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8 Lessons Every College Graduate Needs to Learn About the “Real World”

8 Lessons Every College Graduate Needs to Learn About the “Real World”

Being a new college graduate is as exciting as it is scary. For the first time you are face to face with the real world and charged with making something of yourself. School is out and it is up to you to take what you have learned and find your way in the world. It is easy to lose sight of the things that really matter along the way, so as you try to find your way through the tangled jungle of the “real world,” take these eight lessons along with you to make the most of your life.

1. Focus on Happiness

It is easy to confuse money and happiness. Money can buy you comfort and remove a lot of the stress that goes along with struggling to pay the bills. The thing people often forget, however, is that once you have enough money to pay for a nice life and put a little savings away each month, every dollar you earn brings you less and less happiness. Instead of driving yourself towards your next promotion or next big career move, spend time with friends and family enjoying the simple things and relaxing. Happiness is worth a lot more than money.

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2. Prioritize People

Whenever scientists go off in search of what makes people happy they always find the same thing: family and friends. In the words of Harvard psychologist and happiness researcher Daniel Gilbert, “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.” Put people ahead of money. They are the only thing in your life that really matters.

3. Think Critically, Always

Don’t do something or believe something just because a lot of people have done it or believed it for a long time. Question everything and have reasons to back up the way you act. The moment you give up examining the world is the moment you will fall into the crowd and lose your individuality.

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4. Time is Valuable

Nothing is as valuable as your time. You can’t save it or expand it. Time will always pass at the same rate no matter how much money you have or how successful you are. Make sure you use it in ways that will maximize your enjoyment of life. Every moment you spend doing something you hate is a moment you will never get back. Value every second.

bensonk42
    bensonk42 via flickr

    5. Beware Bureaucracy

    When you are starting out in your career it might be tempting to go work for a large organization that can offer you a lot of perks and opportunity for advancement. The problem with companies like that is the only way to hold them together is to have lots of systems and rules in place with very little flexibility. The bigger the company, the less room there generally is for creative, outside-the-box thinking, which is exactly what young people are good at.

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    6. Networking Is Important

    Everyone says it, but they say it for a reason. As you move through your career the best opportunities will present themselves through people you have met. Odds are you won’t find a life-changing path to follow on a job board, it will pop up in a conversation.

    7. Pursue Health

    Don’t undervalue your personal health. The only way you will have the energy to pursue the relationships and experiences that will make you happy is to be in reasonably good shape. Adding a few years to your life will also give you more time to enjoy things, which as we have learned is your most valuable resource.

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    8. Roll the Dice

    In the immortal words of George Carlin: “Take a chance.” You only get one shot at living the life you want, so don’t waste it always following the safe path. If you really want to start your own business but are worried about the risks, use your fear to fuel you passion. Learn as much as you can about what you want to pursue and go after it. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

    Featured photo credit: Andrew Schwegler via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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