Setting Post-Grad Goals

Setting Post-Grad Goals

I can hardly believe that I graduated from college five months ago. I think to myself, Wow, that is nearly two-semesters worth of time. This new season of life is unnerving, exciting, and moving at lightning speed. Days flow into weeks and suddenly I find myself having trouble remembering what it was like to live quarter-to-quarter/semester-semester.

Being thrown into the post-graduate stereotypical chunk of millennials is jarring, especially after spending the last 18 years of life in the regimented schedule of school. I liked the routine. I liked waking up at the same time everyday, catching the same bus, knowing what my day would have in store. Therefore, I thrived in the American public school system (ironic, right?). The rigidity of school presented me, and many of you, with tangible goals that could be measured against time.

Collegiate goals manifested themselves in an inner monologue that resembled something akin to, Okay girl, you got this week, just take your bio exam Wednesday, meet with your advisor Thursday, and cruise into the weekend.

In college, time sets itself up for you nicely as it is broken down into quantitative blocks and memories become, “Remember first semester when we went to that brewery for your birthday?” or “Spring Junior year was that semester I decided it would be a good idea to take six classes and then pierce my septum out of rebellion.”

This method of measuring life changes once you graduate, and that change is hard to deal with. It’s hard to not compare yourself to your peers, scroll through social media and think, “He already has a full time job, volunteers and is getting engaged… I should be too…” Here you’ll find yourself in a stepping stone sort of game where you look ahead on the path and see that you are no longer on the same stone as your peers. College placed you all on the same spot and now the stones are scattered and you’re struggling to keep pace. The beauty is found in the day when you realize that you no longer have to keep jumping stones.

Instead of living my life by assignments, I now live my life by way of goals. Post-grad goals are extremely important, especially if you are only working part-time, like me. Let’s be real, no one sets out to be a barista and work at the gym, but it pays the bills (somewhat) and refocuses my priorities. I have to live with the fact that this is what it is right now, and I’m oddly happy about it all.

But priorities and goals in post-grad life call for some perspective.

As I’m pouring coffee before sunrise my mind wanders, almost overflowing the cup in front of me, and I think to myself, “This week is about rock climbing and blogging and researching that proposal and making plans with Kevin.”

Every week has categorized goals that propel me into the next week and prevent my soul from being consumed by mochas and macchiatos and allow me to consider far off adventures (sounds cheesy, I know).

“Categorized goals” sounds clinical, removed and way too “adult” for a post like this. What are categorized goals? I have different parts of my life now. For instance, instead of biology, calculus, and English literature, I have work, fitness, love, and friendship. These categories are organically born as I look at my schedule and think, Olivia, your time is not limited, but rather allotted. Monday is work and gym. Tuesday is work and gym and doctors appointment. We all make our way to Friday, but getting there does not have to be a harrowing journey if you break it up into parts.

In reality, everything is not as easy as having a calendar of goals. What I mean is that my life is not this perfect Cosmo article broken down into a tabular fashion, but having goals and to-do lists make the struggle of finding myself this year a lot more manageable.

Just for some necessary perspective, I’m sitting in a Starbucks, having just paid for my iced coffee in nickels, writing this piece on my day off and my ex just texted me from 3,500 miles away. My afternoon here in Starbucks may seem out of place, but this is only because it is so much along the lines of categorizing my priorities that it is hard to discern. Starbucks has earned itself a permanent spot on my to-do list for two reasons now: work and writing. In other words, in order to get this blog post written I had to go back to the category of “work” and insert time for this. Life is weird and confusing, but it’s so good and I’m crazy in love with this life.  

Management is a big word. Ten whole letters long. You know what’s longer? My to-do lists. Do I feel overwhelmed? Yes. I ask myself every week, Is this really happening? “And by “it” I mean, Am I really trying to work 35-hours, go to the gym twice, write, call my best friend that lives five states away, go to the doctors and see my boyfriend at least one night? The answer is always yes.

Post-grad goal setting has to put you in a place of yes in order to be successful. Yes means ignoring the thought in your head that says “You should have a ‘real’ job by now.” It means sometimes prioritizing your own mental health over that of your friends. A place of yes means openly communicating about the difficulty in scheduling your life and the life of your significant other. A place of yes is about both realistic and unrealistic goals that keep you chugging along, happily. To put realistic and unrealistic goals into better perspective, these are my current goals: 1) Find a permanent full-time-big-girl job 2) Master the V3 in the rock gym 3) Pack for this weekend’s camping trip 4) Find a new Netflix show to binge. Which of those are realistic and unrealistic for this upcoming week? That depends on how I categorize my goals and my time and how much I want to sweat (both physically and mentally).

I’ve found that without daily goals in this post-grad whirlwind I become complacent and complacency is the end of all goals.

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