I just returned from a graduation ceremony in Washington D.C.  It got me thinking about advice that might have been helpful to my younger self as I left high school or college.

It wouldn’t be dare to dream, be yourself, or follow your passion. Nothing wrong with those platitudes, they’ve stuck around for a reason. But they’re not thought provoking enough nowadays to merit much attention. Looking back, here’s some advice that might actually be useful if you’re just starting out or transitioning to the next level:

  • Find a financial advisor before you need one.
  • Buy used cars more often than new ones.
  • Hide a spare house key.
  • Take care of your teeth.
  • Learn to embrace delayed gratification.

Regarding the last point (maybe the most important of all) don’t worry too much about landing the job of your dreams right now. Have a little patience and, eventually, you’ll get there. Think about those kids in the famous Stanford “marshmallow experiment” who were given the choice of one marshmallow now or two marshmallows in 15 minutes. The kids who could handle a bit of delayed gratification – I know, 15 minutes seems like a lifetime in our world of instant downloads – were ultimately more successful in work and life.

So, slow down. Enjoy the road ahead all of you new grads, grown-up professionals, and late-in-life bloomers (like me). You’ll reach your destination in due course. Just in time to set a new one…