Things I wished I knew after Graduating from University, Part 2

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photo credit: eflon via photopin cc

Last week, I wrote a post on a few things I have learned since starting my first full-time job.  Read it here.

Even with almost 3 years of life experience under my belt, I am still constantly learning on the job,  I hope I never stop learning.  I hope you never do too.

Everyone is stumbling along, just as you are

Some may be further along in their journey; others are just starting out like you are. Some may see their job as a means to an end, using their job to fund their extracurricular activities. Others rather chase their dream job and trust that finances will flow on as a result. There is no one formula that will suit everyone. Each is on a journey, making mistakes and changing their minds along the way.

Seek out friendships at work

It is harder to make lasting friendships after university simply because you spend less time with one another, you are more cautious and you have busy schedules which limits your time. When you meet that workmate you instantly click with, even tedious projects become fun. Seek out friendships that make your work life enjoyable.

Toughen up without losing the purity and freshness of a graduate

The corporate environment can be tough. Workplace conflicts are almost inevitable. It will teach you how to navigate interpersonal relationships and deal with that passive aggressive workmate. Try not to let it corrupt the freshness of your youth. The world is still your oyster.

You have the power to shape your job, but be careful not to strive

Your job is not contained to your job description. If you have more capacity than what it entails, shadow someone in a different team or ask to be involved in other projects. You alone can own your career development, no one else can. Find the balance between coasting and striving.

At some point you will ask yourself, “Is this something I want to do for the rest of my life?”

If the answer is no, that’s okay. Read books. Talk to others further in life than you are. Talk to people whose jobs you think are interesting. In this post-industrial age, most people won’t stay in the same job for more than 3 years, unlike our parents and grandparents. According to Forbes, Millennials will hold 15-20 jobs over their lifetime. Let’s hope that by your 3rd or 4th job you have a better picture of what you want.

Don’t be afraid to steer your career in a different direction

You don’t have to work in the same field as what you studied in university. You may be surprised, but employers value university graduates because of their logical thought process and attitudes rather than their technical skills. Time spent in university will never go to waste either. Be practical but be ready to quit when the time is up.

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Things I wish I knew after Graduating from University, Part 1

Sister's Graduation photo

Sister’s Graduation photo

My first year of full time work was a breeze. I landed a job in my top company of choice. As a fresh graduate, I dived in head first, eager to prove myself and make a difference in the world.

Soon the reality of working life caught up with me and left me disillusioned. Workplace conflicts. Unmet expectations. Feeling that my work didn’t matter.

Having open and honest conversations helped me move forward in my disillusionment. Over time through conversations and books, I realised that I had a warped view of what work life was meant to look like. Knowing these things could have softened my transition from study to work life.

Don’t be in a hurry to change the world

Companies hire you to first make money, whether it is in the form of generating sales or reducing costs. Once you have proven your ability to generate profit, you will naturally earn the power to make decisions that can make a difference in the world.

Take risks

One of the best things about being fresh out of university is that you have nothing to tie you down, no mortgage, no partner, no kids. It’s a great time to take risks because you have nothing to lose. Join a start-up. Take three months off to go and travel. Run marathons. Do an internship at your local church.

Hard work and connections make a killer combo

Hard work alone does not sell itself. Good connections with people of influence combined with excellence in your job will enable your reputation to travel by mouth. Rather than talk yourself up, allow others sell your talents by helping them and doing a good job in the process.

Your first job will not likely be what you imagined work life to be

Instead, your first job will help you find out what you dislike and you can use that to narrow the scope down to what you enjoy. Finding a job that you love is a journey that takes time, so enjoy the journey while you are at it.

Embrace mundane, routine work

Routine work is unavoidable. Use this as a chance to take a breather from stressful periods. Be grateful for a job that provides.  When you are constantly under the pump to produce results, you will come to relish the times when all you had to do was menial tasks.

You are more than your job title or description

Your job title does not define you anymore than your name does. You have hobbies, passions and a personality that is greater than your job description. Your job only makes up a small part of who you are. Even Solomon found that his work was not able to fulfil him in the end. Place your identity in God and not in your work.

