BySarah Marsanich, Griffith graduate &Geotechnical Engineer, AECOM, Brisbane

Notes from the speech presented by Sarah as guest speakerfor the Graduation ceremony at 7.00pm onMonday 9 December 2013 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Deputy Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Members of the Official Party, Ladies and Gentlemen and importantly Graduates. Firstly, congratulations to all of you on achieving your various degrees – I want to pay tribute not only to your own hard work, and that of your teachers, but to the support of your families, partners and friends.

This is a moment to bring you immense pride and joy, not only for yourselves but for those around you. Irrespective of what happened yesterday or over the past five years of your double major in Business and Science, and what may or may not happen tomorrow. You made it here today.

It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed with the responsibilities and goals in our lives. Many of us, and I am one, have spent much of our lives worrying about a variety of things.

Think right now.

How many of you feel anxious about your future careers and successful lives?

The disappointing fact is, that with all this future focus on worrying what will make us happy, we achieve milestones and move on without enjoying the moment. Many of you have probably not fully appreciated the achievement of completing your studies and have already moved on to the next goal of securing the perfect job. We have a way of being in our society, such that as soon as we get something, achieve something, most of us simply move onto the next thing. What this means is that we can miss out on really enjoying life’s achievements.

What I realised is in this mind set – being constantly future focused – something was missing from my everyday life. The goals I had planned to make me happy came and went, the someday I had dreamt of, the time to be happy and enjoy my achievements – never arrived – because I had already moved onto the next goal. I used to say that when I have this, then I will be satisfied.

Seize the day

I want to talk to you today about the importance of seizing the moment. I want to leave you with an appreciation of how right now, right in this exact moment, is the best time to be happy.

So reflecting on my journey of satisfaction — it all started last year. My complete future focus came to me when onsite in the bush. I had climbed to the top of a mountain with my supervisor to do some investigations. In that moment, positioned as a graduate engineer, being taught so generously, I stopped. I looked around me and for the first time I saw the sunlight of that summer afternoon, the endless span of the Australian bush, heard the sound of a river and embraced the teachings of my mentor. Most of all I felt completely present and grateful. For the first time I was exactly where I wanted to be. I realised that I had reached my ‘goal’ and I was the happiest I had ever been.

That was a fundamental shift in my way of being.

With this in mind, I still encourage you to always maintain a vision to help stay on track. You don’t need a rigid plan, but vision always helps you to choose what opportunities to take, or seek out the opportunities you want.

Whether I end up as CEO of a company like AECOM or decide to switch from engineering into business to run my own cupcake franchise – I don’t know. One thing that is certain, I will continue to base my decisions on what fulfils me now. I have a vision based off love, fierce ambition, happiness and success.

Embarking with your vision means you never know where your efforts will land you. For example – I have passion to connect industry and the university. This passion has resulted in some of the most unique experiences of my life. This was exemplified a year after graduating when I was asked to partake in Griffith Universities 2012 media campaign. This was an experience I never planned for — but my vision got me there. I was thrilled as well as daunted. I was soo worried about doing a good job that it was almost all over before I realised

“Oh my, I made it — I am actually here — I am on the red couch”!

I challenge you to do the same. Stop worrying about everything. Realise that you are on the red couch — you have made it. Enjoy that and use it to do the next thing that will make you happy.

As you move into the industry, remember that Griffith University is your foundation. Be proud of this. Develop this legacy. Continue to create the pride in your career as you have had here in your studies. Griffith’s reputation is increasing with each cohort of graduates, such as yourselves, entering the academic and vocational fields of your respective professions. Your reach and influence are far beyond what you can comprehend.

To complete my reflection —The Dalai Lama once said “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live”