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5 Life Lessons That You Won’t Learn In College

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I’ve never been a fan of post-secondary formal education. Not because of the skyrocketing tuition prices or the fact that most college students enter school without a solid idea of what job they want. It’s the fact that going to college doesn’t properly prepare you for being a successful adult in the real world.

1. To be successful, you need to be specific about what you want

In college, you can slip by for a few semesters with only a sliver of an idea of what you want to do for a living but when entering the real world, you need to be a little more specific. You need to know exactly what you want from the world so you can create a plan of action and attack your aspirations head on.

 

2. In most job markets, formal education will always be second to experience

When it comes to hiring, employers value one thing above all else: experience.All the degrees, certifications, letters of recommendation and references in the world are outweighed by the simple sentence:

“Ten years experience with a proven track record of success in the industry.”

To that end, if you like doing something and want to turn it into a career, simply do it.

Do it, practice it, become good at it and, in the end, you’ll land the job you want.

 

3. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself

You may know the proper way to file end-of-year earnings reports and how many creamers the boss likes in his coffee but, really, what does any of it matter if you don’t know who you are? The average 9-to-5 job pits an individual against themselves and floods them with an overflow of useless knowledge that inhibits their ability to get up-close and personal with their own identities.

To get the most out of your career, you need to find a job, or business, that pushes you to explore your secret talents, and hidden abilities.

 

4. Enjoying life and having fun is far more important than holding down a steady 9-to-5

Would you spend 40 hours of your free time every week doing something unrewarding? Probably not, right? In a very real sense, every single hour of your life is free time… so why not take advantage of every second of it? If your job doesn’t excite you, and if it isn’t something you would do for free in your spare time… search for a new career.

There’s more to life than a suit and tie, and it’s up to you to find that perfect job — conventional or not — that provides you with the room you need to satisfy your bold and adventurous impulses.

 

5. If you do happen to take on a 9-to-5, you need to take care of yourself

If you’re making a choice to pursue a steady 9-to-5, go on at least 4 vacations a year. When monotony is running high, your boss is calling you for that expense report for the 7th time in a row and you feel like your head is going to explode… don’t take the afternoon or the next few days to blow things off, fly to Jamaica. Relax under the Caribbean sun, play hooky, and flirt with some locals until you feel like heading back. That down time will do wonders for your mental health and your productivity; you’ll be much happier and able to do your job effectively.

And if your cookie-cutter job doesn’t come with enough off time? Feel no shame in mercilessly negotiating your way into a few extra “sick” days.

Over the years, I’ve learned that happiness doesn’t come from locking yourself into a lifelong career at the age of eighteen. It comes from liberally experimenting with your life’s direction, and having a rather flexible existence.

 

Ultimately, while college can prepare you for a job that seems interesting at the moment it can’t prepare you for the inevitable changes that you go through in life. In order to truly experience all that life has to offer, you’ve got to define what you want, devote yourself to practicing it, remain true to yourself and pursue your dreams with an open mind.

Like this post? Check out: 10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Never Enroll In College

Author bio:  Nonconformist, freedom enthusiast, and part-time Trekkie, Trent is a professional life coach that helps free-thinkers live amazing lives, and encourages everyone to challenge the status quo, and think outside the box when it comes to: Work, success, love, and freedom. Drive by helloimtrent.com sometime, or follow Trent on Twitter.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Megan Hicks

    May 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you Trent! This is a really useful article for young people just starting their adult life. I write a blog for students and cover the issues that might arise on the start of their careers. And I totally agree that as long as you are not entirely sure what you want to do in life this 9-to-5 job is just going to make you miserable.

    I myself was a perfect example of a student you described in the first two points: I studied Economics in college without even thinking of how I will use this education in the future and what exactly I want to become. This was a huge mistake – choosing a major without thinking it all through. I have now found what I like to do. And it’s not connected with economics at all. Now that I think of it – I wasted 5 years of college studying something I never liked.

    Anyway, thanks again for this article!

  2. Jithin Mathew Joseph

    Sep 2, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I want to know how can I find which is my dream carrer. And how to figure out my talents.