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5 signs You are Ready to Pursue your Dream

sunnytaupo

Photo of sunny Lake Taupo by me

You have a dream.  This dream has been brewing in your heart.  You are finally ready to step out and make it a reality.  But are you really ready?  Here are 5 signs that you are ready to turn your dream into a reality.

You have a strong motive behind your dream.  That motive is not fame or wealth.

Perhaps you want your family to live a comfortable life, so you hustle at work all day.  Your motive is the security of your family.  Maybe you genuinely want to see the community changed for the better.  Or you just simply enjoy your craft and want to share it with others.  Is it self-driven or people-driven?  Fame and wealth are a byproduct of success, but should never be the driver of your dream.

You are ready for the public to see your work.

You have done the hard-yards and your research.  You know what is needed of you in order to succeed.  You are not waiting to go viral and be an overnight success.  You are not ashamed first and foremost, to show your friends and family your work, because you are genuine and honest in your intentions.  With that…

You have braced yourself for opposition.

A backhanded compliment.  An unintentional comment that stings.  You are ready for opposition if it comes, because you have erected a wall around your dream to deflect it and you have vowed to fiercely protect your dream.  Opposition [Read] comes when change happens.  Change ruffles other peoples feathers.  Change forces others out of their comfort zones.  And the real truth? No one likes being reminded of their unrealised dreams.

You are in it for the long haul.

You have the focus of a gold medalist champion.  You know that chasing your dream is not an easy road.  You know that you have to first learn to earn the trust of others and that this takes time.  You understand that any reader/ listener/ spectator of your work is a gift, not a given.

You are willing to take one small step today towards living your dream.

In the age of digital media, it is so easy these days to be an entrepreneur or pioneer something new.  Blogs and websites cost almost nothing to setup.  Websites like Kickstarter enable crowd funding internationally.  All it takes is your willingness to invest time and energy into it.  Once you start, the more you do it, the more you get to practice and the better you get at it.  Will you start today?

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What marriage looks like in your early 20s

Wedding photo taken by Danelle Bohane.

Wedding photo taken by Danelle Bohane

Marriage in your early twenties is not for everyone, but if it is something that you are considering, here is a little snapshot of what life may look like.

Pre-marriage

  1. After your husband-to-be posts your “She said yes!” photo on Facebook, you get all kinds of congratulations messages coupled with exclamations of how shocked they are at your engagement.
  1. A few months and even years into your marriage, you still get acquaintances telling you how shocked they were when they first saw your engagement on Facebook.
  1. One workmate directly asks if you are pregnant. Another workmate wonders out loud if you are a Christian. They then start half-joking about how you are making the worst mistake in your life.
  1. You are conflicted as to how much to spend on a wedding dress because you know you can’t justify spending $3000 plus for a dress, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
  1. You politely ask for cash gifts instead of a wedding registry because you don’t own a home and have nowhere to place your new household gifts in your new rental.
  1. You start planning your wedding and realize that you have no idea what you want for your wedding because you never had the experience the planning of other weddings, nor did you think you were going to get married this soon.

