You Graduated... Now, What? (10 Steps to Building Your Life on Purpose)

06/26/2015 03:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2016
Bounce via Getty Images

I watched as my students picked up their cap and gown and carried it in their arms like a newborn baby. I smiled, said a few last words of encouragement, then asked, "You graduated... now what?"

Most talked about college. Many laughed about building a bonfire with their textbooks. Some just wanted to sleep.

What I realized is that for the first time in their lives, my students have a choice.

Instead of having to go to school, they could choose to go to school. If they want to work, they could choose to work. And if they want to dream, they could choose to pursue their dreams.

The act of choosing, however, can be overwhelming -- especially since the school system design does little to build a student's autonomy. Great teachers, principals, and parents can only do so much with an outdated school design.

So, like most teachers, I want to help my students one last time as they embark on their journey.

I interviewed successful business leaders, changemakers, and entrepreneurs and asked them to share tips to help graduating students become self-reliant and happy.

If you prefer to listen, here's a 10-step audio podcast I put together to help guide students in building their life on purpose.

10 Quick Tips for Graduating Students To Build a Life on Purpose

1. Write Your Legacy

Literally write out what your future Wikipedia page would say about you. This envisioning technique helps concretize what you desire to accomplish. Doing so helps clarify your daily actions and decisions so that they match up with your vision.

2. Find Your Why

The "Why" is the reason behind what you want to build in your life. It's a unique mashup of finding the thread that ties your story together, your unique skill set, and what the world really needs.

Two ways to define your "Why" include having as many conversations with role models as possible along with journaling out your thoughts through a daily five-minute journal.

3. Set Goals and Build a Quest

Now that you have an idea of your "Why" and the legacy you want to build, start to build goals that help you get there. SMARTER goals help clarify this. These are smart, specific, actionable, realistic, time-based goals that you then evaluate and revise upon.

Longer-term goals that require a lot of work to get done are quests. For instance, a quest could be: "I want to visit every country in the world by age 35" like Chris Guillebeau jotted down for one of his life's goals. And yes, he accomplished that quest of a goal.

4. Mentors And Why You Need Them

You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with mentors and learn from role models who embody what you want to become in your life.

Consider virtual role models as well as in-person mentors. Virtual role-models are those you may not be able to speak directly with, but you can learn from through their blogs and website. You can also see how their dots connect by looking at their Linkedin or other social media profiles.

5. Build a Mastermind Group

There's power in collaborating. That said, find about 3-5 people that have similar ambition as you and meet for one hour a week to share something that you are working on, a struggle that you are having, and a success you had that week. These could be virtual meetings or in-person.

6. Visualize The End Game

Literally create a series of pictures and words that align with what you want to create in your life. Post this on your wall, share it with your friends, or do what Natalie Sisson (a.k.a. The Suitcase Entrepreneur) did and create a slideshow to share with the world.

Doing this serves as a daily reminder along with allowing other people in the world to help you on your journey.

7. Purpose Over Profit

Many students crave to make a lot of money. That's great. Money can be a tremendously valuable vehicle to drive tremendous impact in the world.

Money, however, tends to be a weak extrinsic motivator that seldom leads to lasting happiness.

Purpose, on the other hand, pushes someone far more because the motivation comes from the inside.

8. Forget The Resume and Build an Epic Eulogy

Your GPA means far less than what you create in life. Taking the time to complete a life plan puts you in charge of your story. It allows you to be the driver instead of a passenger in someone else's car. Doing this helps you be clear in your direction along with building an epic eulogy.

9. Share Your Bucket List

Writing out a bucket list of things you want to do in your life is a great start at thinking BIG and sucking out the marrow in life as Thoreau would say.

If you create one, share it with those you love most in your life. That way, they could help you complete the items on your list. Doing this helps strengthen and grow a long-lasting relationship.

10. Hack Your Habits

While biology and a person's genetic makeup does play a role, the largest determining factor in achieving peak potential is a person's habits. Achieving your greatest potential comes from habits that over time build to something amazing.

When it comes to habits, it's critical to consider your morning ritual. What will you do with your first 30 or 60 minutes in the morning?

If the first thing you do in the morning helps you grow as a person, then you'll make better and more focused decisions throughout the day.


Here's a free life-plan template (no email opt-in required) you can download that goes along with these tips and the 10-step audio podcast. If you'd like to join my newsletter where I share more tips on purpose, you can do so by clicking here.