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Whether you are a new college graduate just embarking on your business career or a seasoned veteran who just needs a little perspective, late spring is the time for commencements, a time for reflecting and beginning anew. In actual graduation ceremonies, commencement speakers often offer new graduates and their family and friends important advice that runs the spectrum from career development advice to important life lessons. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal enumerates the “10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You” and offers some helpful advice to people of all ages that can be reinterpreted to aid in career development.

1. Maintain Work-Life Balance

According to the article, one of the reasons that people struggle with work-life balance is that the only place where people are specifically evaluated in terms of performance, time investment, and the like is in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean that we should be less invested in our families, our friendships, or our lives outside of work. One of the many reasons why it is crucial that we invest in our lives and relationships beyond the office is that according to the Wall Street Journal, “research tells us that one of the most important causal factors associated with happiness and well-being is your meaningful connections with other human beings. “ So no matter how many hours you put into the office, if you aren’t making and maintaining human connections, you are not likely to be very happy in the process.

2. Take Risks

Part of being a person, part of being an adult is making mistakes and learning from them. According to the article, “interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.” This is an important career development lesson to absorb, that most people don’t start out with the perfect plan and carry it through to fruition without any detours along the way. In order to be successful, most people do make mistakes, make new plans, and learn to respond productively to unexpected challenges at home and at work. Most people’s paths are not straight and easy. In fact, Charles Wheelan asserts that, “if you are going to do anything worthwhile, you will face periods of grinding self-doubt and failure. Be prepared to work through them.”

3. Put Things in Perspective

If you are having a hard time at home or a hard time at work, sometimes the best thing to do is to step back to try to get a little perspective. Some people just need a little time to clear their heads. Other people ask themselves whether this problem will still affect their lives in a week, in a month, in a year, in five years. Wheelan recommends the “hit by a bus” rule: “Would I regret spending my life this way if I were to get hit by a bus next week or next year? And the important corollary: Does this path lead to a life I will be happy with and proud of in 10 or 20 years if I don’t get hit by a bus?”


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