Practical Advice For The New Graduate


It is graduation season again.  Thousands of starry eyed graduates have been released to join the rest of the world in pursuit of a better life. Unfortunately, very soon they will come face to face with the realities of life which no education ever prepares us for.  So we have compiled the practical wisdom that will come in handy as the new graduates struggle to find fulfillment and success in life.

Build relationships

You are a social animal who prospers in community.  You might never have heard this but your degree/diploma is just a piece of paper and can do nothing for you if you don’t know the right people. You need every help you can get so foster your closest friendships, nurture your intimate partnerships, and tend lovingly to the folks around you.   Collaborate, build alliances, practice tolerance, and be respectful.  The more people you know, the better chance you have at getting the breaks you will need in life.

Take nothing for granted

You shouldn’t take anything for granted, not even tomorrow. I offer you the “hit by a bus” rule. Would I regret spending my life this way if I were to get hit by a bus next week or next year? And the important corollary: Does this path lead to a life I will be happy with and proud of in 10 or 20 years if I don’t get hit by a bus.

Don’t try to be great

Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.

Get in touch with your Soul

Learn to be mindful, live in the present, and manage the destructive impulses of your ego. Explore multiple wisdom and spiritual traditions and adopt the perspectives that fit and feel affirming to you.

Relax. Everything takes time

Give yourself time to adjust. Life is full of change and challenge. In my experience, it takes about two years to settle into a new community and find your niche.  Major life transition takes about five years. It takes time to troubleshoot, stretch, grow, find your way around, learn new skills, and get comfortable.

Don’t believe everything that goes through your head

During childhood and adolescence, it’s normal to harbor the thought “I believe, therefore it’s true.” Your so called reality is merely a figment of your own unique perception, which arises from your personal history, brain, culture, and genetics. Entertain alternative perspectives and as a result, reduce your suffering over worry, obsessions, frustrations, and sorrows.

Don’t take things personally

Don’t assume that everything is about you. When someone doesn’t follow through on that job offer, when your friends ignore you or your boss comes down too hard on you remember that their behavior is a reflection on them, not you. Give people the benefit of the doubt; they mean well but perhaps they are overscheduled, fatigued, overwhelmed, preoccupied or frustrated.

Visualize achieving your dreams and goals

Visualization means using your imagination to see yourself being successful at whatever you wish to create. When you vividly imagine an experience, the same neuro-pathways in your brain are activated as if you were actually doing it. Athletes and musicians use this technique to improve performance. Even if your goal is simply to be happy and have friends, imagining yourself enjoying life and being socially adept actually strengthens those connections in your brain, leading to success and improving your confidence too. Visualization also opens your eyes to the opportunities that appear, and makes you aware of the bounty that is available to you.

No job? Volunteer

Offer to work for free in the field you want to pursue. Even if it’s just as an assistant to the assistant of the assistant, you’ll learn the trade, polish your skills, get your foot in the door, and become a familiar and valuable asset, all of which might land you the next position that opens. You may even inspire your predecessor to vacate sooner rather than later. Even if you’re just curious about a particular field, volunteering is a great way to test the waters.

Dare to take the chance

When opportunity knocks just say yes. Even if you’re unsure or scared, dare to take the chance. Grab that brass ring. Leap and the net will appear. Your world will open up in ways you can hardly foresee. And no matter how it turns out, you won’t regretfully wonder, “What if?”

Keep life simple

Do less. Travel the path of least resistance. Go with the flow. Sure, you can still shoot for the stars and create an endless bucket list, but avoid running yourself ragged. Being chronically overwhelmed, exhausted, discouraged, and cranky never leads to fulfillment, no matter how much you might accomplish.

Focus On Self-improvement

You can’t give what you don’t have. While it is noble to eradicate poverty, march for peace, or work with special needs populations, you needn’t sacrifice yourself to a great cause in order to be worthy or do good in this world. First and foremost, focus on improving yourself and your circumstances. In doing this, you’ll naturally model positive behavior, spread good cheer, and perform countless benevolent deeds– not because you sacrifice yourself to the bone, but because your bountiful life means you genuinely have more to give– more energy, more kindness, more money. By focusing on self-improvement, your contributions to your community will go deeper and you’ll end up helping more people than you’ll ever know.  Sleep well every night. Eat nourishing foods and exercise to save on medical bills later. Sleep, nutrition, and activity have wide ranging effects on your health, and they boost your memory, learning, mood, processing, decision-making, reaction time, endurance, and energy. These three habits are keys to feeling radiant and whole– and being the best you can be.

Good luck and congratulations.