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10 Things You Should Know Before Graduation

10 Things You Should Know Before Graduation

If you know these things before you graduate:

  • You may either decide not to graduate at all
  • Or you may graduate making more money than you thought you would by age 40.

1. You Will Likely Need To Unlearn A Lot Of Your Schooling

“The current (educational) structure, which seeks low-cost uniformity that meets minimum standards, is killing our economy, our culture, and us.”―Seth Godin

In the late 1800’s, schools were designed and intended to teach obedience. During the rise of our industrial age, big corporations needed workers for their factories.

The purpose of the academic system was the creation of obedient and compliant workers who never asked meaningful questions. The system was not created to produce scholars and thinkers for tomorrow. There were already tons of scholars at the time.

No. The big businesses needed laborers who would submissively do whatever they needed.

Thus, the creation of the standardized test. Our academic system itself becomes a factory to standardize all of the rising students to ensure they fit the desired mold. If the student failed the tests, they would be held back another year to try again.

Thus, the most frequently asked question in school: Will this be on the test?

Despite the fact that our world has dramatically changed since the late 1800’s, our school systems are structured the same way.

Despite the fact that we can all connect on the internet, there are 10,000 teachers giving the same lecture on a given day across the country. There’s something disturbingly wrong about this. Why don’t they all connect to the same lecture online performed by the best teacher on the subject?

The internet has changed the world. If you want to learn something, you don’t need to get an encyclopedia anymore. You can go to Wikipedia, or Youtube, or a million other places online. There are tons of programs that teach people how to learn things effectively at optimal speeds.

Not only does our model of education not make sense, but the structure of business has changed since the 1800’s as well.

The world is moving to an entrepreneurial and innovation driven economy. It is projected that by 2020, over one billion people will be working from their homes. In the future of work, less people will work for one company as generalists and instead will work for multiple companies as specialists.

The world doesn’t need obedient and compliant factory workers anymore. The world needs artists, creatives, hackers, and innovators. The world needs more emotion and relevance. We desire deeper connection. We’re done with apathetically living out our lives in school and at our 9-5 jobs. We’re sick of it. We’re done with it.

And the best part—the new economy wants it as well.

2. College Degrees Are Becoming Increasingly Irrelevant

“Five years from now, on the Web —for free—you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.”Bill Gates (in 2010)

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Far too many kids go to college because they don’t want to let their parents down. The parents have the 9-5 worldview and have perpetuated it to their children. The parents don’t realize the stark changes in the world and future of work. The parents don’t realize they are doing their children a huge disservice.

Whatever it is you want to learn, just know that college isn’t the only option. There are loads of online courses available—many for free.

The goal should be learning, not names on pieces of paper. If college is where you’re going to get the right education you need, then go there. If you can get it better, faster, and cheaper somewhere else, think twice.

The market doesn’t care if you have a degree or not. The market just wants your best work.

3. You Should Know If College Will Get You Where You Want To Go

“Cat: Where are you going? Alice: Which way should I go? Cat: That depends on where you are going. Alice: I don’t know. Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”―Lewis Carroll

And that’s the problem. So many people have no clue where their ideal destination in life is.

Do you know where you want to go?

Success is an intrinsic concept. It should be self-generated and not based on societal or cultural norms. You decide what you want in life, what makes you happy, and go for that.

In today’s world, college is probably not the most effective way to get where you want to go. All of the tools are in place to start doing what you want to do now. You just need to know what you want to do and have the courage to start.

With that said, college is absolutely the right place to be for many people. And the people that know this generally flourish while they are there. They are purposeful and focused. They are moving toward their ideal destination in life. College is the correct means for their desired ends.

You must ask yourself as Peter Thiel does—“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?”

There is always a better and faster path to your ideal than the one you’re taking. If you realize college isn’t for you, don’t stay in just because you’ve already put a lot of time and resources into it.

Psychologists have a term called sunk cost fallacy, which explains that people often make horrible decisions because they’ve already invested into a certain choice. Walk away. The further you continue the wrong direction, the longer it will take you to get back on your ideal path.

4. You Are Your Only Competition

“When everybody zigs, zag”—Marty Neumeier

If art, passion, authenticity, and innovation are the needed ingredients of the future, than you need to step away from comparing and competing with other people.

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Innovators stop competing and delve into uncharted territory. You are an innovator. You simply need to tap into your own unique identity, and dive into what makes you happy. You can create art and do work that no one else can do. You see the world in your own unique way—now show us that world.

Don’t get caught living other people’s dreams. Don’t lose yourself in the propaganda and agenda of society. Be you and everyone will be the benefactor—not the least of which is you.

Never forget these words from Oscar Wilde—“Everything popular is wrong.” Don’t follow the masses. It’s a long slow slog that won’t get you very far.

5. The Choices You Make Now Will Impact The Rest Of Your Life

“’…Your twenties: the decade of decision.’ Amen.”—David Archuleta

Your twenties are your decade of decision. These years in large measure dictate the rest of your life.

Who do you want to be?

What kind of work do you want to do?

What kind of lifestyle do you want to have?

What kind of people do you want to spend time with?

When life gets more complicated, and you have more responsibilities, you won’t have the same flexibility you have now. It will be harder to adjust your path. Right now, you can go whichever direction you want.

6. You Shouldn’t Wait Until After College To Do All You Want To Do

“Professor Harold Hill: You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.”―Meredith Willson

In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss teaches what he terms, the deferred-life plan. The essence of this idea is waiting to live. It is best expressed in the concept of retirement. So many people defer the life of their dreams until retirement. They defer happiness. They consciously live a life they despise.

