In elementary school I loved those books where you get to decide what the main character does at various junctures and, depending on your choices, the protagonist either ends up discovering Ali Baba's lost cave of forbidden jewels, or gets eaten by crocodiles. I'm sure at the time I thought it was all in good fun and pretty radical compared to "real" life, but I no longer think the analogy is so extreme; in my experience (although I suppose we'll never truly know) the different outcomes depending on what you do or don't do at the crossroads can actually be pretty deadly.
Right now I find that I am staring at yet another one of those infamous junctures (which I'm pretty notorious for arriving at in rapid succession) since in a couple months I'm scheduled to don that flowing robe and funny square hat with its signature tassel to lay claim to a diploma that will publicly declare my newly-anointed status as a post-graduate (a MBA specifically). In terms of sound direction dispensed at the ceremony, I have little hope that my university's commencement speech will offer much practical advice about what I should do next, or even rise to the level rousing, so few do (something that my sister's recent graduation ceremony in June only re-established in my mind).
But, you know, good graduation speeches do exist; ones that you can listen to, and act on, and believe in, especially when they are delivered by a person who has legitimate grounds for preaching to thousands of fresh-faced, eager, and dying-to-be somebodies. The commencement speech I've pasted below, delivered by Steve Job's at Stanford in 2005, is such an address.
It's funny, while graduation signifies the ending of school, commencement means "the time at which something is supposed to begin." Supposed to begin. Can't that be almost any point at all? So I think, no matter where you are in life, consider choosing this "commencement" speech as yours. Set aside a nice chunk of time (it's fifteen minutes long, but once it gets rolling, it won't seem so) settle in, and expect to hear at least one piece of advice from Mr. Jobs that applies directly to you and your situation right now. That's right. YOUR situation. Right NOW. Maybe it will even help prevent you from being eaten by crocodiles.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Rohit for bringing this YouTube clip to my attention.