10 Things They Don’t Tell You Before You Graduate (University Addition)

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The other day, I went for a walk to my usual spot.  I call it my “thinking spot.”  When I got there, I sat on my bench and after five minutes started laughing. 

 

Now, before you call me crazy, hear me out!

 

 I was laughing because I was listening to a podcast and heard the individual say, “The moment you graduate, everything will fall into place because you will have a degree.”

 

HA! I’m sure you’re laughing too.  Or you’re just waiting for me to get to the point.

 

This point is this- that statement couldn’t be further from the truth!  A degree, in my opinion, is like a passport.  It has the ability to open different doors.  However, it doesn’t mean those doors will ever be opened.  And if they do open, you better seize the opportunity quickly! 

 

I graduated from The University of Alabama a semester early, and one thing that stuck out to me from my whole university experience was when my English professor said:

 

“You will learn more about life experiencing stuff than you will reading this English textbook.”

 

After my trip down memory road at my “thinking spot,” I made my way home.  When I got inside, I picked up my phone and hit my guy Ian.  I asked if he wanted to jump on this post with me.

 

I’ve always said I wish someone would have told me about university before I got there.  I would have done my best to take advantage of certain things a little bit better.

 

For those of you reading this who are about to enter that chapter in your life, I hope you write these down and keep them in mind...

 

Let’s begin.

 

 

 

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1). Saving Is More Important Than Earning

 

When you graduate college, the only thing on your mind is making that paper for the first time. What they don't tell you is that it doesn’t matter how much you earn, it matters how much you save.  Getting into the habit of saving is not about being rich. Saving money keeps you sane.  It grows your self-control.  And it allows you to have money ready for when opportunity strikes.

 

If you get a $20k raise, and you spend $20k more, you end up with more stuff but your bank account looks the same way. The key is when you start increasing your income, try and live like you are still a broke college student for as long as you can.  Doing this will allow you to build up a financial cushion.  And you can make much better choices with $20k sitting in the bank compared to having nothing.

 

 

2). Get Around Like-Minded People

 

It’s imperative that you get around like-minded people as early as you can. University is the one place where the majority of people get into debt, but very few people get out of that debt.  So, you might as well get around some people who actually want to pay off that debt. Why? Well because those people probably have some type of plan.  Those are the people that are going to make sure you think outside of the box, and they will start by holding you accountable.

 

It is hard to make friends once you graduate from college.  Your whole life can easily be spent with coworkers or your family.  You have to make an effort to build with like-minded people to have in-depth discussions with. These are the people who will challenge you to be better than what you currently are.  It is not easy to find people who challenge you because when most people see you messing up, they are happy about it.   They now have a chance to step their game up. When you are trying to advance your way of thinking, you need to be around people who think like you do in order to stay sane.

 

3). You Have To Do More Than What You Are Paid T0 Do

 

Do more than you are paid to do even when it hurts and it seems that life is unfair. Doing more than what you are paid to do is how you ensure you are always needed and practically irreplaceable.  There are not many people who will follow this.  Look for more opportunities to help and to give. If you want to receive more, it is imperative that you give more.  If you only look to do what your job title says and never anything more, you make yourself dispensable.

 

Do the extra.  When you do what others won’t do, you will get more than they get.  I’m not even talking about finances.  I’m talking about creating a lifestyle and building a character that gets noticed as soon as you walk in the room.  I think the one thing people forget is that you make money.  Don’t let the money make you.  When you make yourself non-disposable, you’ll always make money.

 

4). Knowing What You Want Matters More Than Working Hard

 

It does not matter how hard you work if you have no direction.  Before you do anything else, you have to decide exactly what you want from life.  What do you want, when do you want it, why do you want it and what is your plan to go and get it?

 

Doing this is like setting the destination in your GPS.  If you don't set a destination, how can you know the path to where you are going? School teaches us to drift.  It makes many people feel like it is okay to not have a plan.  It’s why people going to college “undecided” is perfectly fine. The message is, “Wake up and have no idea what you want to do!”  That’s fine as long as you can pay that $28,000 college bill :).  

 

“What if I don’t know what I want?”

 

Let me slide on this one Ian.

