Like many others, I graduated from college this past spring and started my new office job in August.
I am now realizing I no longer have many guidelines left for how to live my life.
If you’re like me, you often feel like an outsider because you want to go down life paths that seem to cancel one another out.
You want to be a humanitarian, an adventurer and a business mogul.
To add more pressure to your internal dilemma, you probably have friends who have confidently chosen to volunteer with the Peace Corps for the next two years, become expats while working in Costa Rican hostels or become hardworking, NYC-living entrepreneurs.
Then, just to make your head spin a little more, they post the highlights of their lives all over social media.
Like yeah, I get it, Linda.
You are single-handedly fixing the world’s water crisis, but I kind of need to finish this season of “Nashville” before I figure out how to do my part.
Maybe you feel like a sellout when you hang out with your adventurer friends.
But hanging out with your career-minded friends feels a little boring because corporate jargon and boozy brunches get old (and expensive) real fast for you.
But here is a question: Why can’t you pursue your career ambitions while balancing an adventurous life outside of the office, all while doing good for the world?
In reality, most exciting tasks cost money, whether they’re travel, extreme sports or flying lessons.
You can’t save the world without taking care of yourself first.
The notion that you can’t lead a life that is equal parts thrilling, accomplishing and self-inspiring while having an office job is a myth.
Here are four tricks to help you achieve the kind of life you want:
1. Plan with discretion.
I like the age-old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
I have to be meticulous in planning my weekends and post-work hours, or else I inevitably end up watching an embarrassing number of shows.
(Netflix, stay in your lane and stop asking me if I’m still there. You and I both know the answer.)
The truth is, once you’re out of college, there is a lot less going on.
You have to be proactive about filling your calendar with things to do.
Use your discretion while planning things out because different scenarios require different levels of planning.
Sometimes, you are only in a new city for 48 hours. To make the most of your stay, you have to plan out the entire weekend.
Sometimes, you really need the creative juices to flow in a meeting. Then, less planning is recommended.
Make sure to reflect on the desired outcome, and then plan (or don’t plan) accordingly.
2. Keep your head in your work, and keep your work at work.
This statement is easier said than done.
On the bright side, keeping our heads in our work is completely in our control.
While it’s difficult because ambitious, adventuring souls are always daydreaming about the next trip they want to take or the next skill they want to master, being focused on the tasks at hand at work is not impossible.
There are a bunch of tricks you can find online, or you can just ask the person on the desk next to yours to keep you in check.
Keeping your work at work, though, may be a tad bit more difficult.
Everyone’s job is different and has a different set of demands.
But, I encourage you to have designated time for your work, even if you have to schedule in a few hours during the weekend.
From experience, I can tell you that worrying about obligations during your time off can lead to feelings of guilt and hinder any hope you have of having fun.
3. Always look to accomplish more in every aspect of your life.
Recently, my current boss at my job gave me some really helpful advice.
She recommended that I master the position I have, and then start acquiring the skills expected of those at a level higher.
As simple as the idea is, it is very effective advice.
It’s not just for your career, but also for what you expect from yourself outside of work.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Make sure that discomfort is not an unfamiliar feeling for you. Try something new as much as possible.
Ever tried solo travel?
Ever tried to learn a new adventure sport?
Ever gone to see a movie alone?
Ever hosted and prepared a multi-course dinner for your friends?
The truth is, adventure looks different to everyone.
It is up to you to figure out what the next step in your development is.
Learning is a never-ending, full-time occupation, no matter whether it’s pertaining to work-related matters or your personal self.
Climb that next mountain in your life, be it literal or hypothetical.
4. Express gratitude.
Finally, the best way to lead a life mixed with business and adventure is to just be thankful for it all.
Expressing gratitude to either yourself, the universe or your higher power for everything you accomplish will leave you appreciating what you may have found mundane at the time.
There are people out there who would love to have your job, and there are people who would love to have your experiences.
Why can’t you be one of those people?
Sure, maybe you get jealous of others sometimes. (We are all guilty of this.)
But when you give thanks, you realize just how much you already have.
So, the next time you are working for several hours on one PowerPoint slide or are waiting in an incredulously long TSA line, just whisper a small “thanks” to the moment.
This is not only an article for recent college graduates.
It is for anyone who is just not feeling satisfied with the life he or she is leading now.
I enjoy using the word “leading” because it reminds me that I’m the one calling the shots here now.
There is no longer a precut road to follow.
Hell, cheers to the road that lets me binge-watch shows on Wednesday nights, go to new countries on Friday evenings and have big cups of coffee in the office on Monday mornings.