As he cut the Graduation cake and we all wished him congratulations, I beamed with so much pride at my nephew. I was so proud of him. He had just graduated law school and this graduation was exceedingly special.
My nephew had a few bumps along the way, when he first went to college, resulting in him missing about a year of college. For most ordinary people this would have meant an end to their college aspirations. But not for this young man. Once he realized that his mistakes, he literally made a 180 degree turn. He worked harder than most young men his age, working at a job whilst maintaining his grades and doing summer school to catch up. He made up the lost time and went on to get a masters degree and finish law school all in record time. He was the class president and as I saw his pictures of him in his gown, giving his speech, I realized he is such an inspiration to all students.
1. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been,what matters is where you are going.
One of the things I always tell my kids is that you cannot go back and live your past, and make corrections. You can learn from your past and choose not to make the same mistakes. There really is no failure in life if you learn from some of the missteps that we all invariably make along the way. Some people are so stuck in the past that they relive every single mistake they ever made and think of the decisions they could have made differently. I often tell my patients that we all have a story. All of us have done some things we are proud of and some things we regret. The secret is not to be so puffed up with pride about our past accomplishments, or so ashamed that we are literally paralyzed and unable to move. Learn from your mistakes and be on your way. It doesn’t really matter where you’ve been. You are not the mistakes or the achievements in your past. You can build on both of these and climb the ladder and go places, if you decide you want to.
2. Set goals along the way
Most people, when they are going on a trip take the time to plan the route, decide where they will stop and rest and estimate how long it will take them to get there. Yet on this most important adventure of all, called life, most people don’t bother to set any goals. People go from day to day, literally floating through life and making do with whatever comes their way. Goal setting is such a powerful tool, especially written goals. Somehow, when you set goals and write them down, something magical happens and your brain gets to work finding ways to help you achieve those goals, or even better ones. You are less likely to be swayed by the shiny objects that you see along the way. You know where you are going and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.
3. Dream big and work hard.
Set achievable and realistic but challenging goals. Focus on your strengths. Now we all tell our teens to dream big, but somehow we forget to tell them that most big dreams are accompanied by a lot of hard work. You cannot spend all your time dreaming and expect changes in your life. You actually have to do something. Teens must be willing to put one foot in front of the other to propel themselves forward. And they don’t have to be big steps. What is important is taking small, consistent steps. There was a poem we all learned as kids, “Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean.” Mrs. J.A. Carney (1845) It is the little steps that we take every day towards bringing our dreams to life, that eventually make them achievable.
4. Be grateful for family support
Even as I congratulate all the graduates out there, I have to stand up and clap for all the parents, who have supported their children through thick and thin. I know how important family support is towards achieving one’s goals, and I know sometimes, our teens don’t realize what it takes to be there through all the ups and downs with them. I always tell parents not to take it personally and that one day these teens will thank them for all the support they were given, but took so much for granted. As I watched my nephew acknowledge his parents, I knew that he was remembering all those times they stood by him and prayed without ceasing, the encouragement they gave him, and most of all, never giving up on him, but always believing that he would achieve all that he was capable of achieving.
So with pride and joy, I wish all graduates, a huge congratulations. You did it! But remember this is only the beginning you are still on this journey called life. Don’t dwell on your past mistakes. Focus on your goals and what you want to achieve. Dream big and take small consistent steps everyday towards your goals. Be willing to do the work, and be grateful for the support from your family and friends.
“Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life. If you can grasp that you’ll make a difference.” ~ Arie Pencovici