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  • Writer's pictureSteph

Class of 2022 - infuse your goals with fun

Updated: Jun 7

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Infuse your career goals with some fun

Each year, I like to send wishes and some fresh insights to the graduating class. After more than two years of living with the uninvited party crasher that is Coronavirus, you may be surprised to hear me mention fun - yet, that is exactly what I wish for the Class of 2022 and for all of us to cultivate.

Reframe job searching

Let's start fresh and relaxed. I think there is too much focus on choosing a career path during college. We've barely interacted with the world at that point, taken a ton of required courses, and done a lot of things simply to be competitive for the elusive After Graduation, as if it were some alternate universe where if we just do X-Y-and-Z we will be Successful.

If only things were so easy! Clearly, this is an oversimplification, to say the least. Plus, it leaves out an important component: you.

What do you want to be doing?

What do you like and enjoy?

What about relationships and the rest of life?

The intent of job searching is to find meaningful work that provides fulfillment, good financial health, and makes a positive impact in our world.

In the weird and unpredictable economic market that we're living with right now, this can be a tall order. Yet, I still advocate for trying to secure work that you are interested in, even if those interests shift later down the line.

In this way, job searching is not finite; it is the beginning of a self-discovery process and lifelong learning about yourself and where you fit into the world, doing some good along the way.

Where is the fun?

To be sure, landing an amazing opportunity is the fun part, less so the job search process, itself. When I work with clients, we come up with a strategy to make the job search as swift and mentally healthy as possible. This is crucial. I wish every new grad had the benefit of collaborating with a coach to shorten the process, receive support and guidance, and skip over common mistakes altogether. (Curious about coaching? Check out the Cheering Section for what it's like to work with me.)

The part that feels good is seeing a new grad identify areas of interest and enjoyment that can be translated into work and which are compensated well. Here are a few ideas to reflect on:

  • Using our natural talents is fun and gratifying. What are your favorite skills to use? What were your most enjoyable classes or topics to discuss? What could you talk about for hours? It feels good to share your gifts with others and you'll naturally want to keep developing those talents which will put you on a road to even more success and fulfillment.

  • What makes you happy? I was an expert at overthinking this question. If I could go back to my younger self, I would say something like, "Don't think. Just tell me what makes you happy, without any self-judgment, disclaimers, or censoring. Just tell me what makes you happy." We all have a response to this question. It's when we start giving reasons why we can't be happy when we make things challenging. Let yourself dream and think freely as a starting point. We can't all be proverbial rock stars and ball players, okay, I get that - yet, I believe we can get much closer to what we actually enjoy. This is especially true in entry-level work out of college when there are more opportunities available to explore and when starting salaries are less varied. Meaning - if the 'pay your dues' adage is true, we may as well be paying our dues in a vocation we like.

  • Choose at least one fun thing to incorporate into your work. Having fun at work is a privilege in many ways, and I want to be extremely respectful of that. It is not always possible to have a job that is 100% fun; in fact, usually, people say to anticipate that a job will be 60-80% enjoyable and 20-40% stuff that's, shall we say... less fun. Some of us may experience a lower ratio at different points in our careers for various reasons or until we can switch to a better situation. Still, try to find at least one aspect of your first job that holds some fun for you. This might be the type of work you're doing, maybe a company, product, service, or cause that interests you, a boss you admire, cool coworkers, or the chance to learn about something you like.

Practice work-life balance right out of the starting gate

It is widely known that college students are working harder than ever, managing academics, extracurricular activities, part-time (or full-time) work, family obligations, oh and the pandemic. Hallmarks of the collegiate generation are sleep deprivation, mental health needing extra care, and feelings of loneliness and lack of connection. This is real and deserves our attention and compassion. Then, we graduate into a working world that is fraught with a 24/7 check-email culture with the expectation to be constantly on in many places. This is not sustainable and it's not healthy for any of us.

The good news is the increasing awareness and desire by college students and employees that we want change - scratch that; we want a revolution.

Let us think big! Let us be the ones who change the working world for the better if only a little bit a time. May we move towards a higher vision of fun, work, balance, and well-being alongside high productivity, excellence, growth, and profits.

One of the most admirable things about the national intercollegiate cohort is its openness about things like mental health, self-care, and building a community of kindness including in the working world. Keep this positive trend going.

  • Begin or continue habits of positive self-care and restoration. Incorporate things like exercise, meditation, yoga, daily walks (or movement available to you), time outside in the fresh air, journaling, playing with a pet, gardening, listening to music, art, and anything that relaxes your spirit.

  • Connect with others. Make it a habit to keep in touch with friends, supportive family members, mentors, favorite professors, and anyone who inspires you. Volunteer and make new friends there, too. Seek out hiking groups, softball leagues, or neighborhood trivia nights. You might become social in a spiritual community if that feels comfortable. This is another reason why I love part-time work during career transitions: it's a ready-made form of socializing (hint: look for a nice boss and cool associates!).

  • Do things outside of work. Remember when we had time for hobbies and special interests? Find things you enjoy doing to unplug from the week, maintain your true interests, cultivate creativity, and keep exploring. You will feel more like yourself by having an active, well-rounded life where your day job is just one part and does not define or consume your entire identity. You are more than any job.

  • Reach out for support early and often. Do you know what makes life easier? Support! Okay, that was a gimme. Successful people and especially leaders do not do it alone. We all can benefit from people who genuinely listen, encourage us, and help us navigate this murky thing called Life. Be open and embrace any and all of the following in your Dream Team: mentors, a job search coach (like me!), therapists, clergy/spiritual resources, and anyone in the health and wellness field who is qualified and helps you feel like your best self.

Find Love through self-compassion, relationships, and friendships

Being in Love is fun. Are you surprised to see this included in a post about work and job searching? As a society, I feel we put too much emphasis on work and not enough on lovingkindness, relationships, and core friendships. This is what life is about. I am a firm believer in the fact that Love is arbitrary and we cannot control when and how we meet our partners (if that is what you desire). I don't know why some people meet their special someone on the first day of freshmen orientation just by walking into a room or why someone could be decades later than that and just not have found the right person (yet!). It's not your fault if you haven't found the rhyme to your reason. I also believe just as ardently that Love can happen at any time. (So don't give up!)

I bring all this up because it can objectively become harder to meet people the further away from college that we are - though always possible. For this reason, and even while Love is serendipitous, I personally believe it is worthwhile, if not essential, to make time for relationships, dating, and socializing with as much energy (if not more) as we put into things like job searching and work.

Equally important is learning self-compassion and kindness for ourselves. Depending on our upbringing and life experiences, it may not come naturally and that's okay - it is never too late. Moreover, self-compassion is like a muscle to continuously strengthen and use on the daily. One of my all-time favorite introductions to this concept is the Loving Kindness guided meditation from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). Anything by Dr. Kristin Neff, a leader in self-compassion from the University of Texas at Austin, is also a goldmine.

Make time for fun

You've worked hard to graduate and that is worthy of celebration and deep respect. It is only natural that you will also work hard on finding your first job out of college. We all do this. Alongside this perseverance, make time for a little fun (or a lot!). Find ways to infuse fun into your career goals, the jobs you go after, and the people you choose to spend time with.

We focus so much time on asking each other, "What do you do (or want to do)?"

What if we changed the question to, "What do you enjoy? When are you happiest? Who lights up your soul? How can I support and encourage your joy?"

Plant seeds of happiness, fun, and lightness and you'll grow not just a career to be proud of - you'll create a Life you really like.

Have FUN.

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