One of the simplest long term keys to success is to be pragmatic about what you do with your life. Yes, risk taking is where one encounters adventures and can often reap the most surprising rewards, but there is also so much room for failure when taking extreme risks. There's a time and a place for trusting your gut and being a risk taker, but when it comes to daily life I'd say we should all be a little more cautious.
Where is all of this coming from, you may ask? I've come to realize that even the best things can become too excessive. It's like finding a new food you love and eating it every day for lunch: it gets old.
By taking a step back and looking at the more pragmatic thing to do in our daily lives, it leaves room for all sorts of acceptance and even more social and professional opportunities in your daily life. Whether it's choosing a future career, trying to choose a side in an argument, or simply trying to decide what to do with your day, it's best to keep all your options open for as long as possible. Why? Because as soon as you figure out what you truly want to do, you need to take your passion and run with it.
College is the perfect time to practice this, as most students are just becoming independent for the first time. We went from having our lives and schedules laid out for us in high school to having all the freedom in the world (and very little obligations to go with it) in college. Although this certainly leaves room for a surplus of mistakes, which quite frankly should be made in college, it also gives you the opportunity to shape your life into what you want it to be.
However, it's hard to do what you want and follow your passions if you're already locked in to previous obligations. So, to all my upcoming and current college first-years out there, take as many classes as you can. Find out what courses interest you an take more courses in those areas before completely committing yourself to a certain career path. If you remain impartial to your decision about a major until you are certain you are on the right path, you won't find yourself a second-semester junior thinking that they chose the wrong career path.
The quality of being pragmatic isn't limited to your academic career either. In fact, it can be applied to almost everything. Our nation is divided now more than ever over politics, so listen to various viewpoints on hot-button topics so that you can develop your own views and passions. If someone disagrees with what you initially thought, hear them out and try to understand their viewpoint.
By not conforming yourself to what you or your peers think you should be-- and instead constantly keeping your mind open to new ideas-- you will be in a better position to grow both socially and intellectually as a human being. It's closed-mindedness that is leading to such difference-based travesties within our society, and it's about time that we start learning how to compromise and make this world one we can all live in happily.