What advice did you wish you have heard at your commencement? 25 TED talk speakers interviewed

Commencement is the beginning of life, and end of schooling. You open up a bigger book to learn, this time not in a class room anymore. Commencement speakers dole out words of wisdom that sometimes we wish were given to us:


Deep inside you, you already know what you need to do to pursue your goals. “Don’t take yourself, your decisions, your outcomes or even your mistakes so damn seriously. There’s nowhere special to get to and no special accomplishment to check off the list. The moment is now; the place is here; the person is you. Make choices that make you feel alive. But here’s my advice about my advice — I couldn’t have possibly done this myself when I was a new college graduate because I was Wrapped. Way. Too. Tightly. “It’s okay to quit your first job — even if it was really hard to get it, it paid well, and everyone seemed to admire you for getting it. If you hate your job, you’ll be wasting your life acquiring skills, contacts and a reputation that you don’t want to use. The sooner you find something you love, the better.” Don’t get fooled by shiny things — that shine fades over time, while the gold of strong relationships never tarnishes. “Never stop learning, even after you achieved career success. When we graduate college and start our careers, we often understand that we have a lot to learn, so we approach our jobs with a learning orientation. We ask questions; we observe others; we know we may be wrong; and we realize we’re works in progress. But once we gain competence in our jobs, too many of us stop learning and growing. The most successful people — in work and in life — never stop deliberately continuing to learn and improve.” “I felt a lot of urgency to ‘do good’ right out of the gate after college, working in nonprofits and government right away. I wish someone had urged me to build my skills instead, so I would have received mentoring on my professional performance and communication early on. Then, when I transitioned into the social good sector, I’d have had a good set of tools and habits to bring with me.” “Be less afraid of getting older — way, way less afraid. Our fears are way out of proportion to the reality, and we squander a ridiculous amount of our youth worrying about it.” “Give yourself more time. So many college graduates immediately start wanting to make all their dreams come true at once — this can go wrong in many ways. The first is the frustration that you’re not ‘there’ yet. It’s going to take time to find (or build) your dream career. The second is burnout. If you find your career early, you can find yourself setting all sorts of unrealistic goals with arbitrary deadlines and chase them until you drop from fatigue. You can have it all — but not all at once.” “Whenever possible, get as uncomfortable as possible. Challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone regularly. In truth, the research is clear: happiness exists down almost any life path as long as you are grateful for the present, and develop meaningful relationships. “You don’t have to pursue what you studied. I followed my heart, and now I’m happier and more satisfied with life than I could have ever envisioned. We kill ourselves looking for jobs in our fields of study, while there are a million other things we are able to do.


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