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Students: stay focused on goals

Now that college graduates are done with their education, they can finally sit back and relax — or can they?

The American Psychological Association website says “… the unpredictable economy and the high rate of unemployment can put graduates at unease.”

The magical formula for the dream life is go to school, get a degree, find your career.

However, students are going deep into debt for degrees that may or may not get them into their chosen career field. There are countless uncertainties now that you are out in what is often referred to as the “real world.”

Also, some graduates may not know the first steps to take after graduating.

New responsibilities and other big changes can add a lot of stress. Some graduates may even become depressed and wonder if the hard work and time was worth it.

This is where you stop and take a deep breath. Don’t second think your dedication to a better future.

To keep these fears and stresses at bay, the American Psychological Association website lists five steps to help you face the challenges after graduation: Focus on the positive, stay connected, look for opportunities, take action and be resilient.

While it can be intimidating, remember you have gotten this far so don’t let fears limit where you go in your life.

Build yourself up with positive thoughts. You can admit your fears but don’t hold onto them.

Have a support system — whether friends or family — and make sure they are positive too. You don’t need a negative person influencing your thoughts.

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to expand yourself. Learn something new. You might surprise yourself with new pastimes you didn’t think you would enjoy.

Be active in looking for your dream job. A career will not fall into your lap just because you have a degree.

And most importantly, face adversity well. You will get the answer “no” often. Use that as an opportunity to grow and learn. Don’t let failures become the end of your journey; make them a new path toward your goal.

Let me share some advice my grandfather gave me as a child: “Don’t try to eat an elephant all at once. You have to take one bite at a time.”

At the time I didn’t quite understand what he meant but now, that advice is invaluable to me. I always look at the big picture first and that can be very overwhelming at times. It is stressful because I often have no idea where to start.

My advice? Take baby steps. Don’t look so far forward that you can’t see the steps you need to take to get there. Make a list of small realistic and achievable goals to help you get to your big one.

Remember to enjoy your journey or your destination won’t be what you thought it would be. If you look back and have only bad memories, your goal will be bittersweet.

And now for the finale. It is okay to change your goals. We as people change and grow constantly. Maybe the goal you had when you graduated is not a good direction for where your life is now.

I urge flexibility. Don’t be the captain who goes down with the ship if you need to make changes.

For more information, or to read the full article, visit the American Psychological Association at www.apa.org/helpcenter/real-world.aspx [1].