Navigating YOUR success!

I want to help YOU map your life.
I, am not going to map YOUR life. YOU, are going to map YOUR life.
When I say map your life, I mean forecasting your goals to stabilize you in the next phase of life. Your plan won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. You will make it perfect with a little hard work. I won’t promise it will be easy but I promise it will be something you won’t give up on after you start your plan. It will be your plan. Whether you start your plan now or a little later, the key is you must start your plan. I want to help you understand that the first step has to be completed by you and only YOU. The quicker you understand how significant having a plan is going to be in your life, the faster you want to work at it and grow your plan. Your successes and opportunities will tell you that your plan is working.  It will feel awesome.
This is just the first step of many steps but once you take it, you won’t need to look back. If you ever look back, look back to remember where you were and how you’ve changed. There will be plenty of examples of what you could’ve been if you didn’t take that step. They will be on those corners in the neighborhood, they will be on the couch with a game controller in their hands, they will be in jail, they will be under the influence, they will no longer represent you.
You have to make this plan for you, these are your goals, these are your dreams, you can make them your life.
This is a plan but these are some things you might want to think about in stages.
16 years old:
Start thinking about starting a going to college, the military or a trade school. Figure out what you like to do. If you can get paid to do it, that’s like heaven on Earth. Think about starting your own business, don’t rule that out either. Think about that next step. Yes, “college ain’t for everyone” but I’m 43 now. I know people that are going back to school to get their undergraduate degree NOW. Yes it’s a little late but that’s why I’m telling YOU to do it now. Get a degree finish all that schooling before you turn 25 or if you get your PhD or Master’s degree, get it out the way by the time you turn 28.  The previous 10 years of your life, people have been saying what? “Do good in school!” Well this is why, you have to apply what you’ve learned. Think about what schools you want to send your transcripts to, what branch of service appeals to you, think about that next step NOW.
Visit some college campuses, see and talk to students two years older than you and look at what they are doing on campus. See yourself in that role, reach for it, go for it. These college tours costs about $40.00. Do me a favor, avoid splurging on that latest pair of “Jordans” and put yourself in a new environment. You might will like it. If you don’t like it you might have a nervous energy that you may mistake as fear. It’s not fear, it’s just the realization that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it’s an opportunity to make your life better. A changing point in my life was when my friends were going to “I Love Morgan Day” it was in the year 1991 I think  and my buddy T and his cousin A were driving down to Baltimore. T was playing ball for the Air Force and was thinking about transferring to Morgan State University and his cousin Adrian was thinking about transferring too. I didn’t know what kind of school Morgan was but it was a free ride to Baltimore for the day and I didn’t have any other plans that day. I had no expectations of attending Morgan or any college for that matter, but when we got there my eyes were OPENED. I had a 2 year degree but a four year college was definitely the next step for me. They had a campus, I could go where I wanted to go, women had their own rooms, no boys were allowed, but they had windows, LOL. It was like a city of people my age and they all had a plan. Looking back, college was definitely the funnest time of my life.
Another thing, learn to drive! Not just so you can drive to the prom(if your uncle rents a car for you), but just so you have legal identification. You have something that starts to validate you as a person, it’s small but significant. Give that wallet some meaning. When I turned 16, I had this thought in my head that someone was going to buy me a car for my birthday. It didn’t happen, more importantly, no one was willing to sit beside me while I drove their car. My boarding school paid for lessons for me…so I was lucky yet again.
Let me tell all you young men now, this is your life, don’t let someone, anyone talk you out of this. Don’t stay in this box of the unknown cause you’re scared…if you stay scared you will NEVER know. Welcome the fear and push past it. There are adults that are my age that are STILL scared because they didn’t take that first step to explore the possibility. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in a new environment, it matures you. You have to do this…this is life, you can’t become a better man if you don’t put yourself in new environments. There’s a statement I heard and like, “Leaders put themselves in situations, followers simply won’t.” I forgot who said it…sorry but you know what I mean. People told me, “College is for white kids.” or  “The military ain’t for a black man.” If I listened to that, I’d probably still be in Philly living with my mother in HER house.
17 years old:
Please have an idea of what college you’re going to attend, retake the SATs if you want. Try to get a better score. Think about that business, get an LLC…why not? Remember I said get driving lessons, well, with a driver’s license you can rent a car.  My uncle did rent me a car because I had a license. Me, my date and my friends drove to the prom, the insurance cost more per day because I was under 25 years old but the experience was something I would never forget and you won’t either. I rented a car, drove to the prom, drove to Atlantic City with my friends, who rented cars, slept in the cars after walking around the casinos for hours in our tuxedos, and came home the next morning. The next day went all drove to Six Flags in our rented cars We survived the weekend hyped up on 2 hours of sleep and adrenalin from owning a sliver of independence. It was the most fun I had in my life…and I was just turning 18.
18 years old:
First, don’t get anyone pregnant!!! I should have said this for 15, 16, and 17 years old.  When you start to succeed in your plan, people will want you to remain who you are to them, they won’t want you to leave. Get a passport.
Those same people that said, “College is for white kids.” or  “The military ain’t for a black man.” Where are they now? I’ll tell you where they are, the same place they were when they told you last year and they will be there when you return. Those people will still being trying to convince you to not pursue your dreams as you’re achieving them; when you’re walking across the stage to get handed your degree, when you signing your acceptance letter to your job, when you’re signing you contract papers for your home, when you set up your own business and when you get married.
I’ll give you few things to consider when creating a plan.
Try not to do anything the prevents or limits your opportunities tomorrow. For example, getting a tattoo or your face or neck, just don’t do it. Don’t get arrested for anything, the record will follow you. Pay your bills, or at least call the companies that gave you credit. Lastly, don’t let anyone convince you to give up on your dream because they gave up on theirs.
Ralph Marston

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