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Sophie Keller

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How Happy Is... 5 Tips If You're Graduating

Posted: 05/26/09 09:22 AM ET

Graduating is about change and moving on, and in the same breath it can be frightening, as well as exciting. Being frightened and excited often have the same physical symptoms, heart racing, shortness of breath, sweaty palms etc. The only thing that is really different is your choice of attitude. Do you decide that moving on is an exciting prospect or a frightening one? One thing you can be sure of in life is change and some of us find change easy and welcome the challenge, and some of us find it hard. But with change brings opportunities for growth and if we are here on this planet for anything, it is to grow. So here are my five tips if you're graduating...

Tip 1. An Empty Well
. If you don't know what to do after school, don't worry about it. Sometimes it's really important to have the well empty before you fill it up again. Imagine that you've been extremely busy with school and you're time has been totally taken up with your studies, often there is that need to keep filling up you're time, because that's what you're used to. But that is really not a great way to move to the next stage. It is important to have a rest, to let your mind empty, so that you leave space for new ideas to come in. Try to be comfortable with sitting with 'nothingness' it can actually be quite a relief to not have to know what's next and to not worry about it.

Tip 2. First Thing's First. The first job that you chose to do when you leave school doesn't have to be 'right'; it is just what you are doing 'right now', not necessarily in ten years time. I know lots of people who change careers, whether it's lawyers becoming writers, car mechanics becoming realtors or managers becoming photographers. Each profession you choose or each part of your life experience informs the next part. Even if you don't do a total about turn with your career, aim to see each phase as building blocks. It is way too pressurized to think your first choice is your only one.

Tip 3. Loving It All. Whatever you chose to do, there are always large parts of it that aren't that fun and you need to make sure that you are prepared to do those things. For example, when I started out in the acting profession I thought that it was just about being on stage or on a TV or film set, but I soon realized that it was, amongst other things, about making calls, creating contacts, getting an agent, being in shape, auditioning and spending huge amount of time learning sides, with no guarantees of a job. Now that's show 'business' and it is the 'business' aspect that I had to take in to account and love as well, because I was going to be doing those other things most of the time. My point is that you will never love every bit of what you do in a job, but so long as you love most of what is entailed, you are on to a winner.

Tip 4. Changing Your Mind. In your twenties, much of life is a process of deciding what you don't want, as much as what you do want. So if you find that the first thing you choose isn't ultimately for you, then don't be afraid to change to one that might be. However, notice if you are someone who has a pattern of hopping from one thing to the next without finishing things, or you genuinely, legitimately, are changing your mind.

Tip 5. Enjoying The Journey. Don't expect to get where you want to go in one fail swoop, it usually takes years to get the results that you desire. The people who tend to do well are the ones who persevere and just keep going. If you are 25 now and doing a job, it is very likely that in ten years time you will be where you want to be. Now you might think, 'that's ridiculous, I want to be there in one year'. But that is unrealistic. You don't need to be in a rush or prove anything to anyone. The journey is what needs to be enjoyable, because if you only enjoy the end points you are in for a very depressing life as those points are rare odd moments, the journey is the rest of it.

Remember that life is about cycles. Whether it's cycles of the moon, the seasons, the economy, you name it. Career is the same, sometimes you will be doing really well and other times you will have lean years. Keep balanced throughout and whether you have tough times or not, so long as you have your health, great relationships and you can put food on your table, then you can enjoy the roller coaster ride.

That's it for this week; if you want to contact me please do so at sophie@howhappyis.com.