I’m going to be honest with you—I was lucky. It took me about two months after graduation to find a job. That’s not to say that it’s everyone’s dream, nor is it achievable in every circumstance. But alas, here are some techniques that got me there.
Make Sure You Want a Job for the Right Reasons
First and foremost you need to look deeply within yourself and make sure you’re making this choice based on sound reasoning.
Do you want one because you would like to make money, gain experience, fit in with the rest of society? Question yourself before you decide that it’s really the path you want to take. Do it for you, not to prove anything to anyone else.
There’s not really a perfect way that people secure jobs, but there are definitely things you can do to increase your chances of getting one that you want.
The most unexpected encounters with people can turn into jobs you never considered. People are very willing to help you out if you let them. As was stated in the book The Education of Millionaires, the real test of success is one’s ability to find good mentors. I found mine unexpectedly through an internship I took on during college.
Develop Skills Outside of Class
To be honest, most of the skills I’m using in my current job I gained by working on side projects. I run this blog, which proved to my employer that I’m able to coordinate a project, that I have basic HTML and CSS skills, and that I can think deeply about a topic. On top of that, because my job involves using skills that I developed in my free time, I actually enjoy what I’m working on. Crazy, ain’t it?
College isn’t necessary, but it makes the employer feel safer about hedging their bets on you. In my experience, an employer is looking for someone who can bring projects to completion, and who has the drive to continuously better themselves and the environment around them. One way to prove this is by finishing college. For one thing, the value of going to college definitely depends on how you crafted your experience while there.
Some of the smartest people out there have not completed their degree—some haven’t even tried to. That’s a risk they were willing to take. It was a risk that often times freed up a lot of mental faculty. If they had been in college, they’d have taken potentially dozens of semi-useless classes full of fluff-time and assignments and tests that don’t speak to the true skills of the student.
Don’t Undervalue Yourself
See yourself for what you’re worth. Understand that your time here on earth is precious. Why waste your mental RAM and your emotional resources working somewhere for free in hopes of maybe, possibly, securing a job after the initial grunt work is over? If you’re contributing to a company, they should pay you fairly for your time. There really isn’t an excuse to work for free unless you’re trying to prove yourself.
This also means, however, that I’d advise you not to take a crap-job unless absolutely necessary. If you’ve got a little money in the bank and no dependents, why would you whore out your mind and body to do something you don’t even care about? Use your time to work on something meaningful, contribute to society, and be at peace with yourself by growing your mind in other ways.
Choosing a healthy diet that helps you feel your best and gives you consistent energy is not as straightforward as it seems. For one, you could be currently eating a food that is deemed healthy by the food pyramid but that can’t be processed by your body. In that case, it doesn’t matter that it’s a “health” food if your body doesn’t feel good after consuming it.
How Food Affects Your Body
One day a couple of weeks ago I noticed a sudden increase in zits on my face. Most of the elements in my life had remained stable—all except for my diet. After a thorough review I realized I had been eating cheese every day for the past week. This was the culprit. Once I cut that out of my meals and drank more water to help flush any toxins from my system, the offending pimples vanished.
Same story with dairy in general. I don’t feel very good after eating it, so I’ve cut most instances of it out of my diet. I buy light, original Silk soy milk instead of cow’s milk, and use Earth Balance butter for my baking needs.
You’re likely the only person that can detect the impact that food can have on your body. The key is to test certain foods and your energy levels once you consume those foods, keeping most other factors of your life constant. This simple change in the food you eat can mean a whole lot for your physical performance and overall health.
How to Stay Full and Still Eat Healthy
A common myth is that women who are fit (read: have visible muscle tone and are generally at a healthy weight for their height) eat very little. Images of celery and salads might pop into your mind as a quick association. This is so far from true. The healthiest and sexiest women I’ve seen/read about eat real food and feel satiated after their meals. In order to do this, you need your proper mix of macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And yes, vegetables count as carbohydrates. They provide your body with energy at a low calorie count and are full of water and fiber to keep you full.
One of the problems I constantly hear people struggling with—and I’m not immune to this either—is controlling appetite. Your relationship with food is an intimately emotional process. You might eat when you’re not feeling hungry. It’s okay, it happens to me too. As I tried to dig deeper into the reasons behind why this might be happening, I came across a couple of potential solutions.
Take it slow, and meditate. A form of procrastination, if you will, for overeating during your meal is to take it slow. Chew thoroughly, take smaller bites, eat with someone who eats slowly, drink some water in between bites, put your fork down, whatever it takes. Along with that thought is consciously thinking about the food that you’re putting into your body.
Even if you’re eating a healthy meal, it’s very possible to overeat. Think about why you’re eating. Once you hit a certain amount of fullness—say 70%, stop. Since your body takes about 20 minutes to register a feeling of fullness, if you stop at 70% fullness, you’ve probably already reached that point but just don’t know it yet. Treat it like a test of discipline. It’s really humbling to know that you’ve left food on the table because your body and your mind are in tune and you’ve got enough control to resist the remaining food. You can be full and satisfied without overeating.
