Occasionally I get invited to speak to college students about life, money, and success.
In fact, I’m scheduled to do that tomorrow.
Here are the four reminders/suggestions I plan to share with them.
Die well. Soon after you arrived on campus, you realized, “Not everybody thinks the way I do.” That’s actually a good thing. We mature best in that kind of diverse, challenging environment.
But that doesn’t mean you put your mind in neutral, or to pretend that all beliefs and ideas have equal merit. That is certainly the spirit of the age, but it is also rubbish. Ideas should be analyzed and put to the test. The ones that ring true and can withstand rigorous scrutiny should be embraced.
But that’s the ideal. In reality, your classmates will leave this place seeing and interpreting the world in wildly different ways. Even so, there’s at least one truth all can agree on. One day, we will exit, not just this university, but this life. For that reason, we should want to die well.
How do we do that? That leads us to my second suggestion.
Live well. What does that phrase even mean? What does it look like to “have a good life”? Sadly, most students pick colleges, majors, jobs, even spouses without wrestling deeply with this question. (Despite the fact that one of the original purposes of a university was to get young minds to explore that very topic — “what is the good life?”)
If you aren’t sure how to answer the question, there are many advertisers, prosperity preachers, performers, politicians, social media influencers, etc. who are more than happy to give their opinion.
I suggest you start your own exploration of the good life by following a third suggestion.
Be whole. In my view, you’re made up of at least three overlapping facets. You are body, soul, and spirit. So is everyone else around you.
If you want to live a good life, you need to define what “good” means for each part of who you are. Leave out one dimension of your personhood and your experience will be fragmented. Incomplete. Unsatisfying.
Some people focus almost exclusively on their physical body, but pay scant attention to their spiritual growth. Others develop their minds, but not their emotional capacity to care for others. You get the idea.
The simple awareness that personhood involves a complex integration of body, mind, emotion, and spirit can help you begin to define what a good life looks like for you. So can the realization that these aspects of yourself are meant to cooperate, not compete, with each other.
That successful integration gets more important over time, because,
Life compounds. To impress upon my clients the importance of long-term investing, I often show them a compound interest chart depicting the growth of $100 invested at 8% interest over 40 years.
After 10 years, that $100 has become $197. After 20 years, it’s grown nearly 4x ($386). After 30 years, it’s approaching a return of 8x ($761). And after 40 years, it’s worth almost 15x the original investment ($1,497)!
In contrast, what happens if you carry a credit card balance of $500 long-term? Assuming an 18% interest rate, that $500 on your credit card will cost you over $2,000 over 10 years. Over 20 years, it will cost you some $13,000. Over 30 years, you’ll have paid $70,000 in interest. Carry that $500 balance for 40 years, and the cost is more than $375,000!
Life works like that. Good stuff often takes a while to show up in the win column. And bad stuff does mind-boggling damage over time.
Thankfully, we have the freedom to make choices.
This is why it’s foolish to abuse the only body you’ll ever have. And why it’s so important to develop your mind. It’s why you don’t want to neglect family relationships and friendships. Or put off what you believe about God (or more importantly, what God believes about you).
Those choices result in real consequences.
Next week, I’ll share the rest of my talk on things every college student should know.
Chances are you’re a few years (decades?) past college. That’s okay. I’ve written a book for you. It’s called How to Put Your Money Worries in the Rear View Mirror – The Financial Freedom Roadmap. It’s free if you’d like a copy. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send it to you right away.
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