I’ve seen it happen over and over again. You go from a high school superstar to a college drunk, then a college drunk to a young professional drunk. Channeling more energy into happy hours and killing time than personal passions and future goals can really drag on you in the long-run.
Here are 4 tips that will help you to still have fun, lead a more fulfilling life, and help you to feel stable and “adult-like” after you graduate from college.
1. Find Your Work/Life Balance.
The best way to cope with the stresses of professional life is to have things to look forward to on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s sports, reading a book, or an upcoming vacation, you need to remind yourself why you work.
After all, we work to be able to do and support the things that we’re passionate about. Since college is over and you no longer have a boat-load of planned events available for the taking, you’ll have to take some initiative in order to find some fulfillment (and social life) outside of work. Here are some ways to achieve that important work/life balance:
- Always take a lunch break. When lunch hour is booked, still be sure to take 15-30 minutes to go for a walk. It’ll blow you away how refreshed you’ll feel when you return to your work.
- Use your PTO (or non-PTO). Vacation is there for you to recharge. As Steve Carrell said in the movie 40-year-old Virgin, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
- Plan new activities to meet people outside of work. Spending time with co-workers 40 + hours every week can be irritating, which is why you need to meet people outside of the workplace. There are typically young professional clubs, intramurals, or community service organizations to get involved to meet people with similar passions.
2. Create and Stick to a Budget.
A budget is simple: what money do you have coming in vs. what money do you have going out?
You need to ensure that you are living a lifestyle that will supply you with enough money in order to pay your normal expenses: rent, car payments, food, gas, utilities, cell phone, car insurance, etc.
Making sure that you have a surplus of money every month to put into your savings, and it will keep you protected in the event that something unexpected happens (emergency car maintenance, needing to fly somewhere to help family, etc). Plus, having extra money tucked away will help you sleep at night!
Here’s how you can actually make a budget:
- Figure out how much money you make per paycheck (and how often you’ll receive a paycheck).
- Add up all of your total monthly expenses (rent, car payments, food, gas, utilities, cell phone, car insurance, etc.).
- Subtract your expense total from your monthly income total, and you’ll find out what your cashflow is looking like! If you end up with a negative number, you’ll need to make some lifestyle adjustments quickly (aka: give up unnecessary things). I know it can be hard to give up going to happy hour every night, but trimming back the amount of money that you allow yourself to spend at restaurants every month will help you out in the long run, and contribute to things that really matter (like truly memorable experiences like vacations).
3. Live Below Your Means.
The common phrase that is engrained into our minds at an early age is to live within your means. Well, I have a different phrase: LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS!
And why the heck would you want to do that? So that you can SAVE more money for big future purchases, emergencies, vacations, investments, and more. I know that saving sounds boring now, but check out this scenario:
Let’s say that you decide to trim down your expenses and then put an extra $300 a month into your savings account ($150 per paycheck). Let’s also say that you continue to do this every month like clock-work. If you started putting aside that $300 a month at age 22, by age 27, you’d have $18,000 sitting in your savings account. And here’s what’s cool about having extra money beyond the obvious—when you have money, it can actually make you more money when you know what to do with it. Investing a portion of your savings can seriously catapult you towards financial freedom when you’re older through something called compound interest. To learn more about the power of compounding interest in 60 seconds, check out this video where Tony Robbins breaks down how investing your money over time can beef up your bank account in a big way.
4. Set Short and Long-Term Goals.
Okay, let’s take a break from the money thing; let’s talk about what’s important to you. What type of life do you dream of creating for yourself? Where do you want to be in 3 years—5 years—10 years? Start from the finish line and work your way backward. Break up your big goals into little bite-sized chunks. And it doesn’t have to all be serious stuff like, “owning a house,” “having a family,” etc. Where do you want to travel? What do you want to experience in your life? You’re outside of the small, simulated fantasy world that we call college now—crafting the life that you want is up to you and no one else.
Plus, there’s an added bonus to writing down your goals: you’ll have something to look forward to, which is scientifically proven to make you happier, and you’ll know where you’re going. Ever tried to drive somewhere in a new city without looking it up on Google Maps? When you know what your destination is, you’ll know where to steer your car. Maybe it’s a long road-trip, and your plan stops along the way. Perhaps you decide to stop at a random restaurant or amusement park along the way that looks awesome.
Planning doesn’t have to be boring. And spontaneity can still be built into your plan. But rather than just bouncing around aimlessly in life, if you have a goal, you’ll have a destination to look forward to reaching. And you can enjoy the awesome stops along the way.
Why choose between being a planner or being spontaneous—why not have it all and be both?