5 Lessons Learned While Being in the Real World for Over a Year

By: Abby

Warning – a woman who was envious of the movie 13 Going on 30 wrote this article.

I have always been waiting for this life chapter. My brain always shrugged off the “glory days” of high school and glamorized the mid 20s to 30s. Here it is folks – the Real World is all that I hoped.

But every new pet urinates indoors a couple times.

Real World Lessons

Here are a couple tips to help make your Real World better:

1) Nobody is providing you with a list of goals to check-off.

There isn’t a syllabus for your new life. This may or may not be exciting for you. It was for me. WOOP – I do what I want. But then it occurred to me – what do I want? Cue Monthly Goals!

Confession: I enjoyed a few months of thoughtless floating through my new career… Until I realized just that – I was floating. And floating isn’t cool (especially if you are George Clooney in space).

To guide myself back to a path of progressive self-improvement, I began a life of goal setting. I gave myself yearly goals, e.g. strengthening Spanish language skills. At the beginning of each month, I reevaluate my yearly goals and make a couple monthly goals, e.g. read a Spanish-language book.

Where I still need to improve: 5 year and 10 year plans are non-existent (shocker, I know, sorry to disappoint).

2) Don’t forget to keep connected! Always be building & maintaining relationships.

Through college, you have built career-benefiting relationships. Don’t lose them! Don’t confuse starting your career with stopping your networking. Careers evolve with time and that evolving means changing positions, companies, and careers. As I am sure you know, it is all about whom you know. Continue to get out in the community (or social networks) and meet new people. Reach out to your current friends and have coffee every so often. Limiting yourself to the view from your current desk limits your future views.

Idea: get involved in local professional organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. The Duluth Chamber has a young professionals branch called Fuse.

3) Believe me or not, nonfiction is actually fun.

Guess what; I don’t want to frighten you (especially since Halloween is over), but there are 21 million college students in the world right now. That number will be growing. People will always be learning. Don’t stop learning just because you’ve left school. Keep learning. Stay informed. Be relevant.

The world is full of literary treasures to help continue your growth. And many of them will make you laugh (or even cry, if I may be so bold). Make the choice to read something other than BuzzFeed (unless your “something other” is nothing… then BuzzFeed will do).

4) Budgeting isn’t just for making sure you can pay for college.

Sorry friends – this necessary evil must continue. The vote is out on whether money can buy happiness, but the Real World agrees that by managing your money you will avoid stressors.

5) Schedule out your free time too – it goes quickly.

This new 9-5 lifestyle brings a life of free nights and weekends for you to allocate as you please. But as I am sure most computer-wielding folks are aware… many an evening (or full day) can pass in the grasp of Netflix. Procrastinating on homework is no longer a worry, but your new life has new to-dos that can be sidestepped just as easily.

Plug in your workouts, schedule some time with friends, and write down when you’ll run to Target to get new light bulbs. Using my calendar to remind me of what I should be doing has increased my productivity and grown my feeling of accomplishment.

Bonus: The best is yet to come!

Get as excited as me folks. Our life is going to be great.

Read Abby’s other posts

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