. This will also help you learn to live within your means. I also strongly recommend that you start to put aside at least 10% of your monthly income toward future savings.
Clearly defined goals will dramatically enhance your odds for success. It’s imperative that you start taking responsibility for your own actions and decisions immediately. This is the best way for you to grow your success so you can achieve your financial goals and avoid the very financial pitfalls that have derailed some many older adults.
Positively Growing Your Success,