Dan Roth, LI's Executive Editor, asked me to join others to share my thoughts to help guide the graduating class of 2014 in a series called #IfIWere22 . I am actually going to go back to when I was 19, because I distinctly remember something very important that will shape your life, if you take the lesson to heart.
When I was 19 I was engaged and about to marry, just days before my 20th birthday. There was a "moment" when I thought I was making a mistake and thought about not going through with the marriage. I quickly told myself it was just pre marriage jitters (which I had heard somewhere through my childhood). My father was an alcoholic, and if I called the wedding off, it meant I would still have to live in that environment, so I quickly gave my head a shake and told myself there was no other choice. Looking back, that was the biggest lessons of my life. Here are the first 2 lessons from that:
THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE - and it isn't just A or B. There are choices you haven't thought of in every situation. Learn to ask yourself better questions, such as what else could I do, what are other choices and solutions I haven't thought of, and what do I need to do to make the best choice happen.
2nd - That little voice, was the voice of intuition. It was right. 4 years later I was divorced, and so was my mom. The fear that I had wasn't real about living with my dad, because my mom ended the marriage, and I could have been there to help my mom through the challenges she went through. Follow your heart, our intuition is our own "internal guidance system." It is there to GUIDE you. The KEY is to listen, and follow the messages you hear when you get authentic with yourself. Really LISTEN to your intuition and allow it to guide you. Listen to your inner voice in relationships and in business. If either doesn't feel right, there is something better waiting for you. Have the courage to take a stand for what you deserve in your life.
-Don't be afraid to take risks - Society is conditioned to buy into fear and limiting beliefs. This is why so many in life struggle. Be willing to take risk - this is where the biggest rewards are and the least competition. On the topic of competition, it is only present when people think there is a lack of something. When you are willing to take risk and go after what you want, you will meet others on that same path, and it often leads to something bigger than you ever imagined, that hasn't even been created yet....there is no competition there.
-The most important thing you can do right now, is to reflect and get absolutely clear on your passions and what truly makes you happy. What do you love, what are you good at, what are you most interested in, what would you like to learn? Many people go through their entire lives searching for happiness, and waiting for the next ____ to "make"them happy. It doesn't work that way. Happiness is within you. It is YOUR job to discover it. The key is to listen to your heart and follow the path your heart is leading you.
-Consider self employment as a viable choice for your future. There is no such thing as job security...we are NOT in the industrial age any longer. The only job security there is, is your willingness to do what it takes to combine your ideas, skills, knowledge, education, passion, and combine with all the technology options available to create your own work. It has been stated that over 65% of the work that will be done by today's youth hasn't been invented yet - this is exciting!!!! GO AND BE THE CREATORS! There are choices out there for you in your career that no one has thought of yet.
-You are going to be working for a long time. Find a way to connect your passion to what you do for a living, you will never feel like you are working. Work for the meaning of the work and provide value - you will feel personally rewarded, and the financial reward will follow.
-Take personal responsibility for everything in your life, good and bad. Don't put blame on others. Have a high standard of ethics and integrity, because that will last long term and set you far above most others.
-Be the leader in your own life - don't wait for things to happen, go out and MAKE things happen. You have potential for a reason.....TO LIVE INTO IT.
-Don't give into fear. First, fear is not real, it is imagined in the mind, and will hold you back from what you want more than anything. YOU are driving your thoughts, and you have a choice whether your thoughts are based on fear or courage. Successful people have all the same fears, the difference is, successful people push through the fear. THAT is how fear actually disappears.
-Step out of your comfort zone consistently - Nothing great happens within the comfort zone. When you are willing to take a step out of your comfort zone, and do this continually in your life, you will grow more and accomplish more than you ever imagined.
-Keep learning and growing your knowledge - Nothing stays the same, change is constant. Be a life long learner and you will continually put yourself at an advantage.
-Embrace change and find opportunity within it - As I mentioned, change in life and business is constant. Don't resist change, instead embrace change and ask yourself what opportunities you can find within the change. It is very often the stepping stone to something incredible.
-Have more courage - This is the opposite of fear. By pulling out the courage from within, you will continue to raise the bar on what you are capable of.
-Surround yourself with like minded, positive, people, and let go of the negativity you come across in life - sometimes you have to love people from a distance.
-In business and in life, ONLY take advice from people that have the result you want and are therefore QUALIFIED to give you advice. Any other advice is usually from "well meaning" people, usually living inside the box of fear, conformity, theories, and mediocrity. They are NOT qualified to give you advice, no matter who they are and how much you may love them.
-Work hard, but play just as hard. It's important so you don't burn out.
-Remember as you build success, to reach back and help others to reach their potential. That is what true leaders do. True leaders are not threatened by the success of others....they reach back and help others succeed. This is one of the responsibilities of leadership.
-Know your parents did the best they could with what they knew. Good or bad, take the lessons and raise the bar to be a better parent yourself. When we know better we do better.
-Forgive - I learned to forgive my dad long after he passed away. Forgiveness is something you do for YOURSELF so that you are not carrying around the anger, the hatred, or any other negative emotion. Forgiveness allows you to let go and take that burden off your shoulders. You cannot be the best version of you, if you are carrying negative emotions inside of you.
-Marry your best friend - Why would you settle for spending your life with anyone less. Respect each other always. Do things you can both participate in. Share your dreams and goals together. Learn how to dance...you will be able to have a ton of fun with this as a couple for your whole lives:)
-When you have children remember to take time out as a couple - for date nights, and holidays....the kids will grow up and leave eventually. You want to have a great relationship with your partner still when they do. Don't hesitate to take the kids out of school to travel the world. They will learn more from this than anything they miss in the classroom.
I did manage to find the love of my life and have been happily married now for almost 29 years, with 2 grown successful kids. Ten years ago, I found my passion. It took that long because I didn't understand the relevance of identifying your passion, and had to go through all the stepping stones of challenge to find and identify it. People search their whole lives for happiness. Happiness is within us. Our job is to reflect and authentically identify our passion and then make sure all the decisions we make in our lives support it.When you are willing to do this, you will feel such a sense of control in your life, and will find that happiness within you. Life is a journey, not to a destination, but to be lived and enjoyed every moment of the ride!
Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader