Dave Sather offers some tips for the class of 2013
As the clouds parted and the beautiful Texas sky opened up, I watched nearly half of my students graduate from Texas Lutheran University on Saturday evening. Never one to pass an opportunity to give an opinion, I shared some final thoughts with my graduates:
Well, you screwed up - you graduated. Now, you have to deal with the "real world." Remember, I warned you. However, before you go, my sincerest congratulations and a few last words of questionable wisdom:
No one owes you anything. You must make your way in life. The easiest way to get ahead is to show up early, stay late and ask "What else can I do to help out?" Those are the people who stay employed. You don't have to be the smartest to accomplish this - just put forth the effort.
Life is a game of everlasting learning. Even though you graduated, there are never-ending learning opportunities. Embrace the opportunities, as knowledge and wisdom are geometrically cumulative. However, once you stop learning, it is game over.
You will make mistakes. We all do. All that matters is how you deal with them. A mistake is only a problem if you fail to learn from it.
There will be many short-term hurdles. Deal with them logically, but focus on the long term. Set short-term goals as well as long-term goals and review them once a year.
Be disciplined, knowing what you want to accomplish. Assess where you want your life to be 10 years out. Track your goals accomplished and set new goals. Give yourself something to reach for.
Reply to people within 24 hours - if not sooner. The biggest problems in the world occur from poor communication.
Live below your means. Society repeatedly tells us we need to drive a certain car, live in a high-dollar neighborhood, etc. Material things will never love you, but they can put immense pressure upon you. This can harm a marriage, challenge our ethics and bring about a variety of health issues. Money provides flexibility but not happiness. Living below your means gives you options when unanticipated things happen.
Be flexible - things will change. I have famously said "I will never.(insert Dave's stupid statement of the day)." Be careful of things you say you will never do. Life will throw you many curve balls. It is up to you to rationally assess them and find opportunity in unexpected places.
Most of us will work in a relatively safe environment. The biggest risk I have most days is a paper cut. This will be true for most of us. As we get upset, remember that things are rarely life-threatening. As such, think logically and stay disciplined. However, if something is truly life-threatening, act quickly.
Life is short - find your passion. You have a fantastic gift in your brain and your ability. Use it in an endeavor that motivates you to get out of bed and push hard every day. Do not do something merely for the money.
Have fun. Laughter is wonderful medicine for a variety of ailments.
Make the world a better place. You have the distinct ability to make a bad world a much better place. The evening news has nonstop stories of what is wrong with the world. You, on the other hand, have the ability to make a positive change in the world around you.
If you place the needs of others first, you will find you avoid ethical problems and sleep with a smile on your face. You will also find that immense rewards trickle down to you. Life is boring if it only benefits you - so rise to this challenge.
Stay in contact with your classmates, as they can be a needed source of support, encouragement and opportunity.
Best of luck to the class of 2013.
Dave Sather is a Victoria certified financial planner and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other Wednesday.