AN OPTIMISTIC MESSAGE FOR RECENT GRADS (PART 1)

So you’ve got that shiny new degree elegantly framed and proudly displayed on a wall. You’re sending out resumés in bucket loads with few or no nibbles. The economy is in shambles and job postings are few and far between. Perhaps you’re having trouble making bill payments and your student loan payments are about to begin. You’re depressed and see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Relax. Take a deep breath. This is the best time of your life. Yep, that’s right, there is an incredible opportunity right before you if you step back, put things in perspective and have a long-term view.

I was in the same boat in the mid 1990’s so I share many of the experiences you are encountering. My future seemed bleak at best. I began to second guess my career choice and contemplated selling body parts to earn extra cash (not really, but you get the picture). At that time I couldn’t fathom how incredible the next 5 or 10 yrs would play out. I know, 5 years seems like forever to you at the moment but trust me, they will pass in a flash so enjoy every moment.

Looking back at that time in my life I now recognize I made some choices and developed some habits that have paid huge dividends. For the most part I didn’t realize the potential future impact of those choices at the time; I was just trying to survive. In addition, there are things I should have done or continued that I didn’t and now I am paying the price. I will now share some of those with you.

Stay active and healthy

This one is probably strange at first because you may be in your early or mid 20’s and are in pretty good shape. That’s great! But make a commitment to yourself to continue an active lifestyle. Especially, if your chosen career will find your butt firmly planted in a chair for the bulk of the workday. I didn’t give it much thought at the time but having spent the past 10+ years in a chair I can guarantee you that a desk-job will make you “squishy” and lethargic!

Furthermore, you may be getting stressed out about finding a good job. Getting regular exercise is a great way to relieve that stress so you can focus better. It’s also more productive than being a couch potato. You’re going to live for many years. They will be more enjoyable if you’re flexible enough to tie your own shoes for most of them.

Perhaps a gym membership is out of reach of your budget right now. That’s fine. There are other ways to get physical on the cheap. For example, check out your local recreation or community centres. When I lived in Toronto in 1998 my roommate and I frequented the local Rec. Centre. They had an indoor track, indoor pool, fitness room (weight room) and gymnasium (where we could participate in various sporting activities). To use the pool and fitness room you had to pay a whopping $3 every 6 months! Twice a year they would issue a limited number of shoe-tags that gave you access to these features. The other activities were free. Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends and contacts. Look around and be creative, you might be surprised at what you discover.

If you smoke, quit. I’m a smoker and I wish I had quit a long time ago. All I’m going to say is it gets waaaaaay harder to quit the longer you smoke. It’s an extremely unhealthy habit (not to mention expensive) and there will come a day when you will wish you never started.

Finally, listen to your mother and eat your vegetables!

In the next instalment I’ll explore finances and how to land that perfect job.

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Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment