Editor's Note: This column was originally published June 1, 2007.
Random thoughts for our graduates as they start a new life: Don't use credit cards. Your parents didn't start out with what they have today. Give back to your school. Our community needs stronger roots. That's you. Have a bit of your paycheck sent directly into a rainy-day savings account. That's in addition to the 401(k). As they say, "Pay yourself first." Do what Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) says: "Act your wage." There is much greater peace and satisfaction in saying, "I'm sorry, I can't afford that right now" than there is in juggling debt. Read "The Millionaire Next Door." Don't be anonymous. Don't say things without attaching your name and reputation to it. Think about your reputation. Act like you've got a mother. The biggest threat in the world is not nuclear bombs. It's selfishness. And that's something you can actually fix if you try hard enough. Being cool isn't always cool. A cool guy I ran with in high school was killed recently in a shoot-out with cops in a suburban discount store. Way cool, huh? Every professor and every boss is weird. Get over it. Don't gossip at work. Take solutions to your boss, not problems. Find your own ways to buck it up when you're down. Maybe it's wearing a nice shirt or dress. Showing and telling everything on Facebook is a bad idea. Old sayings are old sayings for good reason. You DO only get one chance to make a first impression. It IS better to give than receive. And honesty IS the best policy. If somebody cares enough about you to live with you, they should care enough about you to marry you. Why pour too much money into a wedding? Invest it in your first home. Use the high-tech device everyone overlooks: The "off" button. Don't make excuses. No matter what your race, creed, gender or ethnicity, you've been given a chance to succeed like no one before you. A good motto: "It's up to me." Not many people are going to appreciate your brilliance. Don't let it get you down. You're going to need a close relationship with a higher power. Possessions, fame and wealth are easy to come by compared to what will really bring you happiness: Forgiveness. Leave your home, school, church, temple, job and community better than you found it. Mind your own business. Be a contributor. Don't complain. Don't wish your life away. Don't borrow things. When lost, enjoy the scenery. Always tell the truth. Don't be common. Say "please," "thank you," "ma'am," and "sir." And remember that a lot of people helped you get this far. Pay them back by simply making good choices.
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.