Beyond the yellow brick road

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back to the plough for some of you kids, it is graduation time. Just as in the lyrics from one of Elton John’s mega hits, “your future lies beyond the yellow brick road.” Your opportunity is before you and there is no mo’ map. Dorothy did not have to make any decisions as she followed the golden road but as a young person with a diploma in your hand, there really isn’t a perfect, shiny road laid out in front of you. You have to find your own direction. If you are a guy, please stop and ask.

To graduate means you have to make some major life choices that will literally decide what your future will be.

High School grads can stay on the road by continuing their education. This for most kids is the best laid plan. But not all. For a few, like Bill Gates, they must take a different road. You may have to make your way in the world through another avenue besides college. Some kids are not good students, or are not motivated. Why spend thousands of dollars on a kid who will not invest in his or her own education. They end up in school loan debt and they end up discouraged, disheartened and they can not follow their dreams because they “have” to pay the bills of going to school which derailed them to start with. It becomes a no win situation.

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Oh no you did not! Yes, I am encouraging some students not to go to college. Before you throw the newspaper in the garbage, we all must be aware that some kids are not preparatory material. This doesn’t mean they can lie around aimlessly and enjoy the fruits of their parent’s labor either. These young entrepreneurs are gung ho to follow a certain dream, they are creative and driven. Without a specific goal, send them to college so that at least they get a notch for their resume. Or go into the military, you will find a purpose, become self disciplined and learn a job skill. Folks will be immediately proud to know you.

The majority of you young folks, get your behinds to school some how and some way. You will benefit financially in the end. If you don’t agree, then take a job right now in the fast food industry and see your future. Move out of mommy and daddy’s house and live on your own for a few months and you will wake up real quick! Step away from the cradle!

Some of you girls think getting married and having babies is the happily ever after you read and dream about. NOT gonna happen! Unless you grab a highly rich young man who can put you up in a home and finance raising your kids you will find parenting and marriage under the strain of moderate means not an easy life. It’s tough to stay happily married in the first place, its tough to raise children, and it’s really tough to do it all on a shoestring budget. Just check out Brittney who has millions and how it’s working for her!

Life choices will direct the path of your life. You can make a choice or you can let life flow do its own thing. I recommend an active role in your future rather than responding to all the emergencies that come up. Pre-empt the problems. Choose a course. Choose educating yourself, Arm yourself with opportunities. Raise and save money rather than charge and borrow your future.

Most people today dream about being debt free so don’t go there at the beginning of your life, it is a hole in which you may never climb out of.

Realize there are no perfect jobs, no perfect lives, and no perfect people. Along the way, you will make some wrong choices, mistakes. Learn to live with them, correct them and stop yourself from repeating them. Successful people always make lemonade from their lemons.

The path to success is paved with doing something you love and making a living by doing it. Love and family are popular choices that go hand in hand with career. Just make sure the timing to marry and to have children is made when you can enjoy them. Today, you can have it all but not without serious planning and a reality check.

The path to failure is paved with not doing anything. Not choosing is just losing! It is better to pick something and fail.

As a student you have achieved the skill of making good grades and knowing what the next step is

..the next grade. Now, classes are over and the most excellent skill you need is to know what you like and what you need and make smart decisions based on that information. Don’t live someone else’s life

…make your own choices.

In high school, I had a romantic ideal of being a foreign missionary. One six week trip to South Korea taught me that I am not that good at adapting to foreign culture and that life choice would not have made me happy.

Did I do everything right? No way. I did take my first year out of school and follow a dream by touring with a music group. I am pursuing my dreams now but around my life choices of twins at a later age!!

The best thing you can do now is know what makes you tick. What sparks your interest? What do you do well? What is important to you? What is your dream job and how can you modify it to reality. For example, I would like to be a star on Broadway, can I translate that to a job of working in theater, or teaching drama at a school?

Don’t count out your dreams.

Talk to career counselors. If you pick some options, talk to people who actually are employed in that field and see how that affects your decision. For example, I played around with being a teacher and then I substituted. I know the kids treat subs poorly, but it showed me my talents lay somewhere where they don’t jump out of windows or burn gummy bears on the furnace.

Life can throw you some punches. I recommend for anyone — but especially graduates — to read Randy Pausch’s book based on his youtube hit video, “The Last Lecture.” He is a source of much inspiration and the life lesson he teaches will at least motivate you to do something with the time given. He is nearing the end of his life thanks to cancer but leaves a legacy of wisdom and humor that still touches people by the millions. His life is nearing its end as we speak.

Sometimes the road before you can be a short path. Why not enjoy it? Plan for the long term but sometimes eat the bannasplits with extra fudge sauce!!

Congratulations for completing this step, but get busy living or get busy paying debt.