Graduation is here. You’ve worked hard to achieve this milestone, and now that your efforts have paid off, the world is waiting for you to take it on. Yes, you’ve learned a lot, and you know that forging a career and a life of your own are next on the agenda. But how will you know whether the first steps you take are leading you in a positive direction? Needless to say, a few pearls of wisdom alongside all of the graduation gifts you’re receiving wouldn’t go amiss.
Take a deep breath—you don’t have to start going it alone the minute your diploma is in your hand. There are a lot of tried-and-true pieces of wisdom in the world—and if you pay attention to them and put them into action, those truths can guide you in the direction of great things.
“Success is about getting the fundamentals right,” points out Ben Newman, coauthor along with Dr. Justin B. Short of the new book Pocket Truths for Success: 365 Daily Principles to Become the Most Successful Person You Know.
There are 365 daily principles found in Pocket Truths for Success and we’ve chosen 10 to showcase here:
The first impression is made in the first 90 seconds. Each time you encounter a new person, he or she forms an opinion of you that’s surprisingly difficult to change as time goes by. So don’t underestimate the value of a well-groomed appearance, firm handshake, a friendly smile, and a genuine demeanor—they’ll help you start relationships off on the right foot every time.
Dress the part. College students have gotten a bad rap for wearing pajamas and sweat pants to class—but the fact is, our society as a whole has gotten into a casual routine, and we’ve moved away from dressing our best. Yes, it’s important to express yourself and to be fairly comfortable, but so is wearing appropriate clothing. When you dress as though you’re already in the position you’d like to have, you’re one step closer to being there.
Set goals that scare you. Then set bigger goals. Many wise individuals have pointed out the importance of living outside your comfort zone. That’s because if you’re not challenging yourself you’re probably not growing—so set goals that you know will stretch your intellect, your persistence, and your ingenuity. And once you’ve achieved them, set more. Think of these goals as being your “life plan.” Staying focused on your goals will help you not to inadvertently waste time and effort. And most of all, remember that what gets planned gets done.
Never overestimate the competition or underestimate yourself. It’s good to have a healthy respect for the competition, as well as an accurate understanding of your own weaknesses. But don’t let this knowledge keep you from trying. Remember, no one is perfect—and you yourself possess many strengths and assets!
If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit that you don’t. Find the answer and return to the person. This will benefit you both. When you don’t have the answer you need, your immediate inclination might be to fib, hedge, or prevaricate. Resist those impulses and, even though it may mean humbling yourself and swallowing your pride, be honest about what you don’t know. This will win you the respect of others with integrity, and will also give you the chance to find the correct answer rather than one that might confuse and mislead.
Be a great self promoter. You are your own best advocate—period. Learn to volunteer when your skills are needed, and always try to add value to any organization or endeavor you’re a part of. Remember, your actions as well as your words can show people that they want you on their team.
Be the best at treating others well. This goes back to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When you treat others well—better, in fact, than anyone else treats them—you will see your honesty and kindness reflected back into your own life. More people will seek you out, more people will respect you, and more people will be willing to put in a good word (or action) on your behalf.
Let your YES mean YES and your NO mean NO. Be a person of your word. Period. Don’t give in to the temptation to tell white lies, to engage in double talk, or to renege on a promise. Gaining a reputation for reliability will set you apart, will help you build genuine relationships, and will make others want to partner with you.
Be committed to self-improvement. Yes, you’ve graduated from school…but that doesn’t mean you’re finished learning and growing. Constantly strive to improve your mind, your relationships, your knowledge base, your empathy, and more. You will notice new things about yourself, about others, and about the world around you that will continue to open doors and propel you forward.
You will have your share of good and bad luck. Your success is determined by how you handle the bad. No matter how much you plan, how well you prepare, or how good your intentions, you’ll experience failures amongst your successes. That’s what it means to be human. You can’t always control what happens to you, but remember that you can control how you react to bad circumstances. You can choose to get up and keep going, or you can choose to stay knocked down.