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Dear Class of 2014, Here's some Advice on how to handle all the Advice

There are a lot of well-meaning advisers out there - everyone has something to tell you when you graduate. Bennett E. McClellan has a few tips on how to take it all in.
BY Bennett E. McClellan |   26-05-2014
Individuals experiencing graduation receive a lot of advice. Those board caps and graduation gowns attract advice givers. As a graduate, you can count on anyone older than you offering you sage advice from his or her vast life experiences. If you want a dousing in graduation advice, visit one of the online collections of commencement speeches. One can also buy books with advice aimed at the recently graduated. As a graduate, you are a prime target for those brimming with wisdom to share.

Here are some ideas for how to handle these graduation gifts (or any other advice you may receive in life).

First, take it in. That’s right. Listen to the advice-givers. Make your best effort to hear what each person wants you to know. Some people give advice only to hear themselves talk. Most people offer advice because they believe they have something of value to impart. Your uncles and aunties have lived with the advice others gave them. They have made mistakes they hope you will not make. Do yourself a favor. Hear them out. You might discover a gem.

Then, sort it out. The utility of advice is individualistic. Even assuming all the advice you receive is good advice; it might not be good advice for you. Context matters. Things that seem compelling in one person’s lived experience may hardly matter in another person’s life. Time moves on. Advice you cannot use today may become the thing you need in ten years. Parse the advice you receive into three buckets: advice you can use immediately, advice you might use at some time in the future, and advice you will not use. Capture it all.

Third, seize responsibility. It is time to give yourself the job of running the rest of your time. Become C.E.O. of Me. While other people (including your parents) may give you advice, you and you alone must live your life. Whether you move on to more school or into the job market, stop thinking about yourself as just a student. Take responsibility for crafting your own rules for living as an adult. The bigger the decisions you face, the more important it is for you to make those decisions personal. Gather advice from others. Make your own decisions.

Fourth, motivate yourself. Once you make a decision, you must act on it. Decisions taken without commitment accomplish nothing. Get yourself into motion. Whether you act on the advice of others or whether you act on your own advice: act! Your life movie has already started shooting. Action!

Finally, focus on next. Keep your grand goals in sight while keeping the ground before you fully in view. Grand goals can only be accomplished by accomplishing mundane tasks. If you are on a journey of 10,000 miles, each step is a vital link in the sequence of steps that brings you closer to your goals. Keeping all the great advice you receive in mind, what is the next thing you need to do to keep you moving toward your goals? What is the next step? Do that today.

Bennett E. McClellan, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice Dean for Jindal Global University’s School of Liberal Arts & Humanities. Having accumulated no fewer than 5 university degrees, he has experienced the thrill of receiving graduation advice many times. 



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