Reality Check: Commencement

It’s graduation season! Congratulations to all of the graduates who are about to embark on a new phase in your lives.
Perhaps this isn’t graduation time for you. Maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve felt like you’ve had a significant accomplishment. In fact, just carrying on with regular life right now might seem challenging enough.
Regardless, today is as good a time as any to think about new beginnings; you might call it a commencement. What sentiments come up at commencement ceremonies?
Commencement is a great time to look at where we are, to appreciate the people who have supported and encouraged us along the way, and to focus on where we want to go.
Step back from the rush of everyday activities and ask, “What do I really want? What do I really value? What kind of life do I want to live? With whom do I want to spend my time?”
Then listen to your answers. You may find that the decisions you have been making and the direction you are headed is exactly as you would like it to be. Or maybe it needs some tweaking. Or a complete turn-around.
We make decisions all the time; big ones and tiny ones. When we’re clear about our wants and our values, it’s easier to make decisions that are consistent with our ultimate goals.
What else might happen at commencement?
It’s an opportunity to look both forward and backward. We are exposed to so much information, experience and influence. It can seem like too much to handle.
However, we can choose what we focus on. We can choose to filter our perceptions.
For example, we could focus on our hardships, missed opportunities, and people whom we perceive to have harmed us in some way.
Or we can focus on our possibilities and the supporters who have encouraged us and helped us in any way.
We have a choice as to where we put our energy and focus. It’s up to us. Which serves us better? You can decide.
Commencement is also a good time to choose to influence our luck. I’m sure you’ve heard that people who have a “Yes I can” attitude seem to have an easier time in life than those who only see barriers. What’s luck have to do with it?
Perhaps it’s by luck that you meet a person who offers you the job of your dreams. Or perhaps the product or service that you develop happens, luckily, to be ready for market at exactly the time that society discovers a desperate need for it. Luck appears to play a role.
I doubt we can control the luck that finds us. But we can prepare. That dream employer will only hire you if you are ready with skills, knowledge and attitude. Your product/service can only be ready for market if you’ve been working on it.
Cause and effect can be hard to pin down. Does being the beneficiary of good luck make it easier to have a gung-ho attitude? Probably. Or is it your great attitude that attracts good luck? Maybe that’s true, too.
It’s safe to say that we have more direct control over our attitudes than we have over our luck. So we may as well work with what we can control—ourselves—rather than hoping for luck or resenting someone else’s perceived good luck.
We commence a new day, every day, but there are only a few days when we formally recognize achievement. To the new grads on your commencement day, congratulations on your achievement.
A commencement also offers something of value for the rest of us. Whenever we face difficulty and persist through discouragement, we build something of value in ourselves. We achieve.
What are you commencing?

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