I’m picking up my son from college today. Next Friday, it’s my daughter’s high school graduation. Come September, I’ll be an empty nester. It’ll be just me, my wife, two Sheltie dogs and two cats.
Time flew by so quickly and I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how this happened. It’s made me a little sentimental and thoughtful about life—mistakes made, paths not taken, missed opportunities, taking things for granted and some success. Since Sunday is Father’s Day, I’d like to offer some advice based upon the lessons I have learned along the way. I’m not one to talk about your personal life, but I can certainly help with your career. Sometimes, the two are inextricably intertwined.
1. When you’re young, be true to yourself and stand up for your beliefs and dreams. Too many people, including parents, friends, teachers and the media will push, cajole and pressure you into being someone you’re not. They don’t want to acknowledge who you are as an individual and what you’d like to do with your life. Start to stand up for yourself at an early age; otherwise, you’ll end up living someone else’s version of a life. The career you choose won’t be because it’s the one you want. You will take that path—that’s not right for you—as not to offend or disappoint your parents and succumb to societal pressures. Don’t let this happen to you. You’re better off failing—while pursuing your own meaningful path—than achieving a modicum of success in a career you’re disconnected from and don’t derive any meaning or enjoyment from it.
2. Today, it seems that everyone’s going to college. It’s ridiculously expensive and incredibly competitive once you graduate. Try to pick a major that will enable you to obtain a decent job that could lead to something big down the road. I understand that you want the college experience, taking easy-A classes, declaring a bogus major and spending your time drinking, smoking pot and goofing off with your friends. With hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans and the ensuring crushing debt that you’ll bear, this is a shortsighted approach toward college. Use this time to learn something valuable, which will enable you to quickly pay back your loans, start a family, purchase a home and lead a comfortable life.
3. Work sucks. It’s hard, exhausting and most bosses don’t appreciate what you do at the office. Some other guy will get the promotion who doesn’t deserve it. At some point in your career, you’ll be fired or find yourself afraid of losing your job. You’ll feel that the world is out to get you. This happens to everyone, only nobody likes to talk about it because they all want people to think that they’re successful and appear to have their lives together. Since its tough no matter what, you should select a job that you enjoy, are good at it and will offer at least a reasonable living. I don’t necessarily believe the adage, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Even if you love what you do, there will be days that you feel miserable and dread going into the office. However, if you generally derive meaning and enjoyment from your work, there will be more good days than bad. It’s the same with a marriage or any relationship. You will experience ups and downs and you will have to work hard at it all the time, making concessions, biting your tongue and letting go of slights to make it successful.