Defining Your Wants

Once I started researching help to make the transition out of college, I started coming across more guides than I expected.

The Problem: They are filled with (valid) advice like, Learn Time Management. Make A Good Impression On Your New Boss. Take Initiative. Prepare Your Resume.

Okay. Great. Unless you REALLY didn’t pay attention to your professors and college advisers, you already know those things.

When I graduated, I already had a resume that I had polished and obsessed over for hours and hours. I had learned time management. I was pretty sure I could make a good impression, and I had enough experience that I was ready for an entry-level job.

If those things are supposed to “smooth the transition,” why is it so bumpy?

To start, I decided to set out a list of basic goals I would venture to guess most college graduates have.

1. Financial Goals: Have an income. Pay your bills. Avoid bill collectors. Avoid angry parents who are sick of you eating their food and drinking their booze.

2. Social Goals: Have awesome friends. Don’t live with a psycho roommate. Do fun stuff with said friends. Have semi-grown-up relationships that are not based on the proximity of your dorm rooms. Maybe you want to get married. Maybe you are married and you want to start a family. Maybe you want to avoid having children like the plague.

3. Career Goals: Do… something. Like whatever you do. Don’t contemplate suicide every Monday morning. Get paid for it.

4. Other Goals: Do you want to hike the entire Appalachian Trail? Do you want to travel to all 50 states? Do you want to learn to knit? Do you want to write a book, run a marathon What are you passionate about that doesn’t happen from 9 to 5?

Here’s the thing: today is the first day of the rest of your life. You don’t get to change the past, but what you do from now on is completely up to you. No need to wait until the end of the semester, until the end of the year, until that test or paper or project is done. You get to do whatever you want. Today.

My list of goals (in addition to the basic ones I listed above) looks something like this:

  • Pay off my student loans early.
  • Run a 5K this fall. Run a 10K next spring.
  • Write fiction whenever possible. Someday finish a book.
  • Visit my wonderful friend Kelley in Hawaii while she still lives there.
  • Visit all 50 states.
  • Own a horse and compete. (I have yet to decide on a discipline.)
  • Spend one week as a vegan.
  • Learn to cook more things.
  • Knit a cat bed. (Yes, this is silly, but I just found a pattern for one in a book, and it looks really neat!)
  • Become a better photographer.

This list is constantly evolving and changing. What I want today, I might not want tomorrow. But the point is that once I graduated, it took me awhile to realize that I needed goals to motivate me to do things besides going to work and coming home.

What motivates you? What do you want to accomplish? Even if it’s something silly, what do you want to do today, next week, next month? How can you start moving toward those things?

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