We’ve published similar posts to this, at the beginning of a school year. Yet, it has been four years, since the last one was published. I love music and to quote the band Bon Jovi, “it’s my life, and it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just want to live while I’m alive”. What wonderful advice, to live, but most of us would like to live with the freedom that accompanies financial success – as you define it. After thirty years in this education business, I’ve seen some common practices that help young people begin to truly live, by becoming serious about their long-run plan for financial success.
- Write your personal values statement – Take some time and make a list of the values you embrace. One-word statements of what you’d like your life to be. Our University Health Care System states that their “culture is based upon patient-centered care driven by the core values of respect, integrity, fairness, openness, excellence, accountability and performance”. Once they began to speak openly about these values, the hospital’s patient satisfaction scores went from the lowest 20% to the highest 10%! Once you begin to tell people what you want to become, you begin to be what you seek.
- Set goals – Do you have set goals for the school year? Greater grade point average? Improved athletic performance? Never missing a class? Joining a student group and, perhaps, becoming an officer in the organization? Visualize reaching these goals and write your goals down. Tell others about them. Send me an email with them written down (firstname.lastname@example.org). Then, make your daily decisions support your goals.
- Get connected to your industry – Do you have an idea about what you’d like to do for work? If so, find someone in that line of work and ask them if you can interview them about their life’s work. See if you can job-shadow them for a day. If a career feels right, look for a mentor to help you with the choices you are going to make over the next few months and years. Do an internship. Do two internships! Allow yourself to “test drive” an occupation. You will learn a lot about yourself and a company, from four to eight weeks of life experience in their world.
- Attend a professional conference. – Perhaps expensive but, if there is a meeting with many professionals present that are engaged in the line of work you’re pursuing, go to the meeting. Be aware of local, inexpensive opportunities. When you attend, talk to people. Ask someone to dance. (This is code for “not being afraid to talk to people and ask them to help you.” Surprising as it might sound, if you don’t ask people to dance, they won’t dance with you. Never forget that “old-folks” like to help “young’uns”.)
- Visit a local Rotary, Lion’s, Optimist, Knights of Columbus, or other civic club – While you’re there, ask to be introduced to someone in the line of work you wish to enter. Try to begin a relationship that leads to opportunities for personal growth. Don’t be afraid of helping with a service project. Times spent in service solidify relationships among professionals.
- Identify a weakness – Everybody has at least one weakness they’d like to improve. Perhaps, yours is public speaking. If so, practice speaking, until you are confident. Writing? Then, write letters to your friends. Improve your emails. Seek help from your teachers. Dress? Go to a workshop on professional etiquette and dress. Ask for some pointers from a quality clothing store. Diet? Improve it. Weight? Lose it. Exercise? Do it.
I’m sure there are many more we could list but I think you see the point. Each year, the start of a school year is a new start. At the start of a year, we are in a new environment with different classmates, new roommates, and other relationships. This can allow you to be the person you want to be, rather than the one that others expect you to be. Besides, you’ve been that person for years! So, if you’re ready to be the person you want to be, you’re where you belong…in the beginning and, yes, you “ain’t going to live forever”. But don’t despair. You truly matter and you can make the choice to make a difference in your world. In the process, you improve my world. Together, we improve our world. Not a bad goal.