Advice To New Graduates: If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Today is my 46th birthday. I spent some time looking back on where I am at, where am I going, how I got here, and what I would do differently if I could talk to the younger version of me.

I am not the wisest person in the world but in my 46 years, I have experienced and learned quite a bit. Some I have learned the easy way while some I have learned through many tears shed.

If I could give the younger version of me some advice, it would probably sound something like this:

Learn to apologize quickly and mean it when you say, “I am sorry.” Being humble is not a bad thing. There will be plenty of times when you are wrong. It’s hard for someone to stay mad at you when you say, “I am sorry. Please forgive me.”

Pray to God asking for His help and guidance first before going to your friends for advice. People aren’t always right and they sometimes will steer you in a direction that is not a good one.

Find the joy in your career. Work is work but it doesn’t have to be a prison sentence. I have been doing the same job for the last 25 years. It’s all I have ever known in my adult life. Even though I am experiencing some burnout now, some of the best times I have had have been at the firehouse. Some of the best meals have been there, too.


Don’t do things just for money. What I mean is, don’t have that become an idol in your life. There are a lot of things more important than money. Matter of fact, most things are more important than money. Spend time with your friends and family.  Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Accept the fact that you do not know everything and that someone else might have a better way of doing something. This goes back to being humble.

It’s never to late to go back to school. I started pursuing being a firefighter/paramedic right out of high school. At the time, you didn’t need college. Later in my career, I decided to pursue my degree in Bible Studies. It’s taken a long time but I am graduating this December.

Learn from the past so you don’t make the same mistakes again. There are certain things in my life that I am ashamed and embarrassed that I did. I had a failed marriage in which I certainly own my share of the blame.  I also look back at other experiences that if I could do again, I would certainly handle them differently. I guess that is what growing up is all about.

Don’t take your health for granted. I was cruising along fine in life, in pretty decent condition when I got diagnosed with a brain tumor. Then 5 years later, I got diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. While I am now 12 years cancer free, I am always aware that a healthy life can become an unhealthy life in a blink of an eye.

Never sell yourself short in what you can accomplish. I am 5’6 (5’7 on a good day), weigh about 185 pounds, and I don’t have much in the athletic ability field. When I got done with chemotherapy, I decided to take on the Chicago Marathon. I have now completed 21 marathons and an Ironman. I believe that God will give you the strength to do things you never thought you would be able to do. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Don’t try to control everything. Let go and let God. He knows what we need better than we know ourselves. Trust Him.  Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

You can never laugh enough. When looking for a life partner, if you can find someone you can laugh with, you are ahead of the curve.

Well, that’s all I got for now. Keep your eyes focused on The Lord and glorifying Him, and you’ll be fine. There will be times of trouble but remember to lean on Him then, too.

Oh, one more thing. Never pass up the opportunity for a nap. Naps rock!


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