What the Future Holds

What the Future Holds

It’s the graduation season again. Hopeful men and women will walk across the stage and then step out into the future. If you are one of those, what will you find there?

I’m no soothsayer, but let me make some predictions anyway.

For one thing, you’ll find opportunity. This is, after all, the land of opportunity. It’s not perfect, but if you work hard and prepare yourself, you can do very well. Recent statistics tell us that there are now more jobs in the U.S. than people to fill them and wages are rising. Supply and demand are at work and that tension between the two is opening doors across many industries. Pick one. Try it. If it’s not the right for you, don’t settle. Pick another one. Try again. You’ll know when you are in the right place and on the right team. Opportunity and a booming economy allow us the privilege to choose. We don’t have to take a job simply because we need one and they are the only suitor. There are lots of options now and a real chance to find “that one thing that we do better than 10,000 other people” as the late great Don Clifton once said. Take advantage and be proactive. You’ll be glad you did.

Second, you’ll find great people. The daily news always seems grim about what’s going on in the world. Bad people get the spotlight and more attention than they deserve, quite honestly. It’s easy to get cynical and assume everybody is like that guy you saw last night on the evening news. It’s not true. Most people are good and kind. They work hard. They really do care. Give them a chance and you’ll see. Cynicism is a trap. It poisons the water and steals our joy. Life is short and if we have a choice why not assume the best of people-our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers? I’ve been around a while and I have very rarely been disappointed by people. In fact, I am astonished at the goodness of most of the individuals I have had the privilege of knowing. Look for the good. It’s there, I promise.

Third, you’ll find that you have to manage your own life. Nobody is going to do it for you. For example, technology is cool and it rules the day. But, don’t let it run your life and cause your friendships or family time to suffer. Manage your “incoming.” Don’t live a reactive life that comes with always responding in milliseconds to the latest call, text, or email. I’ve heard that the average knowledge worker in the U.S. is interrupted every 11 minutes by some form of communication. I get that some of that is unavoidable. But when you leave work, put your phone down and have a real conversation with the people you love. The world may change all around you, but great relationships are forever, or they should be. What kind of life do you want? Once you answer that question, you’ll have to choose minute by minute how to act and how to proceed to make it happen. Pay attention. Do your plan. Walk circumspectly. Those minutes turn into years and then into decades. At the end of your days, what would you like to have people say about your life and legacy and who do you want to have with you on the journey? We all leave a legacy whether we intended to or not. Choose yours and then go live it out.

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll find challenges. Trouble is an equal opportunity offender. No one is immune to disappointment and failure in this life. It’s just part of the deal. The only people who aren’t failing are people who aren’t doing anything. Don’t be one of those people. Don’t insulate yourself from failure. Trust me, you’d rather go down in flames making a valiant attempt than sitting alone in safety and wondering what you could have done, if only. Over time you’ll learn that regret is a lot worse than failure. You can’t fix the things you never tried. So, go try something big. If you fall hard, get up, dust yourself off and get moving again. Tomorrow is a new day. Use what you learned to make a difference in your life and others, no matter the challenges or the disappointments you had yesterday.

I am here to tell you that life can be a beautiful thing. You are just getting started on your journey. Stay the course. Do your life and not somebody else’s. Be brave. Keep walking. Keep working. If you do, your future is sure to be bright. That’s my prediction.


Forbes.com Contributor

It is a true privilege to be a columnist at Forbes. Forbes is a community of talented people with deep knowledge in their genre.

Always honor your commitments, but after that consider yourself a free agent.