Despite mainstream media reports about the U.S. economy making improvements - it has not - there is a lot for the graduates of 2016 to ponder. If you use the broadest definition of unemployment, the ratio of people over the age of 16 with jobs to the overall 16-and-over population, the Labor Department says that 40.6 percent of the population is unemployed.
It's easy to be discouraged but take heart, graduates of 2016. America's future is what you make it.
For what it's worth, I have some advice for graduates entering the world that still applies in a changing society.
First of all, as you plan your futures, plan to be an involved citizen. That means vote and vote intelligently. Candidates like Bernie Sanders promise to make things easier for you - offer you a lot of "free" stuff like free college - but run from them like hell. They are only pandering and only want to spend somebody else's money to pursue your vote. There is no such thing as a free lunch, or free college education. If it was free it wouldn't be worth anything. So when they suggest things like letting illegal aliens vote, tell them that they need to abide by the Constitution and quit trying to sell the country down the river.
Personally, get used to the real idea that no one is going to make it happen for you. Your parents can't and shouldn't do it for you. And certainly the government shouldn't either. If you want something in life, you must be intentional and as focused as a laser beam. And trust me, there is a world of distraction ready to break your concentration.
Graduate, it's time to grow up. You may enjoy playing video games and partying but I don't know anybody who makes money doing either. And you may think it's cool to invest hundreds of dollars in body piercings and tattoos to look cool, but they don't impress those who do the hiring.
Nope, sorry it's not all about you. You have not "arrived." It's quite rare for any of us to end up as a Bill Gates or a Walt Disney type. Humble yourself and picture yourself merely joining the end of a long line of soldiers who've been marching along, with those at the head of the line dropping off to the side, tired and dying.
Be a person of your word. Do what you say you will do and you'll stand out among a generation of promise breakers. Does anyone really have to tell you that you need to show up for work when you're scheduled to? Take responsibility and you'll be given responsibility. Do your best. If you work at Walmart, work as if you owned the company. Honestly, you'll feel better about yourself if you do your best, no matter if you feel you're underpaid for the work you do. People who do their best are often promoted.
Don't let others think for you. Challenge what the world tells you, especially those in the media.
Add some spiritual aspect to your life, God if you haven't already. The Bible is full of wisdom for life, not just preparation for the afterlife. He who dies with the most toys still dies.
Take care of your body; it's the only one you'll get in this life. Seems like a no-brainer for a 20-something but take a look around and see how many people who two or three decades later are pathetic physical specimens because of smoking, drug use, lack of exercise, lousy food choices and sleep deprivation.
Practice physical and mental disciplines. Practice the art of denying yourself at least once a day.
Do something every now and then that challenges your comfort zone. Routine is the enemy of creativity.
Be respectful of others. Ever hear of the Golden Rule?
Appreciate what you've got. Studies reveal that happy people tend to be grateful for the little things in life. Smile. Have a personality that people want to be around. Don't live life so fast that you fail to smile when a child bats bashful eyes at you. Or that you fail to see flowers along the side of the road. And it goes without saying that you should say "I love you" to family and close friends. Live without regrets.
Get outside of yourself and see the world. We live in a world of people who only love themselves. Trouble is they don't love others. Volunteer for a worthy cause. You'll be amazed at how your open eyes - and heart - will see need and want to help others.
Consider yourself blessed for the opportunity you have in the U.S. Whenever you feel sorry about your position in life, realize you're wealthy by world standards.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org