  3. Phil Janecic

    Aug 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Nice points, I love how you covered both sides of the spectrum (job-life balance).

    • Granville Louw

      Aug 26, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Well said….the most important relationship you is the one you have with yourself.

      I always say….

      Whether you’re about to graduate from college, or are 15 years into your career, how do you decide when and what will determine that you’re a success? I see incredibly impressive(graduates) people struggle with this question all of the time.
      The hardest part is that it is undefined and it has to come from you. To me, success means understanding three things: what you want, why you want it and how you’re going to get it.

      “formal education will -always- be second to experience”……I tend to this disagree with this. Where I come from, formal education serves as priority one when applying for Jobs. Somehow many of the baby boomers places a high value on someone with a degree, instead of someone who worked for a Google for years.
      I always say, it is all based on critical factor: Paradigms.

      • Trent W. Nelson

        Aug 27, 2014 at 12:50 am

        “Whether you’re about to graduate from college, or are 15 years into your career, how do you decide when and what will determine that you’re a success? I see incredibly impressive(graduates) people struggle with this question all of the time.”

        I think it’s a common conundrum because, as you said, they dont realize that it is up to them to define success for themselves. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or an employee, you will always have trouble feeling as if you’ve accomplished a great deal, if the definition of success is contrived from another person, or institution.

        I find that most degrees are quite useless because they dont inform prospective employers of the individual’s ability to practically apply the knowledge they have acquired through attending college; it simply displays that the candidate is able to memorize information, and regurgitate it on command.

        This is why doctoral degrees hold so much weight; in order to get one, you have to do your own research, and defend your findings to a board of experts.

        And the comment about formal education being second to experience, it honestly just depends on who you plan on working for. Personally, as an ambitious 20-something entrepreneur, I would never get into business with someone that valued a piece of paper over actual experience.

        I find it rather insulting to work for or with people that you don’t respect, so I choose not to go down that road in my career.

  4. Liv

    Aug 26, 2014 at 1:41 am

    i feel a lot of people loose track of life and get overwhelmed working a job based solely on financial gain. Society has taught people to take the traditional route or the route that guarantees the most money and security. security and money is fine but not living the life you want to live drains you mentally and physically.

    • Trent W. Nelson

      Aug 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      Financial gain is probably one of the biggest reasons why people choose certain college majors over others. I’ve met many people that refuse to get a psych degree because they think there’s no money in it, and while I happen to agree with them, I dont think it’s best to choose a career path based solely on it’s money-making potential.

      But the bigger problem is people not negotiating their worth. You can get into a great school, and pursue a field of study that has potential, but if you’re not sure of your worth, you will never be truly happy with your work. If you cant negotiate your way into a few perks, and creature comforts that make your work environment fun, and engaging, jumping the hurdle of formal education seems futile.

    • Gabriel

      Aug 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I agree with Liv.

      Unfortunately, today school trains people to become employees and work a job they hate, for the rest of their lives. Self Education, on the other hand is what all successful people focus on and hence the creation of this amazing site

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Life

9 Personal Growth Lessons I Learned From Being Bullied

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Wherever I went, bullying seemed to follow me. Whether it was school, work or even family, I could never seem to find any kind of escape. For years, I was stuck in the victim mindset, constantly asking myself what I did to deserve this kind of behaviour towards me. I decided to turn my struggle into a personal growth strategy to help others who might be silently struggling with what I did.

Here are some of the key personal growth lessons I learnt from my harrowing experiences:

1. Be the victim

Be the victim but put an early as possible expiration date on this. Realise that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself; it is okay to validate yourself by reinforcing the fact that you didn’t deserve what happened to you. This will help you give yourself the compassion that you need in that moment. Recognition of the hurt and validation are the first steps towards starting the healing process, but the key is not to hang around there for too long otherwise you will be stuck with a victim mentality.

2. Why?

This is a question that is often asked – why did this happen to me? Were the stars misaligned or is this karma for sneaking the last doughnut from the party? Rather than getting bogged down analysing why you went through the harrowing experience, focus on what you learnt from the experience. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as finding your voice and setting boundaries. Every difficult situation offers an opportunity to learn.

