The transition from the end of school to the beginning of adulthood is very hard. Today that transition lasts longer than it used to, because there are so many choices and so few tried and true career paths — if any — that work anymore.
Here are five things to keep in mind to make the transition into adulthood a litte easier:
1. Don’t expect things to fall into place too soon.
Today most people use their twenties as a time to search, and then settle down around age thirty. It’s a smart thing to do given the wide range of choices there are for young people today. It’s a great idea to use your twenties to explore — as long as you don’t berate yourself for not knowing what you’re doing. In fact, it’s only a very small percentage of college graduates who know what they are doing with their lives when they graduate. Most start figuring it out when they leave college.
2. Take some risks.
Maybe you’ll move a bunch of times before you figure out the place that will make you most happy. And you’ll probably change jobs three or four times to find something you like. Exploration is common — in a wide range of arenas — and smart. It’s the only way to really know what you like, and this is the time to do it. When you are living in a dump and you hate your job, you can reframe your situation in a way that acknowledges that you are a living in a time where you are trying things to see what works – nothing is permanent and you learn from bad choices.
3. Lookout for depression.
One of the demographic groups at highest risk for depression are people in their early twenties. This is because the transition to adulthood is so difficult. And the time people often feel depression is about a year after graduation, when their work life turns out to be much less interesting than anticipated, and college friends are scattered geographically and making new friends is difficult. Depression is a treatable disease, if you get treatment. Depression is serious — it’s not a time to rely solely on friends and family. Call a professional.
4. Calm down about your debt.
Yes, young people today start out life with more debt than ever before, but this doesn’t have to be a road to disaster. Think in terms of workarounds. For example, most likely your version of the American dream is not about money, so you can fulfill your dreams while dealing with debt. And while you probably want to do work that fulfills you, you don’t have to starve doing that — CollegeSurfing Insider gives examples of how you can pair soul-filling work with good-paying work to find a career that will make you happy.
5. Surround yourself with mentors.
One of the most important indicators of how good you will be at getting what you want in adult life is how strong your network of mentors is. One of the Mentors can be a wide range of people. Your parents count. Your friends count. And your parents’ friends count. But you need to start roping them in early. Mentor relationships require cultivation, and the earlier you start the more support you’ll have getting through your twenties.
So what about Coachology? Hallie Crawford is a career coach who works a lot with young people who are just starting out in their work life. She is donating 90 minutes of coaching (over the phone) to help someone get themselves on track, in terms of where they want to go and how they can get there. You don’t need to set your path in stone, but it’s good to have some path in mind, even knowing that it will change. Hallie can help you find your path by understanding yourself a little bit better in terms of your career.
To get a better sense of Hallie’s ideas, check out her blog. To get free coaching from Hallie, send an email to me by Sunday, March 18, with three sentences describing what you’d like to get from working with Hallie.