Your Breakfast, Your Future

I was asked to write an article for "The Chronicle". I thought of writing something about your "future", but then I was told that my article should be two pages long, maximum! The problem is that I don’t even need that much space to talk to you about your future – your parents, professors, friends and even mere acquaintances have already told you a lot about it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if your hairdresser and Uber driver have already lectured you about the best (or worst) careers in Prague, and have a concrete idea about what you should do.

That’s not what I want to talk to you about. I want to talk to you about something completely different. Let me start by telling a story: on one of my trips out of Prague, I was sitting next to a gentleman who asked me for some career advice. Not really being in a psychologist mood, I asked him the cliché question, “let’s say you wake up ten years from now, what are you doing?” I was hoping that a career or two would pop up. He said, “I will be having my breakfast!”

As funny as the story seems, one cannot deny its truth. Even if you’re the president of the most famous university or the CEO of the most influential firm, you will still be having your breakfast in the morning.

When I decided to write about your future, I thought a lot about ways to avoid repeating what your friends and family have already told you. And then this story gave me the answer. This is exactly what I want to tell you. In your future, have your breakfast. Life will become more and more hectic as the days roll by. First you will be studying, then studying and working, then working, and then ultimately working and teaching others. Voluntary work, involvement in organizations, and family duties will add to the velocity of life, and before you know it… you will have skipped your breakfast.

In your very busy life full of universities, careers, and aspirations, do not forget the bare necessities of life. 

What I’m really trying to say is this: In your very busy life full of majors, universities, careers, and aspirations, do not forget the bare necessities of life. Do not forget to eat, sleep, spend time with your family, make new friends (but cherish the old ones), sing in the shower, pat a dog, smile at a little child, stick a post-it with a nice note on your colleague’s desk, smell a flower, run to the window every first rain of fall, and why not, call your great-aunt back home just to say hello.

And as for your immediate future, the spring semester, I would repeat the same advice: make sure to have your breakfast! In other words, take breaks, have a healthy snack every now and then, do things that you like, do NOT study 24 hours a day, call a friend and encourage each other, do some exercise, sing, listen to some nice, relaxing music, and enjoy yourself. After all, if you want to achieve good results, whether now at university or fifty years from now as your company merges with Mercedes-Benz or Czech Airlines, remember that in order to do the job properly, you need to relax and prepare yourself beforehand. As the famous story goes: a lumberjack was asked what he would do if he had eight hours to chop down an entire forest. He replied “For the first four hours, I would sharpen the saw”.

I really wish you all the best in your coming years. But please remember, when life gets too rapid, in all the hustle and bustle – don't forget to have your breakfast!

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