To the Graduating Class of 2021

Last week, I reconnected with a past intern over dinner. As we enjoyed burgers and talked about her new life as a recent graduate, I saw so much of my younger self in her. She is ambitious, eager, and capable. I also recognized many of her early career struggles; tired, underpaid, and already feeling the pull of imbalance.

As many young people graduate this month and begin new chapters, I encourage us to consider what we are teaching them. Have we taught them to value time, money, or something else? When they look to us, even if only unconsciously, do they see what we want them to mirror? Are we setting them up for lives of balance or burnout? We always want the next generation to do and have it better than we did. Instead of just hoping their lives are better, let’s consider how we can help them make it better.

As you pen a card or offer a word of advice to the recent graduates in your life, I encourage you to impart on them some of the following themes:

  • How you spend your day is how you spend your life.
  • Work-life balance is real, but not something that will be handed to you.
  • Job Love exists.
  • You are allowed to say no.
  • You can always make more money. You can never make more time.  

Of course, our personal experiences shape us and many of these grads will learn from the school of life. However, you would be surprised how much we teach them even without realizing it.

As I polished off my fries, my intern told me about a conversation in which co-workers griped that work-life balance did not exist. Without a bit of hesitation, she boldly spoke up and informed them of their incorrect information. She proudly stated that was a false limiting belief and they could, in fact, find balance if they wanted it. In that moment, with fry in hand, I was equally proud of her and beyond hopeful for her future.

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