3 things to do right after you graduate

For the class of 2019, graduation has passed, and whether you are finishing high school, college or graduate school, there are some things you need to do.

Celebrate. 

You have put a lot into this. But your family has too, both emotionally and probably financially. There is a great temptation to turn toward the friends you’ve been spending time with, but make the circle of celebration as large as you can.

Go out to dinner with your great aunt or have a cook out with the neighbors. Tell stories. Laugh a lot. And don’t make it all about you. Find out what has been happening in their lives. Ask questions. And listen to the answers. A graduation is like a wedding, just as much for family and guests as it is for the bride or groom, or in this case, you, the graduate. So make a speech (it’s one of the things you learned how to do) and welcome them into your new journey and thank them for their help.

Some of the people you need to thank aren’t around. So buy a box of actual note cards and write a few friends, relatives or teachers—thanking them for specific contributions to your achievement. This is too important for Facebook or Instagram. A card will cement lifelong relationships and be remembered, even treasured, more than any hug you exchanged at commencement. Or ay smiling selfie.

You didn’t get here by yourself. Invite others to celebrate and give them your attention.

Contemplate. 

Seriously, you probably already have forgotten whatever challenge your commencement speaker may have offered. But you should create a few of your own. There are new habits to be developed, weaknesses to overcome, contributions to make.

Remember philosophy class and Socrates: “an unexamined life is not worth living.“ Better yet remember Sunday School and Jesus: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45).”

So pause, reflect, consider. School taught you how to do that too. Or tried to.

Consecrate. 

To guard our heart is a life-long discipline. But it requires action. So make a list. Have a plan. Get out of the house and do something.

The temptation to take it easy is great. It’s hard not to feel you are entitled to a break. But you are to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called. And this has little to do with a job. Or school. It is the thoughtful stewardship of your gifts and potential.

If you are waiting for a job, find something to do, at home, at church, in the community. The investment you and others have made to get you to this point is enormous. Be gracious and intentional about paying it back. If you just finished college the loans aren’t due yet—but your most important obligations have already begun. The stakes are higher, the responsibilities greater, the opportunities inumerable.

So reach for them. Set your face like a flint toward the sacrifices you were born to make. In making them, you will bring joy to others and find joy for yourself.

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