What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?

Marilyn Tam
3 min readJan 12, 2024

As you look over the road in front of you, remember how you regard the situation is what determines how you feel and how you deal with life. Trust that you will prevail.

Woman dressed in academic regalia speaking at lectern with two seated rows of similarly dressed professors behind her.
Commencement speech, how do you inspire, motivate and support graduates on their new life? How do you do the same for yourself each day?

“What are you going to do with your life?” I asked in my commencement speech to the University graduates in the packed Shrine Auditorium, LA, CA, a while ago. They have just completed one of the hardest, and most difficult thing they will ever do — attending University, working, and in many cases supporting a family, all at the same time. Now they are eager to move forward with their shiny new diplomas to better their lives. And what about you? You too can graduate from whatever you’ve learned in the last year and to take your hard-earned lessons and tools to better yourself in the new year.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Woman standing at the edge of a large empty paved area, looking at the city way down below.
Looking at the opportunities and challenges ahead, how are you going to move forward?

Last year you did the best you could at the time, and you won some and lost some. With your new hindsight, knowledge, and skills, you can make this new year better than last. Do you know what was the most valuable thing you gained from last year? It’s the ability to think more strategically. No matter whether you felt like you had a successful year or not, you can take the lessons and skills you learned from your experiences. What worked? What didn’t? Did you act too impulsively? Or did you deliberate too long and lost opportunities? How can you do better next time? What are the insights you’ve gained from them?

I told the graduates that they were entering a world fraught with many challenges and dangers; the problems they encounter are often not of their making. It is a lesson in life to accept that life sometimes just doesn’t seem fair. However, the way we deal with our current situation is up to us. We can moan and berate the world for being stacked against us, or we can figure out how to navigate the life maze and forge a path that best serves us and humanity at large.

We are in a turbulent and uncertain social, environmental, and economic time…

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Marilyn Tam

Marilyn Tam, global speaker, best selling author (The Happiness Choice), business leader and humanitarian. Formerly the CEO of Aveda, President Reebok, VP Nike