By Guest Blogger Keith Tilley

When I think about the advice I’d like to give this year’s graduating class, it comes from a position of experience. If you want to know how to go somewhere, ask someone who’s been there. If you want to make something, ask someone who’s made it before. If you want to fix something, ask a person who knows how to fix it. You understand what I’m getting at here.

So, if you want advice on what to do after graduation, take it from someone who’s been where you are right now: nervous, a little uncertain, hopeful about the future and excited about what’s to come.

Whether you’re graduating high school and eager to continue your journey into higher education; graduating college and contemplating what lies ahead in your career, fortunate enough to have a job opportunity to go straight into the workforce, or perhaps a little of both, my advice is the same…use no excuses and have no fear.

Don’t let excuses get in your way of doing what you want to do. Don’t let them hamper your pursuit of what you enjoy, or prevent you from taking the path you want to take. From this point forward for the rest of your life, you’ll always have opportunities to use excuses for why you can’t or don’t do the things you want to do. The list is endless, believe me. But don’t let that happen now; there will be plenty of time for that later on in life. As for now, while you’re young, eager, energetic, full of life, take this time to grab life by the horns and just hang on for the ride. If you have bumps in the road (which will inevitably happen from time to time), just keep taking steps forward. Some steps will be big, others will be tiny, but it doesn’t matter, because either way you’ll still be moving. It’s when you stop and stand still that life begins to pass you by, and that, my friends, can happen in the blink of an eye. At this age life is moving at a steady even pace, but as you grow older, each year life begins to speed up faster and faster. Eventually, it begins to feel like years are going by at the pace in which months did before. Later on, you’ll begin to find that making changes becomes a little bit harder than it is now, and that’s really when excuses can come into play. Unfortunately, a lot of those excuses will be valid then. So avoid that pitfall now and move forward in a direction toward doing, if not immediately, then eventually, what you want to do in life, whether professionally, or personally, or both. In that way when the “excuse time” comes, hopefully you’ll be so far ahead it won’t matter or be relevant to you.

As for the other half of my advice, right now I recommend you plow forward like a bull in a china shop and have no fear! Your experiences at the moment are limited; so, believe me, you don’t know enough yet to be afraid. That all comes later—it’s only after you’ve experienced the true ups and downs of life that fear begins to creep into your decision-making. Responsibility begins to feed your fears; responsibility to yourself, your spouse or significant other and your children—the list goes on. But for now, you have none of that, so you have neither the time nor life experiences to let fear be a part of your vocabulary. So don’t let it be. You are stronger than you could ever imagine. You have abilities that haven’t even been tapped yet. You’ll do and achieve things in life that you aren’t even close to understanding at this time. So be your best cheerleader instead of your worst critic.

All of this you can do if you try. You have it within you. There’s no need for excuses, no need for fear, because life will lead you where you’re supposed to be; as for now, just open the door and walk outside, the world is waiting.

CONGRATULATIONS go out to all the graduates of 2016 and to their parents, who stood by them along the way. May your future be bright and your glass ALWAYS be half-full!

*This article was reprinted with permission from Forsyth Family magazine