 

You know what you want.  Whether you say it out loud and believe it is a different thing. Everyone has an idea of what they would like their life to look like. For example, the moment you say,  “I want...” you have an idea.  You just aren’t being intentional with the description of that idea.  And If you don’t know the description and how you can make that idea manifest, you’ll get lost in-between your other ideas.  And you’ll just continue to answer.  “I don’t know”.  You do know.  Just take a little more time and be descriptive.  Write down your own personal goal dots, and then connect them.  (See what I did there?  You know, connect the dots?  Like the game?)

 

5). That Childhood Imagination Is The Worst Thing You Can Let Go Of

 

The computer I am typing on, my iPhone, your favorite app are all things that came from the imagination.  Someone had an idea that they took action on to create all of these products.  When you’re in school, you are taught there is an absolute path you must follow.  The people who are remembered in history never follow the same way. They walk to the beat of their own drum, letting their imagination and “out of the box” thinking lead them.

 

I feel you bro, but it’s Android phone and Mac computer over here! But listen, if you don’t realize the endless possibilities of what the mind can create, you aren’t dreaming enough. People have a way of downsizing your dreams, so don’t even sweat that.  They don’t see what you see, or believe what you believe.  People would rather tell you what you can’t do and belittle your ideas and aspirations rather than give you hope so when you fall the first few times, you’ll have the courage to get back up. So, if you’re reading this today, and you have some big aspirations, I believe in your idea. Whether you succeed or fail is up to God.  That’s his realm.  But if you don’t ever try and give your dream oxygen, it’ll never live.

 

6). You Have T0 Believe In You First

 

If you do not believe in you, no one else is going to.  Your new boss is not going to give you pep talks about how he thinks you can do it. Disney Land is Disney Land, and real life is real life.  Don't get them confused.  When you believe in yourself and put in massive action, you’ll produce results over time and others will slowly begin to understand.

 

You have to believe you are already at the table before you even sit down.  Know that you belong anywhere you so choose to be.  If you don’t think your worthy of something, you’ll never fully grasp it. 

 

7). You Have To Start From Where You Are

 

Imagination is great, BUT you still need to be real with yourself about where you are today.  Social media has made some people delusional because it’s cooler to act successful than it is to actually obtain success.  Look yourself in the mirror and understand that where you are today is the result of the choices you made yesterday.  If you don't like where you are then make some different decisions.  You can build an accurate roadmap to greatness if you don't have your current destination correct.

 

Everything that you do, or don’t do, has a positive or negative reaction. Look, I know your tired some days, but isn’t it worth being tired from giving everything you have towards progressing further?

 

8). Experience, Experience, Experience

 

This will probably be something you hear a lot about. 

“You’re not experienced enough” 

or 

“You lack experience”

 

It’s funny, you can go to school for a billion years and when you graduate, certain companies won’t even give you that “experience” you need in order to succeed in that particular field.  How do you gain experience?  Well, be aware and be open to what’s around you wherever you are.  Create your own experiences.  Things have evolved so much.  Nowadays, you can search and find some type of contact information to send an email to the companies and people you want to be involved with. The worst thing they can say is, “No.”  But if they are willing to have you there, you’ll be able to gain that experience.  Don’t wait until you graduate to find out you’re not qualified. Leave no stone unturned.  And if they won’t give you the experience, try to create it.

 

 

9). It’s better To Be Productive Than To Be Busy

 

According to everyone you meet, especially after you graduate, they are “busy.” “Extremely busy” at that.  But you know what I’ve realized?  Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive.  Sometimes people confuse busyness with clutter. It’s not the hours you put in, but rather what you put in those hours.  You could be busy on paper for 15 hours straight.  But of those 15 hours, if only 4 of them were productive, you just wasted 11 hours.  People who are productive and efficient with the time they have will always overshadow those who grind all day.  Be careful not to confuse the two.  Being busy doesn’t always mean progress.

 

10).Work Harder On Yourself Than At Your Job

 

School is always teaching you to work hard.  The message engrained in your brain is that if you work hard at your job, great things will happen.  It reminds of the story of the two men who went to cut down trees.  One worked his butt off sawing down the trees for six hours.  The other man spent one hour sharpening his saw, and then spent only two hours cutting down the trees.

 

When you decide to work on yourself, you are like the person who sharpened his saw first.  By learning about yourself, reading, growing, forming positive habits, and a building a solid character, you give yourself better ingredients to succeed with.

 

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I hope this has helped in one way or another.

 

Use your time wisely.   You will not be able to do everything, but you can spend time doing and investing in the right things.  And start by investing in yourself.

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Life experiences are what make our journey so much more meaningful.

 

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- Akeem