3. Focus on the lesson, not on the pain

Whenever faced with a tough situation, ask yourself, “What am I learning from this?” Often, when drowning in dire circumstances, we cannot see light and we fear that any light might be an oncoming train. The best way to deal with this fear and overwhelm is to refocus your thoughts. Oftentimes, the lesson falls under one of the following categories: perseverance, patience, consistency and my personal favourite – staying true to who you are.

4. Control the controllable

Within every difficult situation, there are always factors you can control: your responses, your disposition and your actions. Using what you can control, redirect your energy on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t do. Sometimes, what you can do is simply getting through your day and giving everything you can. This helps in building self-confidence and self-esteem.

“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

5. You do you

It is a normal human desire to be liked by those around us. Avoid trying to change who you are based on what others say about you. It is very tempting to do this because we all want to feel accepted and want to feel that we belong. The more you do you, the more you will attract people who love you for the “real” you.

6. It is not about you

When people criticize you incessantly, recognise that they are battling their own demons and they are easily triggered. You are not the real reason for their hurtful behaviour, they are filled with fear, anger and hurt which they vent out to others. You can only give what you have and if fear, anger and hurt is all you have, it is the only place from which you will function.

7. You have the power to choose

It is easy to forget that we always have the power of our choices and decisions, while our circumstances may be overwhelming, we can still make wise choices so as not to become victims of our circumstances. We should never forget this power as this is what keeps us afloat and breathing when caught in a flood of difficulties.

8. Revenge is not the answer

While it is perfectly normal and human to wish revenge on those who have hurt us, it is crucial to note that what we wish upon others, mirrors back to us. Wishing your culprits to battle incessant sneezing while stuck in traffic controlling explosive diarrhea might give a moment of satisfaction, but is this something you are willing to risk mirroring back to you? I certainly am not. Put quite simply – negativity breeds negativity while positivity breeds positivity. Remember, you have the power to choose.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

9. Forgive

Don’t gasp so loudly. Yes, forgive those who have hurt you. Why? It definitely doesn’t absolve them of the hurt they caused you, but it releases you from the chains of negativity that are binding and rooting you in place preventing you from moving on. How do you forgive? Ask whatever higher power you believe in to filter those who have hurt you out of your life, sending them blessings and healing wherever they may need it in their lives while also blessing over positive outcomes for all of you.

I have used this technique personally and I swear by it. Sending blessings and healing while asking for positive outcomes, results in all these wonderful things happening to you as well. Giving what you have mirrors back to you. You have the power to forgive, let go and move on. This is a choice that you also happen to have the power to choose.

The next time you feel stuck and overwhelmed by your circumstances, revisit these personal growth lessons and apply them to your unique situation. You will be glad that you did.


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6 Reasons Why You Should Never Glorify Failure After You’ve Failed

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Many people are ashamed of failure. If they so much as smell a whiff of failure, they quit instantly because the public notices it quickly. But you shouldn’t be ashamed of failure. A lot of people have failed. I’ve failed over and over again in my career, business, relationships and more. Yet, I keep trying because failure isn’t the final verdict. (more…)

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Life

How to Move Forward When All Seems Lost

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A few weeks ago, the relationship of my venture with a long-term client turned rocky. Losing them would mean a huge loss for my business, but it appeared like that’s where we were headed. My mind raced with unpleasant thoughts. Maybe the client had figured out that I couldn’t lead my team well. Maybe I was not good enough to be an entrepreneur. Maybe I was not good enough to do anything.

Why was the world so unfair?! Within moments, my anxiety had shot through the roof and my heart was racing faster than an F1 car engine. But I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.

Why Problems Overwhelm Us

As human beings, we’re good at solving problems, so they shouldn’t stress us out. Yet, they do just that. Why?

Consider some of these situations in life. When a relationship is headed for troubled waters, we wonder whether our partner loves us anymore. Our mind unearths memories of when we got dumped or rejected. We blame ourselves for falling for the wrong people and tell ourselves that we’re not worth receiving love.

