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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 November 15, 2019

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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