05/27/08 — How to succeed: First step in creating a life is not expecting it to be given to you

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How to succeed: First step in creating a life is not expecting it to be given to you

Graduation advice has become a cottage industry these days. You can’t turn around without reading some pithy comment from someone to young people just starting out their careers — and lives.

So, at about this time of year, there are plenty of cards, books and even T-shirts extolling the bright futures of the Class of 2008.

There are also new studies about this new generation of adults — and what motivates them and what will push them to succeed.

And, of course, the news is not good.

And just so you will feel better, it never is. No generation ever feels like the one coming up to bat next has any of the get-up-and-go necessary to make it and to keep the world rotating properly.

Researchers who are studying those who are in their early 20s these days say they are not used to standing on their own — and that they expect and will continue to expect coddling and support from their parents and anyone else they encounter throughout their early adulthood.

The experts say adulthood begins at 30 these days.

Protest all you want. There might just be a grain of truth in some of their analysis. Truth is, we do kind of take a little too much care of our youngsters these days. Struggle is not too often associated with a 20-year-old. We want our children to have advantages we never had — just like our parents wanted us to have the best possible lives.

So, that brings us back to graduation advice. What should this next generation of workers know about what it takes to make it professionally, personally and in every other way?

The best piece of advice a new graduate can hear is that no one is really going to give them a successful career, a happy family, a good marriage or even all the material things they want.

If you want a good life, you have to go out and get it. If you wait for someone to bring it to you, you might have to settle, if you are lucky enough to get one at all.

And be prepared for hardships down the road. Few people have rosy, unblemished careers these days — and economies can turn on a dime. There is no magic bullet to success other than hard work and determination.

The same is true at home. Wonderful marriages don’t just pop out of nowhere. They are built — one brick at a time. If you want family to be your priority, expect to sacrifice. That’s what it takes.

Children also don’t raise themselves. If you want them, they are expensive. Have them not just when you want them, but when you can properly care for them.

And last but not least, go forward with courage — you can do this. We might not want to admit it, but we do think you are special — and we can’t wait to see what you do with your lives.

Published in Editorials on May 27, 2008 12:23 PM