How do you think the relationship will steer after that? If we cannot stick to a diet, we think of other times when we gave up. We remember what people said about things that we couldn’t do and ask ourselves, “were they right?” We tell ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to succeed at anything.

Do you think we’ll find the grit to stick to the diet after this? So here we are… thinking we’re not good enough to be entrepreneurs, to be loved, to get promoted, or to achieve our personal goals. Notice a pattern yet? We move in the wrong direction. The destination is to achieve the goal. And unless we stop giving into emotions and start addressing situations, we’ll keep failing to get there.

Negative emotions (and even extremely positive ones) blur our vision. The more we focus on them, the deeper we go into how we feel. We either get angry because things aren’t the way we want them to be, or get paralyzed by the fear of the worst possible outcome. This means we pull away from the one thing we must do to set things right — take action.

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.” – Dale Carnegie

How to Take Action in the Face of Problems

Most human beings are good at solving problems. Where we get blindsided is at diagnosing the right problem. To diagnose the right problem, we must address the situation instead of emotions. We must see things for what they are, collect facts on what we’re worrying about, and then ask ourselves, “What should I do next?”

In his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, Dale Carnegie wrote: “Neither you nor I nor Einstein nor the Supreme Court of the United States is brilliant enough to reach an intelligent decision on any problem without first getting the facts.”

To address the tricky situation with my client, I took the following three steps:

1. First, I acknowledged the feeling

Solving a problem doesn’t mean ignoring emotions. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel because it reveals the path, but domesticating your emotions is more important. I acknowledged how I felt by saying, “I feel anxious because the client might not want to work with us anymore and this will be a financial loss for us.”

Note how I said “I feel anxious” and not “I’m a loser.” If I had given into negative chatter, I wouldn’t have uncovered the direction to move in (the part after “because”). This is why domesticating emotions is crucial.

2. Next, I prepared for the worst

We often run from our worst fears rather than facing them despite knowing that the worst outcome rarely comes true. The result is that we stay stuck in fear instead of pushing beyond it. And we never discover what we’re really capable of, which sucks.

In my case, the worst meant losing the client. It would hurt but it was the truth. However, we could get more clients. Plus we already had other clients who helped us pay the bills. In other words, I wouldn’t have to live on the street.

The moment I accepted this, a huge weight got lifted off my chest. This prepared me for the third and final step.

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Lastly, I examined the situation

Examining a situation means setting aside your emotional baggage and focusing on facts. When you trust that you’ll be okay, you become better at diagnosing the real problem. Once I felt lighter, I could see things clearly.

I used the 5 Whys Technique (asking “why” five times) to figure out the real reason for the client’s dissatisfaction. Then I collected data on the issue and on what we had previously delivered.

Finally, I reached out to the CEO of the client and held a detailed and constructive discussion based on my findings. Within four days, the CEO and I were back to the way things were before.

The best way to prepare for tomorrow is to give today your best. I’m not sure whether the issue with the client got resolved for good or whether the client won’t pack up and leave one day. However, I am sure that I’m prepared to handle such cases better today than I was yesterday.

Control your emotions instead of letting them run amok. Accept things for what they are instead of what you want them to be. Be realistic instead of delusional. Address the situation instead of succumbing to emotions.

Don’t preempt what lies ten miles ahead and get paralyzed by fear. Address what lies clearly in front of you and keep moving. One day you’ll be surprised about how close to your destination you are.

How do you move forward when all hope seems to be lost? Share your advice below!

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Life

8 Effective Tips to Improve Your Emotional Wellbeing

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You know what they say, “Health Is Wealth”. But, more often than not, we only mean it in the context of physical health. There’s no question that being fit is the world’s greatest treasure. Unfortunately, not a lot of us take time out to look after our emotional health and wellbeing.

Let’s not forget – it’s ‘Mind Over Matter’. So, if you are able to take control of your emotions, thoughts, how you feel through the day and how you respond to myriad situations; there’s nothing quite like it. When you become the master of your emotions; health, prosperity, and basically all good things are bound to follow you.