Test it! A quick way to figure out if you’re overeating throughout the day is this: If you wake up after a night of about 7-9 hours of sleep and you still feel full. That, for me, has always been an indicator of having eaten more than my allotment of daily calories.
Forget What You’ve Heard About “Diets”
My philosophy is that I’m never on a “diet.” Instead, eating healthy is a lifestyle. Therefore, I’m not going to completely cut out anything I think I won’t be able to resist, otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure. In general, I reach for whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruit, and lay off the dairy, sugar, fruit juices and sodas. And as for consuming junk food…it happens sometimes. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a cheat day, meal, or snack about once or twice a week.
Which foods work best for your body?
Create a bare bones skeleton of the tasks you need to complete in order to make your goal happen. This is where a lot of people get stuck. Some might say, “Well I don’t know every single step to take to achieve my goal.”
It’s true: there may be some grey areas, or steps that you just can’t seem to imagine the answer to right now. None of that matters. The most important thing to do at this moment is start. You can adjust course along the way.
Plan, but do it efficiently
When starting out for the first time, don’t over-plan. You might waste your time by becoming overly involved with a step in the process that you might not even end up implementing. It’s kind of like editing before you’re done writing the piece. You’re spending precious moments tweaking a phrase that you might end up cutting out completely.
If you spend time figuring out details that you’ll eliminate from your plans later, then you’re not being efficient in how you’re reaching your goals. The path to efficiency in goal-reaching is to identify the minimum plans needed to get you started and then just start.
Carve out dedicated time
If you say that you’re serious about something, and it’s not one of the first things on your mind when you wake up or at least scheduled on your to-do list, you’re not actually serious about it.
When a project/goal/skill is important to you, the best thing you can do for yourself is to consciously plan it into your day. Make it non-negotiable. For example, you can say, “Today I am dedicating two hours to learning how to code,” or “Today I will run three miles without stopping,” because those steps will get you closer to your end-goal of doing that thing well. Without this specific plan, the time in your day will pass you by and you will not have made any progress on what you consider important in your life.
I hold the opinion that you need to be excited about something to do it well. Even if you’re just cooking a meal, you’ve got to be excited about it for it to taste like quality food. It’s the idea of injecting love into everything you do. When people say that a dish was “made with love,” you can absolutely taste the difference in a dish that was carefully prepared, and one that was thrown together haphazardly.
Another aspect of getting into the mindset of doing well at something is to immerse yourself into whatever it is you’re doing. This is an easy way to automate the process.
Being constantly surrounded by a culture that already does something well (speaking a language fluently, for example) is extremely helpful. You will not only be surrounded by those who you want to mirror, but you will also be forced to interact at their level.
Say you want to learn Spanish. By traveling to a region like South America you’ll have the opportunity to be mixed in with the locals, speaking Spanish on a daily basis even while doing ordinary tasks like purchasing something at the market. Given enough time, your level of Spanish will improve to match up with theirs.
With that being said, I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who are capable of a high level of proficiency. Just as you would never train for a serious competition by playing a sport against a beginner, you would not want to limit yourself to only interacting with people who are mediocre at the skill/task you set out to accomplish well.
How is it that people get better at what they do? They practice, sure. But beyond practicing there’s a more important tactic that most successful people use. They finish things. They bring their work to completion—and often.
How does that play out when the average person is attempting to get better at something? It’s easy to put off doing something because we’re afraid of doing it wrong. That results in many of us not doing anything at all. We don’t always complete things, and sometimes, we don’t even try.
For my running regime, I told myself that the more I ran, the better I’d be. Because it’s true. It didn’t matter where I ran, how fast, or on which terrain. The fact was, if I ran I got better at it. My endurance increased, and the musculature of my legs improved.
The cool thing was–I got better just by doing it. I didn’t even have to do it well to be able to see improvement.
Completing a workout a few times a week was utterly satisfying.
The point of the completion exercise isn’t to become perfect, but rather to recognize imperfection and uncertainty and let it become part of the process. I’ve written many a college essay from a vague or ambiguous prompt, straining against the posed question because I wasn’t sure what the professor was expecting.
After turning my essays in, I would get respectable grades on them because often times the professor was just gauging whether or not we could think critically, engage with a topic and finish a full essay.
That lesson was one that I’d like to extend to other areas of my life. Sometimes, you just need to give yourself permission to suck. Completing something allows you to get used to the process, and eventually improve because you’re not afraid to keep going—you know what it feels like to finish.
So, get your work out there even if you have no idea what you’re doing at first. Because that’s the first step in eventually being great.
The picture above is of me and my friends right before I ran my first 5k ever! Such a proud moment.