If You Want Happiness After Graduation, Do These 10 Things
People mistake what happiness is all the time. Before I get going, I need to explain what happiness isn’t. Happiness isn’t a life absent of stress.
In the movie Up In The Air, George Clooney consoles a man who has cold feet before his wedding. He tells him:
“If you think about it, your favorite memories, the most important moments in your life… were you alone?”
If you want me to boil down happiness for you, it’s being surrounded by the people you love.
If you take just one thing away from this article, I hope that would be it. Here are a few other ways to find happiness after college.
1. Make Plans To See Your College Buddies Again
I saw my college friends for the first time in two years a couple months ago. It was unforgettable. We talked about our jobs, our families, where we’re headed, and when we were going to see each other again.
Trust me when I say it’s a huge jolt of excitement to reconnect with old college roommates and friends. Maybe some of you reading already plan to live with them. If that’s the case, then you’re doing it right.
2. Realize It’s Not All Going To Happen Tomorrow
Waiting sucks. Remember waiting in line for Splash Mountain at Disney World? It’s not fun, right? Perhaps the only fun part of waiting in line is getting to the end, and literally seeing the seat you’re going to occupy.
Unless you’re super smart, a MAJOR job opportunity or overnight success story in business isn’t going to come your way any time soon.
My hardest lesson was learning how long certain things take. It ALWAYS takes longer than you want it to. Do not put deadlines on things. If you do, make sure to add some cushion time.
3. Give Back To The Community
Coach a team. Volunteer. Maybe do some tutoring of some sort. I don’t know. How good I felt as a wrestling coach is proof that money doesn’t do much for happiness. I’ll never forget the kids I coached. I keep asking myself whether I’m going to come back next year.
4. For Pete’s Sake Talk To Your Parents
Your parents are pretty freaking cool. Some people you know don’t have their parents. Cherish them. You’ll wish for the time back later, so make sure you’re making the most of it now. Take it a step further and try to show some interest in what they do, too.
5. Don’t Work A Job You Hate, Even If It’s In Your Career Field
Work a job you love. Even if it pays $6.00 an hour (impossible). Even if it doesn’t pay your student loans. Even if it won’t cover rent.
The problem here is that it’s easy to get comfortable in a job you hate. It’s money, right? I can definitely see why not being happy at work is a widespread problem. That’s why you can’t let unhappiness stick its nasty foot in the door in the first place.
This is a stupid allusion, but do you know the best way to not become an alcoholic?
The same is true for work. Don’t take a job you hate. Ever. Flip burgers if it makes you happy. I’m serious. It worked for me! I wasn’t using my degree (marketing) at all after I graduated. I was writing for 2 cents a word (not good), but I loved every minute of it (good).
THE MORNING EMAIL
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most.
6. Never Promise What You Can’t Follow Through On
Be a woman or man of your word. Don’t promise stuff you can’t follow through on. It builds resentment, erodes friendships, and makes you feel like crap when you can’t live up to your promises. You’ll avoid a lot of heartache if you stick with this piece of advice.
7. Move To A Different State, Even For Just A Month
My best friend let me live with him for three months in San Francisco (bless him and his family I don’t know how they put up with me). It gave me a wildly new perspective on things. It was different from going away to college or doing internships. It had a finality to it that was very unsettling to me. It made me appreciate my family so much more. And my dogs.
That’s why you need to do it, too. Space is good for relationships sometimes. Besides, you’ll get to experience new places, which leads me to my next point!
8. Travel Alone
9. If Single, Hold Off On Relationships Until You’re Ready
Stay single if you want. If you’re in a relationship and want to spend the rest of your life with someone, then get married. This point is not here to persuade people to break-up and be single. It’s just here to assure you that it’ll be alright if you choose to focus on you for right now. I always used to date people growing up, but being alone has definitely been a peaceful experience to say the least.
10. Give Yourself Some Damn Credit
Take some time and reflect on your accomplishments. Think about the man/woman you were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. Don’t let your finest moments sink into the cracks, never to be heard of again.
It’s hard for someone like me to do this. I’m always looking forward and trying to accomplish more. I hardly stop to think about what I’ve accomplished. When you’re feeling your worst, when you feel like a loser, when you feel alone, just remember you HAVE done so much, and will do even more.
And if you’ve followed everything on this list, then it’s all but confirmed that you have.
This post originally appeared on my travel blog, Finding Tom. I post there every Monday and Friday about working from home, careers, traveling, and being a millennial. I’m also an editor at The Post-Grad Survival Guide, a Medium publication designed to help college graduates find a job, travel, keep relationships alive, and stay encouraged.