With that said, here are 8 surefire ways that will improve your emotional wellbeing:

1. Practice Mindfulness

Half the time, we don’t even know what we’re thinking or how we’re feeling. That’s because we let our minds operate on autopilot. It’s time to take control of your mind. Be aware of what and how you feel throughout the day. The upside to this practice is that you can detect negative emotions right on the onset and quickly change them and their corresponding feeling.

Feelings of anger, jealousy, hatred; they are not good for the mind, soul, or the body. Paying close attention to the spectrum of emotions you experience throughout the day, will help you detect the negative ones and kick them away before they fester deep enough to take away your happiness and emotional health.

2. Stay Physically Active

As you engage in physical activities, your brain produces a whole bunch of feel-good hormones such as endorphins and dopamine. These hormones are what causes the ‘elated’ or ‘euphoric’ feeling. Being physically active uplifts your mood and your outlook towards life. It readies you to take the challenges more head-on instead of becoming overwhelmed by the littlest of inconvenience.

You are better able to analyze tough situations and take a more proactive rather than a reactive approach. It’s no question physical health is in direct proportion with emotional health. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body and vice versa.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – Sid Garza-Hillman

3. Get Sufficient Sleep

Ever noticed how you feel depressed and cranky, and just out of focus the day you fail to get a good night’s sleep? Well, if you fail to get sufficient sleep for a couple of days, you are bound to feel more depressed, cranky and eventually more prone to a host of negative emotions. Research shows that sleep deprivation sends amygdala – our brain’s emotional response center into overdrive.

Amygdala controls our immediate emotional responses. When it becomes overactive, we become more reactive rather than active. We become more irritable, angry and anxious. A good night’s sleep is vital to improving your emotional wellbeing.

4. Develop a New Hobby

Learn to swim. Try arts and crafts. How about painting? Swimming is a ‘happy’ activity. You get to make new friends and stay fit. Arts and crafts, as we all know, tends to have a relaxing effect on the mind and the nerves.

Just the process of creating something from scratch makes you confident and gets those creative juices flowing. Similarly, painting helps you express yourself. All these factors together create a ‘happy you’. The one who likes to engage in new things instead of resisting change or difficult situations.

5. Eat Healthy

Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s true to the last syllable. When you eat foods rich in salt, sodium, fat – you are bound to feel lethargic. It takes longer for the body to digest such foods. That means the body is forced to deprive organs of blood and use it for the digestion purpose.

Result? You become lazy, moody, not ready to take any responsibility which leads to feeling cranky and irritable. On the other hand, eating fibrous vegetables, fruits, salads, and complex sugars keeps you upbeat and healthy.

6. Laugh Your Heart Out

Laughter is the best medicine. That is why they have a dedicated ‘laughter session’ in yoga studios. You don’t even have to mean it. The simple act of spreading your cheeks and pretending to laugh sends a signal to your body that you are happy.

And what happens when you are happy? Your brain releases happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin and what not. In fact, many studies have gone so far as to stipulate that laughter alone is capable of treating all kinds of physical ailments. Why should emotional ailments be any different?

7. Try Relaxation Techniques

‘’Visualization technique’’ where you imagine yourself in a happy place is a surefire way to calm your nerves if you find yourself distressed. You may also try praying to elate yourself. Praying is good for the mind and the soul.

Controlled breathing or ‘biofeedback technique’ are some other relaxation techniques that can tame how you feel and even your bodily functions. Try surrounding yourself with aromatherapy or scented candles because the smell is a big factor in governing how we feel.

“Positive emotional energy is the key to health, happiness and wellbeing. The more positive you are, the better your life will be in every area.” – Brian Tracy

8. Count Your Blessings

We all have so much to be thankful for. It could be a friend who stands by you or a happy family. Good health. Financial freedom. Make a list of all the things that you feel grateful for in your life. If it’s a person, be sure to communicate your feelings and express your gratitude.

You will feel so much happier. Happiness is the diet of a healthy mind and an intelligent emotional response mechanism. You could also try writing a poem or simply expressing your gratitude through the power of prayers.

There are so many ways to become emotionally intelligent and not one of them requires any investment or special skills. Practically anyone and everyone can do it. All you need is the will and the desire.

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