This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
This week, more than 38,000 Utah teens will graduate from high school. Our family has one of those almost-grads and we will be sitting in the Marriott Center on Brigham Young University's campus on Thursday, ready to cheer when his name is called. He and his fellow graduates will listen to speeches they won't remember, switch their tassels to the other side and try to make their walk across the stage stand out in some way.
If you're one of those 38,000, I've got some advice for you:
1. Be flexible! Twenty years ago, social media did not exist, let alone careers focused on social media. Twenty years from now, new professions will exist. Learn how to learn, be willing to adapt and you'll be just fine.
2. Be a leader.
3. Pay attention to and be involved in politics. There's an old adage that says "You may not take an interest in politics, but it has an interest in you." Know what's going on.
4. Life is all about relationships. Make an effort to develop and maintain healthy, supportive relationships.
5. Give back now. Don't wait for "someday." Make service an integral part of your life.
6. Don't stay in toxic relationships – friendships, dating, even work. It's not worth it.
7. Spend time outside, without electronics. Hiking, camping, the beach, our national parks – there are a zillion possibilities.
8. Learn to follow your gut.
9. Love yourself. Whole-heartedly, unabashedly. You are wonderful!
10. STAY AWAY FROM PORN. Seriously. Just don't.
11. Be happy for other's successes – they do not detract from your own!
12. Some things are not worth doing. Some aren't worth doing well. Many are worth doing at 100 percent. Know the difference.
13. It's OK to say no. And when someone says no to you, respect that.
14. Never, ever be a bully.
15. If you see something happening you know is wrong, speak up!
16. Try things that interest you! There are so many possibilities!
17. Don't dumb yourself down to be cool or for any other reason.
18. Don't obsess or stay stuck on high school accomplishments or any accomplishments. You don't want to end up like Uncle Rico in "Napoleon Dynamite," always looking backwards to the glory days.
19. Don't be stupid with your new-found freedom. Rash decisions now can negatively impact your whole life.
20. You learned the basics of money management – now put those lessons into practice. Stay away from credit cards. Make Dave Ramsey your friend.
21. Stand up for your beliefs, kindly but firmly.
22. Look for the good in everyone. You can find it if you try.
23. Take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
24. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Leaders learn from others and never stop asking questions.
25. Don't be afraid to fail. In fact, embrace it. It happens to all of us.
26. Commit to being a life-long learner. I know it sounds crazy when you are just leaving high school, but it's another sign of a true leader.
27. Under-promise. Over-deliver.
28. Set goals, write them down and then go for it!
29. Don't worry about what "everyone else" thinks – 99 percent of the time, they're not thinking about you anyway.
30. The rest of your life will revolve around work – learn to love it.
31. Don't expect to be entertained your whole life.
32. Keep a sense of humor.
33. Incorporate the best productivity practices that work for you.
34. Travel. You can learn things by traveling that you will learn in no other way.
35. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
36. Cook. You can't afford take-out all the time and Ramen just isn't that nutritious. Besides, all your friends will be super impressed you know how to make more than mac and cheese.
37. Never settle for "tolerable" in your romantic relationships, especially marriage.
38. If you EVER have thoughts of suicide, DON'T! PLEASE talk to people you trust and do what it takes to get healthy.
39. If someone offers you a piece of gum or breath mints, always say yes.
I'll leave you with this favorite commencement speech quote from Dr. Seuss:
"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!"
Now go change the world.