Adjusting from College to the "Real World"

Transitions are tough, especially the transition from the college to the “real world.” College can offer some of the best years of your life; you’ll meet lifelong friends, have amazing opportunities, and find experiences you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Most importantly, you get the chance to learn, explore, and start discovering who you are. The “college lifestyle” is definitely something you won’t get to experience again in life. No other time in your life is it going to be acceptable to spend your days sleeping in till 1, rolling into class with sweatpants on, eating whatever you want whenever you want, and then going out with your friends till 3am. No other time is it going to be not just okay, but expected that you are a “broke college kid.”

When you graduate, it’s a big adjustment and a huge wake-up call! All of the sudden, whether you really want to be or not, you are part of the “working world”. You’re supposed to wake up at 6am, dress “business professional”, hit the gym, cook healthy meals for yourself, pay off student loans, go to bed early, and the list goes on. For some, this transition is easier than it is for others but I don’t think anyone can say it’s a breeze! Although I’m not an expert psychologist or experienced life coach, I am going through this college to “real world” transition too, so I thought I’d share my tips on how to make the transition easier and start designing a life you love.

1.) Start Practicing Gratitude

Being grateful for everything around you is the first step to happiness and true joy in your life. Instead of focusing on all the things you miss from college, focus on the things you love and appreciate about your new “grown up” life. There is so much to be grateful for, no matter how small it is. Acknowledge all of it and don’t take anything for granted.

Things I am grateful for: My parents, my sisters, my step dad and step brothers, my job, my daily routine, my work colleagues, my friends, my car, making money, having time to go the gym, living at home, a clean house, being able to spend more time with parents and sisters, reconnecting with friends from high school, my home town, being healthy, being able to travel and go places I’ve never been, having the freedom to design my life, and for all the opportunities that will present themselves in time!

Your list may look a little different than mine. You may not live at home or love your job but I’m sure you could come up with a list of some of the things you love and are grateful for about your life- no matter how small they are! Practicing gratitude keeps you mindful of all the things that are positive in your life and will lead to joy.

One easy way to start practicing gratitude is to take a few minutes each morning and write down one or two things you are feeling grateful for in that moment. I use my Vintage Floral Bound To-Do Book and jot a few things I’m feeling grateful for each morning.

 2.) Get into a Good Morning Routine

For me, this is crucial. I am not much of a morning person so waking up early and starting out my day can be slow. I try to wake up and focus on things I love about the morning- getting ready, picking out a cute outfit, enjoying my cup of coffee, making a good breakfast, listening to my favorite music in the car, etc. This helps me look forward to each day and get excited to do all the things I need to do.

3.) Find a Job You Love

Instead of focusing on “the perfect job” (perfect location, high pay, high status, etc.) find a job that utilizes your skills and talents, makes you feel needed, and is in an environment where you feel comfortable. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

4.) Get a Hobby

I have played volleyball my whole life – first at the YMCA, then College, and all the teams in between. Playing volleyball is part of me and something that makes me happy. Now, I play in an adult league with players anywhere from 19-60 years old. It’s different but it keeps me busy and active, and it’s a fun, social thing to do. Whatever it is that you love doing, find a group, club, or team and go do it! There are plenty of opportunities wherever you are!

5.) Start a Gym Routine

Working out is great for you- it relieves stress, gives you energy, and makes you happier. Chances are, you work in an environment where sitting the majority of the day is unavoidable. Running, walking, biking, dancing- these are all ways you can get active and get your endorphins going!  I joined a local gym and I aim to try out new fitness classes when I can. Joining a gym is also a great way to meet people!

6.) Enjoy Your Weekends

I never fully grasped the “weekends are awesome” thing until I started a full time job. Work is tough. It can get stressful and frustrating and seem like the week will never end but guess what? It does. And the great thing about working? No homework! I work hard 8 hours a day, and then have the rest of my day to do what I need to and have 2 days every week to live it up! Work hard. Play hard. It’s very rewarding to work hard during the week and have a fun weekend out with friends.

7.) Plan At Least One Fun Thing Every Month

A big thing for me and my transition from college to the real world is making sure I schedule time to do fun things! This may seem silly that I plan these things so far in advance, but it makes a difference. No longer being in college means that I’m no longer and 5 minute walk away from all of my best friends. Yes, it’s different not having these people so close but they aren’t gone! A lot of my college friends live in awesome places like Nashville, Charlotte, Chicago, and New York City now; what a great opportunity to plan a fun weekend to see them and explore some of these new places! Each month, I aim to plan at least one really fun activity. So far that’s included: a weekend trip to Nashville, a trip to Atlanta, fun weekends in Philly, a day trip to NYC, a ski weekend to upstate New York, a Kings of Leon Concert, and a fun weekend in Baltimore.

All of these things took time, effort, and yes, money, to plan but it’s worth it! I love reminding myself of the motto- You Should Always Plan Something to Look Forward To. If you’re bored with your life- plan something! You will feel more fulfilled when you reach out to people and maintain your relationships with your friends. I use the Fun and Adventure section of my Vintage Floral Vision Planner to make sure I am planning out my fun adventures for the month!

8.) Make New Friends, but Keep the Old

Do you remember this old saying? For me, living at home means reconnecting with old friends from high school. Fortunately, I still have a great group of friends from my home town and I am so thankful for them! We all went our own ways for college but now that we are all home, we picked back up where we left off like no time has passed! It’s great to reconnect with old friends but don’t forget about your college friends either! I still try to call my college friends to stay in touch and we plan trips to visit each other as often as we can!

9.) Be Gentle with Yourself…. You’re Doing the Best You Can

It’s OK to not have it all figured out…why should you? You’re still young. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay not to know it all. You’re not supposed to have all the answers. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re trying and reflecting on mistakes, you’re learning and growing. This is your time to explore and try new things. This is your time to be selfish. Chances are, you don’t have too many commitments right now. Figure out what you like doing, and who you like being around.

You have the opportunity to design a life you love- make it a great one!



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