5 Tips On Navigating Life Post Graduation

Sadie Woller  |   Monday May. 1st, 2023

There isn’t any argument that achieving a milestone accomplishment such as graduating high school or college takes blood, sweat, and tears. But what happens after the celebration? Does life magically become better? Unfortunately, for most, the answer is no.
       As someone who graduated from both high school and college in the past ten years, I’ve learned a few things about the world after graduation. I’ve learned that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and that’s okay. Rather, knowing how to handle life when the rain pours and the lighting strikes is what matters. Because being able to navigate the storm is the only way you’ll see brighter forecasts in the future. Here are five tips I’ve learned over the years to help you navigate life after graduation.

Be Aggressive
After graduation, the world doesn’t magically become better unless you do something about it. Graduating is just a foot in the doorway to accomplishing better things. It’s not an invitation for things to be handed to you, for success to come knocking at your door. It’s just another tool to put in your toolbox or add to your resume. So make sure to be aggressive before and after graduation: Be aggressive about what you want to teach or accomplish, and about where you want to be in the next five years.
       But what does it mean to be aggressive? It means to take action. Just because graduation is near doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to coast. Look into programs and clubs, apply for scholarships and internships, make connections, and network. Start taking steps to get ahead. No matter what path you chose or which path you’re on, there are always steps that can be taken to move ahead. But those steps aren’t handed to you; you need to reach out and find them, and for procrastinators like me, that’s more difficult than it sounds. 
       Procrastinator or not, I suggest you write those goals and tasks out. Whether you write them weekly, monthly, or yearly, having that visualization may help to keep track of being aggressive. Write a list of all the scholarships or internships you want to apply for, and have the satisfaction of crossing them off when you complete them.
        Make room in your schedule for programs and clubs, whether you’re graduating high school or graduating college. Programs and clubs are incredible ways to build your skills, make connections, and network. In addition to colleges, most communities offer fantastic programs and clubs on anything from writing to business. Seize these opportunities, because not only are you building and expanding your skills, you never know if the connections you make in that club will lead to your future success.

Don’t Be Afraid To Work
After graduation, life isn’t handed to you on a golden platter, nor a silver platter for that matter. The blood, sweat, and tears you put into that diploma, the work that went into receiving that diploma needs to continue afterward. So, as easy as it is to jump on the bandwagon, to work remotely or become an influencer, just remember that working for $21 an hour at Target will be a consistent and reliable paycheck. Whereas, remote jobs tend to be more difficult to receive, not to mention how much work it takes to become an influencer. Taking a selfie isn’t enough anymore; you need to have a niche, marketing, materials, and connections to become a full-time influencer.
        Sure, working remotely and being an influencer has its perks, but did you know that places like Starbucks, Chipotle, Target, Amazon, and more help pay for college tuition? I worked at Chipotle for a year-and-a-half through college, and besides a reliable income that helped me pay rent, gas, and groceries, I also ended up receiving a $5,000+ scholarship to put towards my tuition. All I had to do for those jobs was apply, show up, and do my job. There was no need for marketing, branding, or networking.

Work-Life Balance
Eating too many Oreos is never good for you. But neither is eating all salad and no Oreos, so it’s important to have a good balance, especially in life. As I mentioned before, don’t be afraid to be aggressive and get your fingers dirty, but remember to balance that out with some ‘me’ time. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as you’re climbing the mountain of success.
       Now, this doesn’t mean to be playing hooky every week to play golf or sit at the spa, but rather setting time aside to do something for you. For example, maybe you set time aside to enjoy a hobby, like gardening, hiking, painting, or watching movies. Or, maybe you set time aside to hang with your partner or your friends. Or, set some time aside to relax, or to go shopping. Whatever the activity is, you must take time to take care of yourself.
       After graduating, it’s so easy to be caught up in the fuss and frenzy that we often forget about the things that make us who we are. If you have trouble remembering to take that time, write it down on your calendar or in your planner. You can also join a club or set a date with a friend; having a weekly commitment may help you remember and commit to balancing out your life.

Plan For The Future
I used to hate the question, “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” Or worse, “Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?” There would be times in my life when I could answer that question. I knew exactly what I wanted from life. I had goals. But then life happens, and things change; just now, I can’t picture where or what I will be doing in the next five minutes, let alone the next five years. 
       So why do people love this question so much? Why is it so important to know where you want to be in five years? Asking yourself this question helps keep your focus on your life goals in the long run. Life is full of distractions, and it’s easy to become caught up in the aspect of survival. The next thing you know, five years have passed and you’re still serving drinks at your local bar, instead of traveling the world, publishing a book, going to law school, buying a house, or whatever your dreams may be. Remember that it’s okay for those goals and dreams to change, that it’s okay to be lost for a minute, too. That’s all a part of figuring life out and navigating through the storms, but I encourage you to continue to think about the future and where you want to be in the next five years.
       When it comes to keeping myself focused on my goals, I’ve found that creating a vision board helps. It presents a clear image of the goals I want to accomplish in the future. Another great way to stay focused is journaling those goals down, and creating quarterly goals for yourself. For example, maybe after the first year you want to be working your way toward a management position, or maybe you want to be physically healthier by doing yoga three times a week. Whatever your end goals are, creating these smaller goals along the way might help you stay focused on achieving your long-term goals.

Continue To Learn
Once you receive that diploma, don’t expect never to learn again. Don’t think that you’ve mastered all the information you need to be successful in life. Continuing to learn is continuing to grow, which leads to more opportunities and more success.
       There are so many ways to learn. Of course, there are the obvious ways: Attending a tech school or a college to receive an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Less obvious ways to continue to learn include taking classes and earning certificates. You can find these certificates and classes online and in your local community.
       You can always learn within your job field. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve learned that leaders notice when people take the time to ask questions and learn. Try new opportunities when they are offered to you. You never know if you’ll discover something you enjoy more than what you’re currently doing. Learning is never a bad thing, especially when the world is changing so fast we have to continue to learn to keep up with it. So that, in the end, we are able to navigate the storms, enjoying the sunshine and rainbows.   

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