Graduation is over for another year. Whew!

Crawfordsville, North Montgomery and Southmont all turned their tassels this past weekend. That is an ocean of mortar boards and gowns.

It was an excellent time to celebrate the accomplishment of graduation; now it's time to look forward.

High school graduates, you have formed habits and ideas that will both help and hinder you in the year ahead as you get on with your lives.

Are you the party person? That probably served you well in high school and it will probably enhance your social life in college. But after college or even next week when you start a new job, partying is not going to be a trait that will help you succeed, however you define success.

Are you lazy? It might have been funny to your friends to watch you slide by academically. When you are working, laziness will not be cute to your co-workers and especially not to your boss.

Are you an overachiever? Yes, that will impress your boss but it won't help you when you're off the clock. Now that you are grown up, take time to stop and enjoy life. Fall in love. Develop a hobby. Volunteer to serve in a church or charity that needs your services. Make life better for those around you as you climb that ladder of success.

All of this takes planning.

I know one dad who has his kids' lives all planned out. One daughter will become a homemaker, one child will be a veterinarian and another will be an engineer. He knows what church they will belong to.

That's not a bad plan but the kids are under age 3. I wonder what will happen when the kids rebel and say, "Daddy, that's not for me."

Whether you follow your parents' plan or your own, you will want to plan for the future.

The challenge is for you to overcome what has held you back through high school. Even if you graduated at the top of your class, you must realize you are now competing with many times the number of students in your senior class, whether you go to college, the military or join the work force. That means being at the top of your game.

At age 60 I realize I have made many changes in my attitudes that have been positive and have served me well. I still work to change those things that hold me back.

I wish I would have made many positive changes much earlier in life.

What changes?

One example; I would have sought a better education.

It's interesting that our company has been built on three priorities: Legendary customer service, local news and community service. Recently, a fourth priority was added: Continuing education.

Another example: When I was growing up I would have spent less time in front of the TV and more time studying and memorizing important parts of my lessons. Past generations called that learning by rote and it is still the best way to master important facts.

As you look ahead to your late teens and 20s, don't be afraid to explore life. For me, my college years were a time for learning who I was as well as how this world works.

I worked at a variety of jobs while going through college. I delivered newspapers on a 60-mile route. I even sold snow cones door to door! Not really, but I drove a little Cushman three-wheel scooter and rang a bell. Quickly I learned to find crowds at ball games and other events on those warm summer evenings. Each snow cone sold for 15 cents. One nickel went to the owner, one nickel went for maintenance of the scooter and I made a nickel "commission." I quickly learned how to sell enough snow cones to make $35 or more a night. Not bad when gas was less than $1 a gallon!

I worked as a radio DJ, in radio news and I wrote and sold articles on the freelance market.

Probably the most helpful thing I did in my exploration was to sell Amway products. Not because I made a lot of money (I didn't, but I could.) The training materials were the best part of my Amway experience. The company offered excellent motivational tapes and books. They were good to listen to and read because they helped clean out the stinking thinking and replace those ideas with positive thought on life and work.

There is much education that takes place outside the classroom and library.

Never turn your back on your family and friends who helped you as you were growing up, but don't be afraid to improve on the person you were while you were growing up. You are in charge of your destiny. You are not limited by your past.



Frank Phillips has observed and reported on Central Indiana news for nearly 20 years, many of those years as a newspaper editor at The Paper and in Brazil. He began a free lance writing career in 1971. His e-mail address is fphillips@thepaper24-7.com.