17 Things for College Grads to do Today

If you tossed a goofy looking hat in the air recently read this. If you know someone that did, send this too them. It’s important.

Send a letter thanking 5 people

Write a handwritten note. Send it to someone you haven’t spoke with recently. Don’t write to your professors, parents, grandparents, ect. You probably already thanked them. Write to someone else. Your first boss in high school. The teacher that helped you write your college essays. Your prom date. Be genuine and tell them what they taught you and why you’re thankful. It will feel good. Make thanking people a habit. It will help you in the long run.

Save $1000

Most of you are stoked about having an income. It probably seems massive compared to your ramen and Busch Light (the greatest cheap beer) college budget. Adulting gets expensive quick. Surprises come up quick. Make sure you’ve got a grand stashed away before you move out of your parents house. It’s hard to focus on work and life when you have eviction notices on your apartment door. It will happen to some of you. Don’t let it be you.

Set a budget

Like I said before, adulting is expensive. Plan for it. Set a budget so every penny from your paycheck is accounted for before you cash it. Know how much your monthly costs will be and find out how much you’ll be shelling out to Uncle Sam each week before you start work. Make a savings goal. It’s smart to set up a separate account and have your savings deposited through direct deposit. DON’T LOOK AT THE ACCOUNT. That money isn’t for you. It’s for your future. Try and save at least 10% of after-tax income. If you can’t do that, make that a goal. In the meantime, save something every month. Dave Ramsey and Ramit Sethi are good resources. Ramit has an awesome article 4 Proven Steps Anyone Can Take To Become Rich. It’s a good starting place.

Continue to live like a college student

The majority of grads will be making the same amount +- $10k annually. Don’t be a young baller. You don’t have to prove anything. Be humble. Don’t get a new car. Don’t get a big, fancy apartment. Get roommates. Drive for Uber in your spare time. Get compound interest working for you and you’ll be a baller by the time you’re 30.

Get rid of all credit cards

Okay, I lied. Keep one. Building a credit score has benefits. Use your card ONLY for recurring monthly bills. DO NOT KEEP IT IN YOUR WALLET. Choose the most boring reward. If you like to travel, don’t get one with travel rewards. It will only incentivise you to use it more often. The card is not for points. It’s for building credit. Use accordingly.

Fully fund your IRA

This one may be tough this year. If you haven’t been saving, you’ll have some catching up to do. Starting at 16, you can contribute up to $5,500 annually as long as you have earned that much in taxable income. The younger you start, the better. You can never make up for lost years. Max this out every year. Put it in your budget. If you start saving January 1 each year, it’s about $100 a week.

Write down 10 ideas a day

James Altucher gets all credit for this idea. I started the habit a while back and love it. Get to 10 ideas each day, no matter how bad they are. I put mine in a shared Google sheet so my friend can see mine and I can see his. We talk about them every other day or so. It’s fun. Do it with your roommates. Get used to having bad ideas. It takes 50–100 of them for a good one to emerge. Ideas can be businesses, books, events, politics, novels…anything really.

Pursue your interests outside of work

People write too much about passion. Don’t wait for passion to come around. It probably won’t. If it does, you’ll be 40 with kids and it will drive you insane. When you’re young, find something you’re curious about and take an action to do more of it. Like posting photos on Instagram? Get a camera. Take Chris Burkard’s class on Creative Live. Interested in marketing? Go help a small business do Facebook ads. Want to start flipping houses? Go do demo work for someone who flips already. Whatever your interest is, take an action to pursue it. Meet people who can help you. Learn.

Stop drinking

Okay, I kind of lied again. I am not saying give up alcohol, but you’ll want to adjust your habits. People judge you if you’re not getting hammered every weekend in college. In the real world, a funny thing happens. It all switches and people get worried about you if you’re getting hammered every weekend. More importantly, it costs a ton to do in a city and impacts your health. When I stopped drinking like a frat god, I lost 40 pounds. It can have it’s benefits. I’m much healthier now and have significantly more energy. Try and plan when you’re going out ahead of time. Set a weekly goal for drinks and a monthly goal for nights out. Sounds dumb, but it helps.

Learn to cook

Yes, cooking is cheaper. This is not entirely about money though. Cooking is a practice that requires all your senses. It’s got a meditative aspect to it. Use that to unwind after a day of work. Sit down with someone you care about and have a conversation over a meal. It doesn’t take lots of time either. Here’s some easy recipes from my site. Also, knowing what is going into your body is important. You’ll figure that out as you go. For now, use cooking to unwind and connect. Don’t be afraid of butchering a dish. It will happen. You’ll do better the next day.

Meet people you admire

Humans have never been more accessible. Connect with people you admire. Go to talks, author readings at book shops, and meetups. They’ll be uncomfortable, but it will help you learn and grow.

Learn to sell

This is something you need to do through experience. My advice would be to start a business or project on the side. Don’t spend a lot of money on it. Work on getting in front of people and selling your idea as soon as possible. Reid Hoffman says if you’re not embarrassed with your first iteration of a business, you’ve waited too long to launch. Get your idea out there. Talk to the players. The day you can walk into a CEO’s office or hop on a sales call with confidence your life will have endless potential.

Write

Do two things each day: Journal and write. Tim Ferriss has a good post on morning journaling. Go check it out. It helps you get all your crazy thoughts on paper in the morning so you can focus on the day. As for actually writing, try and do a certain amount of words or pages each day. Write about anything that you are interested in. It’s a great way to refine your thought. Post it or don’t. It’s up to you. Just make sure you write at least a rough draft with your idea clearly articulated before letting it sit on your hard drive. Use your 10 ideas a day for article ideas. If you’re too scared to post it, send it to me. I’d love to read it.

Sign up for Audible

Chances are you’ll have a commute. Sign up and do a book a month. It’s easy. Also, find some podcasts you like. Keep your mind stimulated. Try and avoid music to and from work.

Keep a queue

In addition to Audible, read real books too. Non-fiction. Find a way to keep yourself accountable. I have a friend that I Paypal $120 every six months and have him send me a book a month from Amazon. I write down the six books I want to read and they show up one each month. Paying for it in advance makes me actually commit to doing it. The most important thing is consistency. Start with a goal of 20 pages a day. There’s no reason you can’t do that. The practice of learning each day reminds you to continually improve. That lesson alone is important on it’s own. You’ll learn from the books too.

Don’t celebrate graduation

Despite your mom’s Facebook post, you haven’t done anything. You’ve achieved a super low bar. That’s fine. College needs to be thought of as a means to an end and not an end itself. Sure the world is proud of you, but that will fade quickly and you’ll be left with a $120k piece of paper. Make a commitment to become better each day. Learn and grow as a person and you’ll have more to celebrate than graduation in the future.

Hang out with thinkers

College is over. You’ll have to prune your friend group. Start to hang out with people who are exploring new ideas, pushing the limits and never satisfied. Stay away from the “short term hustlers” and hang with the long term thinkers and hard workers. They will change the world. You can too if you’ve got enough of the right people around you.

I just finished this and forgot an important one…18 seems excessive for a title so here’s a bonus one:

Get out of debt asap and stay out of debt.

Don’t let the bank own you. Easier said than done.