12 Things Every Graduate Needs To Hear

Looking back on my graduation season there are many nuggets of wisdom I wish I would have received and taken to heart. I think about the trails I could have blazed long, long ago. But the truth is, I wouldn’t trade one moment of the life that has taught me such valuable lessons.

I hope you might share these with a graduate you know and care about.

1. Have A Life Filter

Your choices take you where you want to go.

I like this quote. This is the filter I wish I had applied all of my life choices to.

“In light of your past experiences, current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams what is the wise thing to do?”— Andy Stanley

2. Realize Time Is Short

Whatever you say yes to means that you say no to something else.

Make your yes count.

This applies to how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and what you do with the time you’re given. Every day is a gift, treat it as such.

Whatever you say yes to should meet your life values and fit your filter.

Time is short, so make it count.

3. If You Can’t Pay Cash For It You Can’t Afford It

Take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Not once, but two or three times. Whatever it takes to follow the plan.

In fact, I think it should be a required course in high school, college, and when you hit 30.

If you know nothing else, know that the FICO score is an “I love debt” score and is not a measure of winning financially.

You don’t need a FICO score.

“You will either learn to manage money or the lack of it will always manage you”. –Dave Ramsey

4. Build a Board of Directors of You

Those who have walked before us can have incredible wisdom and insight when it comes to making big life decisions. They can teach us and impact us in meaningful ways.

It’s important to build your personal board of directors over time. These are people you’ll encounter over the course of your life, maybe in educational and professional settings. They’re those people you see sort of as mentors, maybe a boss, people you interact with over the course of life.

This board of ‘you’ needs to be cultivated. So as you move on don’t loose touch. Nurture the relationships. I promise you this will pay off in dividends.

They’ll be there for you when you need guidance, a recommendation, or a foot in the door.

You’ll add members to this important role throughout your life, be it through job experiences, volunteer work, past teachers or mentors. These relationships are invaluable.

Who is already on your Board of Directors?

When’s the last time you touched base with them and do they know where you are or what your plans are?

5. Know Your Life Values

Determine your values and don’t compromise them.

Know what your deal killers are. Then stand firm.

6. Never Stop Learning

Evolve. Be it in your business or with a hobby, never stop learning. Stay sharp and stay competitive.

7. Choose Carefully What You See and Say

You Can’t un-see and un-say.

Words can help or hurt so choose your words wisely because you can’t unsay them.

The same holds true with what you see. We can’t un-see things, images will stick with you forever.

Choose carefully what you expose yourself to.

8. Invest Early

When you get a job at a company that offers a 401k or 403b, contribute to it. I don’t care if it’s a minimum percentage. Just do it.

When you’re 40 you’ll be glad you did.

And if you’re thinking I may or may not be there that long, it transfers and it can go with you.

Set it and forget it. You’ll be happy with this choice in the long run.

9. Filter What You Share

Snap, Pin, Gram, Tweet or Post. We all share life on our social media channels. Employ a filter every time.

I call it the Granny filter. Would your grandmother be happy with you and comfortable with what you said or posted on social media?

Remember when it’s on the Internet, it never goes away.

In the heat of the moment and you want to publish it for all the world to see, breathe for one minute and think twice. Consider what you ‘like’. Be careful.

Your social reputation will follow you forever.

10. Surround Yourself With the Right People

Choose your friends wisely.

If those around you don’t support you, make you a better person in some way, or lift you up, make a change in who you’re hanging around with.

Surround yourself with people who make you better, challenge you, and encourage you.

11. Comparison Kills

There will always be someone prettier than you, smarter than you, someone who can out run you and someone who has more than you do. There is no winner in the comparison game.

Know what pushes your envy button and avoid it. Envy is a wildfire always consuming and never quenched.

Instead focus on you. Count your own blessings. Suffocate the flames of envy with a blanket of gratitude.

12. Make The Main Thing, The Main Thing

Whatever it is that you’re after, make it the main thing and go after it with all you’ve got. Whether it’s finding a job, getting out of debt, loosing weight, getting a promotion, go after it with intensity. Full on, not part on.

You’ll get there faster when you set your intentions and make it your main thing.


  1. I think this is good advice, however I will say one thing about debt. I think it’s not reasonable to expect someone, especially right out of college, to be able to afford a car. For my career we are required to have a car to get to client sites and I wanted something safe and reliable. I have a car loan but I can afford the monthly payments and I think that having this piece of debt does not mean I’m not financially stable. However, having credit card debt is another story.

    Anyways, great advice, congrats to this year’s graduates.

    Laura | Laura Aime Vous

    • Thank you Laura for taking a read. I think I’ll probably always have a car payment for the same reasons. Your blog is beautiful by the way! Thanks again! Tracy

  2. You had me at #3 haha I made some serious financial mistakes between the ages of 18 and 21. Then I married my husband and now, three years later, I’ve FINALLY fixed my credit score. I went from having a 590 credit score at the age of 21 to a 710 at the age of 24. Not too shabby lol but I cannot stress enough the importance of paying for things with real money! I have friends who are constantly using cards and I cringe every single time haha great tips!

    Keating | Keating & Co.

    • Wow that is excellent Keating! I need to work on it too. Thank you for stopping by! Tracy PS: I’m a fan of yours:)

  3. Love this post. Great advice for anyone facing a major life change. Be careful what you share (even offline) for a blogger I’m still very private about certain aspects of my life and it has made them even better. Also I was just saying earlier how the right people in your life can make a huge difference.

  4. Love this! We teach our teens so much in school, but these life lessons need to be emphasized, too.

  5. Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working
    with? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style
    seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask! http://www.yahoo.net/

    • Hi Jona, I love writing in Word Press, it’s pretty user friendly. I also use one of their complimentary themes. Hope that helps! Thank you for stopping by. Tracy

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