Look Back, Look Forward: Part 5 – 14 steps to a stress-free future

In the final part of this series of posts on the future after your degree, let’s look at taking the stress out of your plans.

The future is uncertain, mainly because it hasn’t happened yet.  Invariably, this can lead to worry.  Or panic.  Or full-blown hysteria.

If only you could get the future to play by the rules you set.  I know that’s never going to happen, but you can use the present to nudge the future into dealing with you more reasonably.

photo by Ranoush.

photo by Ranoush.

14 steps to a stress-free future

  1. Plan what can be planned – Just because you don’t have all the information doesn’t mean you can’t start making a rough sketch of the future. You don’t get anywhere fast without a sense of where you are going.
  2. Don’t leave it for later – The more you sit on things, the more you have to do later on.
  3. Expect possibilities, not guarantees – Confidence is good, absolute certainty is not.  Expecting the worst isn’t necessary, but it’s wise to be aware that events don’t always go the way you want.  Expect nothing in particular, but hope for the best outcome and be prepared for the worst.
  4. Deal with common needs beforehand – Get what you can out of the way.  Many matters are best dealt with as you go along.  Your CV, where you’ll live, summer plans, and so on, are pretty standard.  Very little will surprise you.  Get on with these necessary tasks as soon as they arise to keep disruption down to a minimum.
  5. Look at the blank canvas with hope, not fear – I’m still surprised at how people greet creative uncertainty with dread.  You have responsibility for what you do with your life and you’re being handed a free shot at what you want.  It gets better, because any time you mess up, it’s easy enough to start on another blank canvas.  You’re luckier than you think.  Stuff like money gets in the way, but a lot of what really blocks us are our own mental blocks.
  6. Consider what you’d like to do and where you want to branch out – Before you get too serious (or before time starts making decisions for you), make an effort to hone in on the life you’d most like to lead.  Small steps in the first place can become large strides, so don’t knock them.  When you don’t spend enough time on the initial steps, you knock your dreams off course.
  7. Look at job adverts, consult agencies, forums, conferences, job fairs, specific companies – You’ve probably been told this a lot already, but it’s worth mentioning. The more preparation you do, the more you’re prepared…good, huh? Study the jobs and opportunities currently out there, check jobs ads and appointments, view promotional docs from companies in the field you’re looking into.  Fairs and events allow for networking, further questions, more ways in, new thoughts that you hadn’t yet considered.  If you’re already doing this, keep it up.  Don’t give up.
    Whatever you feel in the dark about, make it your aim to shed light on the subject.
  8. Work out budgeting needs for the year ahead – You need money.  Whether it comes from you, the bank of mum and dad, or a lottery win(!), be sure to budget regardless.
  9. Start a blog and join conversations online – This is especially important if you have a clear career in mind.  Start a blog about your chosen field, even if it’s just about finding a job in the first place.  It all helps.  I know loads of graduates who set up their own website like a CV, but it goes stale and doesn’t mean anything.  A blog lets you update, explain, entertain, converse, stay relevant, and stay visible.
    Find people associated with the work you want to do on social networks and online forums.  There are so many wonderful, helpful, accessible, kind people out there.  In time, you can be one of those very people.  Get involved and start spreading the love further!
  10. Talk to parents and loved ones about future living arrangements if you’re not renting yourself – Some people are surprised at how much their parents want them to move out quickly, or start paying rent, or make massive change to living arrangements.  Get it sorted in advance so you’re not surprised.
  11. Keep scheduling, even when you don’t have a lot going on – Practice your time management by keeping a schedule or diary or to-do list or anything that lets you keep an eye on the day.  It not only opens your eyes to the amount you can do when you put your mind to it, but also gives you momentum to achieve more.  A lot can be said for the humble to-do list.
  12. Have some down time – Already scheduling like crazy?  Have a lot on?  Avoid the stress of burnout by scheduling time for yourself too.
  13. Regulate your sleep – Student days are behind you.  If you enjoyed the prospect of a day-long lie-in, you need to train yourself out of it.  Try waking up at the same time every day.  Having no clear sleep pattern can be stressful.  The occasional lie-in is fine, so long as it is only occasional!
  14. Don’t waste time doing nothing at all – Losing momentum is a big problem here.  From the moment your study comes to an end, start working on the next stage.

Enjoy your life as a graduate.  I hope you get the degree result you want and I wish you the best of luck for the future.

TheUniversityBlog isn’t disappearing over the summer months.  The focus may not be so much on writing essays and dealing with campus life, but there’s still plenty to deal with, including more on life after uni.

Remember, if there’s anything you’d like to see covered on this site, get in touch!

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