How to Overcome Your Post-Grad Slump
Becoming an adult is tough
Becoming an adult is tough.
I think a lot of what makes becoming an adult so tricky is that it just doesn’t live up to our expectations.
There was a study published by the University of London that found the key factor in happiness is all about having low expectations.
So I guess if we want to be happy as adults, we have to set our expectations super low.
Well, that was the easiest article I have ever written.
I’m just kidding.
It is okay to feel flustered by your post-graduate transition into “adulthood.” The good news is you are not alone and you are not stuck! I outline here some practical guidelines that will recalibrate your expectations and help set you on your path to success in this new stage of life.
Recalibrating Your Expectations
I think what gets a lot of people in trouble as they enter adulthood is they believe the hard work is over. They made it through school, which was grueling for many. And now they want adulthood to be a lazy river per se. Sitting back and riding the waves.
Anybody who has made it into adulthood knows this is not the case. School gives us this expectation that as long as we show up and complete our assignments, we will advance. However, once you get into “adulthood” that path to success is not as clear.
So I think to reset your expectations. First, you need to forget the idea of finding that illustrious path to success. Unfortunately, it just does not exist. Instead, you have to start making your own.
Everyone’s path is going to look very different, but there are some consistent trends that show up for anyone who has ever become successful.
How to Build Your Path
Try and Fail
A common thread in every successful person’s story - they all failed. Failure is a prerequisite to success because it means you tried.
“You Miss 100% of Shots you don’t take,” - Wayne Gretzky - Michael Scott
Our fear of failure is not something new. We are hard-wired to avoid failure at all costs. For our ancestors, think hunter-gatherer, failure meant being rejected by the tribe. Being rejected by the tribe and being sent off meant your future was bleak. Unfortunately, this fear of failure and rejection is just in our DNA.
But how do we overcome it?
The easiest way I think for people to overcome their fear of failure is by posting what you are doing on Social Media. I think most people treat Social Media as a highlight reel. Instead, we should post our Works in Progress. Yeah, if you end up not taking something to fruition, people will make fun of you for a little bit, but you have to start becoming comfortable with that.
If you are trying to build your path, you have to be able to overcome this fear. Life is long, and your interests are going to change, your life circumstances are going to change, and you need to be willing to try new things.
When I left college, I tried to make an “Influencer” Instagram Account. I tried that and failed. Now I am trying to make a blog. Who knows this might fail too, but at least I will have tried.
Be Willing to Change
When you are adventuring through the unpredictable journey that is adulthood, it is imperative to be ready for and to embrace change.
What does that even mean?
So the change I am talking about is you go into work one day, and your job doesn’t exist. Yes, dramatic, but that does happen. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, and most people are caught flat-footed.
With the rise of Artificial Intelligence and the upcoming Recession or Depression from the COVID Collapse, this has and could end up happening to a lot of people very quickly.
But how do you prepare for something like that?
Get into the habit of growing your skill-set. Learning is not something that is isolated to school or when you are young. Learning needs to be a lifelong endeavor. If you are continually learning, you will always be prepared for change. However, I do recommend diversifying your skill-set.
If all you do is learn about your specific niche and let’s say automation comes for that job, you might have learned a lot, but those skills are no longer worth anything in the marketplace.
Instead, I recommend learning something that is tangentially related to your work. Meaning that it could be applied to your job, but isn’t a requirement to succeed. Like it would be a massive plus if you knew it, but it is not something common for people in your field.
When you stop learning you stop growing. - Kenneth Blanchard
Doing this kind of tangential learning will make you very valuable in your field, and it will give you the ability to change if your job becomes deemed “non-essential.”
Now that you have been convinced that learning is the key to being adaptable, let’s make sure you are not “learning” like everyone else.
Keep Learning, But Start Doing
People love to listen to and consume content. People love to brag about how many books they have read or how many podcasts they listen to, but for what?
I am someone who used to be guilty of the former. I would listen to a bunch of podcasts, and I would know everything I needed to do but wouldn’t do it. Why? Back to Section 1, scared of failing. But once I got over that fear, I made an effort to apply what I learned to my personal and professional life.
I started putting more effort into reading and taking notes. Then I would create summaries of the books and post them on Linkedin and Medium.
Because once I put it out there that I had read these books, co-workers would ask me questions about what I had read, and then I got to apply what I had learned. This gave me great experience, and it also helps filter out what works and what doesn’t.
Another benefit of having a side-hustle, no matter how big or small, is that it is another excellent place to apply your learnings.
Absorbing content is great, but applying it is even better.
Adulthood is tough. It hits you like a 6:00 am alarm on your first day of work.
The number one takeaway from this article has to be to reset your expectations. Instead of finding a path, you are going to have to create your own.
Because this path is different for everyone, there is no use trying to go into specific detail about what yours should look like because I don’t know.
What I do know I described above:
Become comfortable with failure
Constantly reinvent yourself with learning
Take what you have learned and apply
I hope this gives you some reassurance that you are, in fact, not alone in the struggle that is adulthood, and I hope these insights provide you with something to work with as you move forward in your journey.