Postgraduate Cheatsheet For The Overwhelmed Student
Words a postgraduate or postgraduate-to-be needs to hear: “The only reform movement that matters is the one from within.”
What do those words mean to you? For us, it’s pretty clear. To make substantial change in your life, you can’t look to grand, sweeping gestures. You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and make incremental changes.
One each day, or sometimes even half a change per day.
It really doesn’t matter how small as long as you are making forward progress.
To help you do that, we’ve put together a small “cheat sheet” of how you can stay ahead of life as you move from student status to postgraduate. Here are some things you should get on right away as you leave school.
Postgraduate Tip 1: Find a job.
Easier said than done, right? Well, not necessarily. There is a difference between “job” and “career,” and while you may be champing at the bit to jump into “career,” it still may not quite be in the cards.
People have to understand they have to do things they don’t want to do in life to do things they do want to do.
It’s a messy business getting to the top. Most overnight successes are years in the making. When you live in a society that places so much emphasis on instant gratification and getting yours now rather than later, this can be hard to compute.
But consider how far along you could be if you adopted the mindset of taking action in the short term to reach those long-term goals. Sure, you may work a job that has little to do with your major. One that doesn’t give you a whole lot of happiness, even.
Using it as a baby step toward reaching that broader goal, however, will give you both the motivation to show up when you don’t necessarily want to and the means of getting there quicker than you would otherwise.
Postgraduate Tip 2: Find a place to live.
Finding a place where you can live — and we mean truly live, not simply exist — is a big step in putting the puzzle pieces of your life together. If you are going to have to be miserable, you might as well do it somewhere that brings you happiness.
Now we say that urging you to keep one especially important detail in mind. Affordability may find you with limited options. It may not be practical to move from Iowa to San Diego right out of college as you struggle to find a job to pay off those college loans in other words.
But if you can find a place to live that checks a number of your happiness boxes, then it doesn’t have to be paradise on earth. However, it does require you getting to know yourself better.
Ask yourself questions like, if I didn’t have to be studying right now, what would I really enjoy doing? What types of recreational or educational opportunities are there right here in my own hometown? If your hometown isn’t meeting any of the criteria that you’ve set up for yourself, then next ask the question, where is the closest place I can live that does?
Proximity is important because it represents less of an obstacle in the cost of living department. Yes, you’re probably going to pay more money for an apartment in a city like Little Rock, Ark., than you would in the smaller Fort Smith, Ark.; but the difference in what that “more money” is will be negligible compared to a move like Fort Smith to San Diego.
Just remember that there is always somewhere close to where you are right now — unless you live in Antarctica — that has a number of things to do recreationally. You can go to restaurants, take jogs, attend a movie screening on opening night, visit a bookstore — all without having to move half a country away from where you are right now.
Postgraduate Tip 3: Find an expertise.
Everyone should get to know what it is they like to do with their free time. It is an essential part of discovering who we are and where we want to be in life. But without an expertise, the future is going to be a pretty dim place.
Finding an expertise does not mean you have to be the best in the world at something. It simply means that you have to be better than most.
Better than most isn’t quite as hard to do as you’re probably thinking. For instance, let’s say that you’re in a profession where only about 30 percent of graduates find a job. You’re in that 70th-75th percentile range with knowledge and performance, meaning that anywhere from 25-30 percent of your fellow graduates are better than you are.
However, you’re better than most because there is a whole 0 to 69, who can’t hang with you.
Nowhere in that scenario are you the Michael Jordan of what you do; but you’re good enough to be employed, and if you’re employed, you’re earning while you’re learning, giving yourself every opportunity to move up the proverbial ranks.
Now that we have established the fact that you don’t have to be the best in the world, how do you get to “pretty good”?
For us, it goes back to incremental changes and the commitment to being a lifelong learner in whatever it is that you decide to take on.
What does this look like in action? It means reading a lot, watching instructional videos, listening to podcasts, dipping your toes into the water and taking on new challenges with what you have learned, even if it means a lot of failure along the way.
Even in losses, you can find some pretty big wins, so get yourself in the game, no matter what.
The things you do, the things you study, the things you think and feel, will give you the best chance to find happiness. So don’t waste time procrastinating or running from the need to learn more about who you are and where you’re going in life.
Thinking about the future can be scary, but the sooner you step out there and start to figure things out, the sooner you will find the life you’re meant for.
(Featured Image by Fastweb)