You don’t have to do this.

You don’t need permission to start living your dreams. You don’t need a college degree to give you permission either. You are the gatekeeper to living your own life to the fullest.

Gary Vaynerchuck has said that in your 20’s and 30’s, you should be taking huge risks in your career. Maybe, when you hit age 40, you should start getting more conservative. At that point, you will likely have more responsibilities and need to think differently.

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But right now, while you’re in college, there is zero risk. Not only is there no risk, but you have tons of time! College does not require 40 hours per week. Chances are, you have 20-30 hours per week you could put into your dreams if you want.

Actually, college is the best time to become an entrepreneur. If you play your cards right, you could become successful enough that you can quit school. Or, by the time you graduate, you could be earning more money doing your own thing than you could have at an entry level job.

It doesn’t take that much time to build a lucrative online business anymore. If you put a solid year or two in, you could be wildly successful doing exactly what you want.

7. There Are Two Worlds Of Work

Dan Sullivan of Strategic coach has explained this far more beautifully than I ever could. For this reason, I will provide a long quote of his.

“At the turn of the last century, factories revolutionized the way goods were produced and delivered to the public. With factory work came a different attitude toward workers. They were parts in a machine and could be replaced. While they were working, it was necessary to ensure that things ran as uniformly and predictably as possible. Every day’s work was the same, and compensation was given in exchange for the length of time worked. Working long hours was a sign of loyalty. In sum, theirs was a bureaucratic time system. I call it “The Time-and-Effort Economy.”

Today, bureaucratic systems are breaking down. Advances in technology have radically shifted our thinking, emphasizing the limitless creative potential of the individual. Entrepreneurs are on the leading edge of this trend, stepping free from old structures to innovate and create value with greater speed and adaptability than lumbering institutions, which are focused on perpetuating themselves rather than serving their markets. Entrepreneurs live in what I call “The Results Economy.”

They get paid only for the results they produce, based on the value these results create for their clients and customers. Theirs is an entrepreneurial time system. Why, then, do so many entrepreneurs still operate as if it mattered how long or how hard they work? An unhealthy notion of virtue has become attached to burnout, regardless of whether the long hours have produced any results. This thinking completely misses the point of being an entrepreneur, which is freedom. One world of work is the industrial factory model that the academic system funnels people into. Be incredibly weary of this world of work. You will lose your soul. This is the 9-5 model. You will spend your time doing someone else’s agenda. You will be the slave to your boss. You will not have a lot of freedom or flexibility in your schedule.”

Which world of work will you choose? The Time-and-Effort Economy or The Results Economy?

8. You Might Be Pursuing A Shadow Dream—Which Would Be Bad

“We tend to pursue “shadow careers” – jobs that are similar to our dreams, but not quite our dreams.”—Ben Arment

People do this all the time. They dream of being a novelist but instead become an English professor. They dream of owning a gym but instead become a gym teacher. They dream of becoming a race car driver but instead become a mechanic.

“Shadow dreams” reflect your dream but are a far less risky version. This reflects a lack of belief that you can do it. That you can really make it doing what you love.

I believe the mass population is pursuing shadow dreams. They say they’re doing what they love. But they really don’t. They wish they were doing something different. They’ve settled for far less than they could’ve had.

Don’t settle for a shadow dream.

9. You’re Probably Thinking Too Small For Yourself

“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.”―David J. Schwartz

You’ve probably had your dreams beaten into submission. You’ve been told to be realistic. To fit-in. This is all horrible advice.

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As Napoleon Hill has said—“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

It really comes down to being creative and imaginative, then believing you can actually do it. If you don’t believe it, it won’t happen. But if you can think it and believe it, you can do it. No matter how big. No matter how unrealistic.

The world needs bigger thinking. Tim Ferriss recently interviewed Peter Diamandis and both agreed that most startups are only providing incremental improvement to what already exists. The world needs more exponential improvements. The world needs people to pursue “moonshot” goals. Go big and be bold.

If abundance is where we’re going, bold is the pathway. The world progresses because of big thinkers who are bold enough to try. Be one of those big thinkers. You’re in college. There’s no risk. Change the world.

There has never been a time like this in the history of the world. A large majority of the world’s most successful people are in their 20’s and 30’s. We live in a time when you can create something that quickly becomes a billion dollar company.

“Want to become a billionaire? Then help a billion people. The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.”—Peter Diamandis

10. Freedom And Security Are Not The Same Thing

“He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”—Benjamin Franklin

The desire for security is rooted in the emotion of fear. People who are seeking security perceive a scarcity of jobs and resources. Consequently, they want to put themselves in the safest position—devoid of as much risk as possible.

Unfortunately, this mindset often leads people into jobs they hate but will never quit (“golden handcuffs”).

It has been said that, “freedom is the heavy cost of security.” People would rather feel safe and secure than free. They have become a slave to their jobs and they lack the courage to take the leap. The risks are perceived as too great to live the life of their dreams.

This whole notion of security is completely misconstrued. There can be no security in external things—only slavery and dependence. The only true form of security a person can have is internal. If they are secure in themselves, than they are free. Otherwise, they are slaves.

Conclusion

Right now is the best time in the world to be a student or recent graduate. Our global economy yields infinite opportunities to create a life of freedom doing what you love. There are little to no risks at this time in your life.

Crush it.

Featured photo credit: Girl Reading Magazine In Hotel Bed/ Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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