1. Clean and declutter your room.
It sounds incredibly simple, and it is. However, often the state of cleanliness in our rooms reflects back to us the state of our minds and lives. By taking the time to clean, organize and declutter our room, we are both metaphorically and literally doing the same for our lives – making space for clarity, for what truly matters to us. As Marie Kondo writes in The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
2. Cut back on social media.
Social media is neither right nor wrong, rather it’s our use of it that determines its impact on our lives. It’s a lot like junk food: it’s very pleasurable in the short term and is harmless if consumed in moderation. However, if we consume social media as if it were the main staple of our diet, it becomes very unhealthy. At worst, our consumption of it can completely distract us from our actual, real lives. It can plunge us into a comparison and competition in which we are essentially disconnected from ourselves and from each other. By cutting back on social media and disciplining ourselves to only check it at certain times, we are freeing up vast amounts of time and energy that can and should be spent on directly improving our lives and relationships right now. If our days are so boring and unbearable that we cannot bear to be off of social media for an entire day, then we would do well to examine how we are choosing to live our lives.
3. Start waking up earlier.
Sleeping in late is a treasured commodity for many people, especially college students. No one wants to wake up for an 8:30 class. However, waking up earlier, even just an hour earlier, gives us an incredible opportunity to start our day with an intention to work on being our best self and live the best life possible. Try starting a small, manageable morning routine. Some people exercise or journal. Others do yoga and meditate. Start small. Try whatever resonates with you. Starting the day early is one of the best ways to gain clarity and focus in our lives. This is especially important for post-grads, as our lives can be confusing, exciting, lonely, frustrating, and exhilarating all at the same time.
4. Exercise as often as possible.
Every day there is more and more research showing the profound benefits of exercise on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Not only has exercise been proven to improve mood, confidence and self-esteem, it also has profound effects on our brain. In his groundbreaking book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science Of Exercise And The Brain, John Ratey, MD, explains that “By elevating restorative chemicals with a moderate workout (jogging), you’re strengthening the circuits in your brain.” Even walking has been proven to increase the production of key neurotransmitters that help us feel and be our best. Exercise is one of those rare “win-win” activities in life that has virtually no downside, and almost unlimited upside.
5. Consolidate your group of friends.
Most people are familiar with the phrase, “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with,” and this is true now more than ever. You are who your friends are, and you will travel in the same direction are your friends, no exceptions. That is true mentally, emotionally, financially, and professionally. As we transition into the real world, time becomes our most precious commodity. That means we can and should make an effort to spend time with those who we truly enjoy spending time with. Make no mistake, this is not personal and there is no need to feel guilty for falling out of touch with those who no longer share the same interests, motivations, and inspirations we do. It simply means we are becoming more conscious of who we spend our time with because we understand how precious time is and how deeply others effect us. If we spend too much time with people whose lives are not going in the direction we want to go, we’ll end up going where they want to go and vice versa.
This transition from undergraduate to postgraduate life has as much to do with who you want to be as it does with what you want to do. The key to navigating this transition is to become the right person. We may not have control of the economy, the job market, or our environment, but we have complete control over who we are as people. Successful and healthy habits are what ultimately create a successful and healthy person. First we create a habit, then the habit creates us.