My guess is that someone at some time has given you advice. If you are about to graduate high school or college you should prepare for a bombardment of statements that begin with “you should” and “my advice.”  Looking back on my life, here are the best pieces of advice I ever received, whether I heeded the advice or not. Hopefully, at least one of these inspires you as you take the next life step.

I’m trying this in reverse order, so hang on for #1!advice_college_student 

    5) “Just be you.”

    This advice came from my best friend’s father after I graduated high school. He was absolutely spot on. You are going to receive a lot of advice about what to do with your life, how to be successful after graduation, and how you should act. The thing is, this is commonly someone else’s opinion of your life. This will happen throughout your life, most commonly after you graduate high school and college. It’s valuable because it’s built on experiences, but never forget that you are different. Focus on being the best “you” you can be and I know things will work out for you.

    4) “The future is yours, if you want it.”

    My first advisor in college gave me this advice, I probably should have listened to her more. Have you ever heard “the world is your oyster” from someone?  Same premise here. There is a bounty of opportunities that will be presented to you during high school and beyond. I was always focused on taking every opportunity presented to me, which left me with limited focus. If I had listened to this advice, I would have focused on maximizing the opportunities that really mattered to me and those that would have made me a better person.

    3) “Control your money.”

    I wrote a blog about the Mint app before that covered this topic. I see so many people riddled with debt and trapped by unfortunate financial situations. You can’t control everything, but money is something you can. There are millions of ways to make a dollar, and ten times as many ways to spend ten times that.

    Three things that helped me with finances:

  1. Set a budget, even in high school. It’s imperative that you know where your money is going and what bills are due when. Reality Check is a cool tool to help you plan how much you need to make to afford the life you desire.
  2. Save before you spend. I love the saying “pay yourself first” and it is very true. If you are working, start the habit of putting 10% in a savings account and learn to live on 90%.
  3. Get smart about your money. Even if you don’t plan to be a Securities and Commodities Trader later in life, you should know the basics about investing and growing your money. Especially when it comes to saving for retirement and the differences between a traditional and ROTH IRA.

2) “Anything worth having requires sacrifice.”

R.I.P. dad, and thanks for this advice! My parents gave me many things over the years, good advice is probably the best thing. Even though my dad has passed away, I feel his presence every time I struggle to achieve a goal. Things that come easy, leave easy. Don’t let your education be something that is easily lost. Student Loan Forgiveness programs are great, and “free-college” programs sound like a dream, but don’t rely on things that can be so quickly redacted. Make sure you put in the time to study, I wish I had struggled more in my undergrad. Above all else, don’t give up and persevere. I know you can achieve your dreams.

1) “Have faith.”

You’re probably thinking I am going to tell you that you need to “accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” While this advice came from my pastor years ago, faith in God is not the point. I see every day examples of people who have no faith in their fellow humans. A loss of respect for personal decisions and a lack of self-respect. This advice is all about believing that your fellow classmate, and random strangers, are inherently good. Believe that people will do the right thing, give them a chance. If they prove you wrong, at least you believed and looked for the good first. Trust me, you’ll live a happier life this way.

What is the best advice you ever received? What advice would you give a recent high school or college graduate? Leave it in the comment section so we can all share in your wisdom.