DEAR 18-YEAR-OLD: You may be better educated and more intelligent than me. You may have more potential. But for sure you don’t have more experience. I have 60 years on you, so—as hard as it may be—take my advice:
- There are no guarantees in life. You have to make of it what you will. Never give up.
- You will have obstacles placed before you. You will be treated unfairly. You will have to deal with less-than-honorable individuals. You will be slighted and overlooked at times. Get over it and move on.
- A college education gives you what you put into it. Obtaining a degree means nothing if you got that piece of paper simply by getting by.
- Once you’re hired for your first job, where you went to college is meaningless. It’s up to you to prove your value to your first and subsequent employers.
- Political rhetoric about inequality is irrelevant to you. There are as many opportunities today as there have ever been, perhaps more. If money is your goal, there’s no reason you can’t make it. But it will take drive, creativity, effort, dedication and perseverance. Look within, not without.
- If you seek a career that isn’t about money, but rather about things more important to you—service to others, the arts—that’s fine. Just know there’s a price to be paid. Don’t envy others or expect more financial reward than your choices can deliver.
- The system is always rigged by some people and for some people. No denying it, it’s harder for some folks to get ahead. That’s always been the case and always will be. Ignore it.
- Eschew seeking what you feel you’re entitled to, rather than what you earned. All you’re entitled to is stated in the Declaration of Independence.
- Take responsibility for your actions and choices. Keep a mirror handy.
- Be prudent with money. Always save first before you spend a single cent. Live within or below your means. Never pay credit-card interest. Avoid the accumulation of unnecessary stuff.
- Be aware. Pay attention to what’s happening in the world so you’re better prepared to separate fact from opinion.
- Plan ahead. Think long term. The future is not as far away as you may think.