Post-marriage

  1. You notice that none of your existing friends are married yet and you proceed to start befriending other married couples.
  1. You do the rounds of inviting all your friends over for dinner at your new home, because well, that is what married couples do.
  1. Everyone who comes over asks if you own the house that you are living at. You flat out deny that, because you could not have afforded a wedding, a honeymoon and a house all at one go with your meager salary.
  1. Your friends ask you if you are going to have babies soon. About a year into your marriage, your mom hints that she has been getting questions about whether she is going to be a grandmother soon. You tell her and your friends no.
  1. In the first year of marriage, you don’t get to save a lot of money, because you end up spending more money going on road trips and holidays.
  1. Your first time being part of a bridal party you are the matron-of-honor, and you realise how old that makes you sound.
  1. When someone has to guess your age, they guess that you are at least 5 years older than your actual age just because you told them that you are married. Other times you tell someone you just met that you are married, and they say, “ Wow, you look so young!” You wonder what that is supposed to mean.
  1. You find yourself spending all of your Friday or Saturday night ironing your husband’s clothes and chuckle at how life has changed since you got married.
  1. You are in bed snuggling with your husband who is fast asleep and think to yourself what a good catch he is. You still get mushy with love sometimes but it’s a different love to when you are dating as this is a deep bond that is irreversible, a commitment that the two of you have vowed to make last.
  1. There are nights where you have fought and are unable to sleep all night. You wish the bed would just split in two, as you cannot even stand touching his leg hair. You consider sleeping on the floor.
  1. There are dramatic moments and dull moments in your marriage, but you ride each wave as it comes and goes and learn to be grateful that you are building memories of a lifetime together.
  1. There are seasons where you play the role of his biggest cheerleader in seeing him realise his dream; other times he does the house chores so that you can chase yours. The most important thing is that you learn to be each other’s biggest support, no matter what may come and go.
  1. He challenges your limited perspective and bad habits; you sulk and react by throwing tantrums like a child. He is patient in telling you off for doing so and tells you that he loves you. You finally come to the realisation that what he said was true and you start crying because you had a sudden epiphany that you are a horrible person to live with. You are so fortunate that someone even wanted to marry you.
  1. All in all, despite all the other uncertainties that you have in your life, you are glad that you have one thing that is constant and you know that this is no doubt one of the best decisions you have made in your life thus far.
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4 Attitudes that helped lead me down the Path of Marriage

Photo by danellebohane.com for my wedding

Photo by danellebohane.com for my wedding

1.  I had to decide early on what I wanted in life.

At one point before I decided to seriously date my husband, I got so paralysed by the weight of the decision that I had to spend some time reflecting on what I really wanted in life.  The choice of your spouse is a hefty decision, it will impact where you live in the future, how you spend your christmases and basically every aspect of your life.  It is true that it is better to be single than to marry the wrong person.  Do you know what kind of life you want to live?

2.  I chose to compromise on things that didn’t matter in the long run.

In all marriages, there will be some sort of compromise that you will have to make, simply because all of us are flawed human beings.  What will you choose to compromise on?  Is he shorter than your expected dreamy hunk of 180cm, but has great leadership qualities?  Is he quiet when you only wanted to date extroverts, but is able to speak up with depth when it is expected of him?  In other words, I chose to stand firm on my non-negotiables such as character and similarities in life values, but learned to let go of other unrealistic & selfish expectations.  Are you willing to make compromises?

3.  I had a good support network that walked me through those big decisions.

My parents and sister played a big part in my decision of my future spouse.  While I am fortunate to have a loving and supportive family, many don’t, so seek out people around you who have walked their relationship journey well and ask for wise counsel.  I still hold on to one piece of advice that my mom gave me at the time: life is simple but it is humans that over-complicate it, by wanting this and that that are not important, so learn to live a simple life.  Do you have a confidant that can also be good counsel?

4.  I was over playing the dating field.

By the time I broke up with my first boyfriend (who then went on to be my husband) I knew I didn’t want to just date for fun.  My next relationship would be my husband – so I only got into a relationship if I could see myself married to him.  Is he husband material?

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5 things Social Media taught me about giving

Photo from engagement shoot.

Photo by danellebohane.com from my engagement shoot.

“I’ll be frank, I want more likes.”

“Man I can’t believe that I got 200 likes!”

If you have heard or made a statement like this, you can be sure that you are not alone. These were actual statements made by two of my friends who are between the ages of 18 and 25. The desire to be liked resonates with so many, social media users and non-users alike. I mean, as shallow as it may sound, who doesn’t want to be admired and liked by others?

For the last few years I have been on a journey of discovery on social media. There were times when I wanted to quit and times where it gave me much joy. Surprisingly one of my biggest lessons from social media is in the area of giving. Here are 5 things that social media, in particular Instagram and Facebook, has taught me about giving.

  1. Give, without expecting anything in return.

Have you heard of the like for a like phenomenon? On Instagram, this is where you trade likes. You will like his photo if he likes yours in return. The problem with this mentality is that you are dependent on another’s action. You are surrendering the control of your emotions to someone else.

It is so easy to fall into this trap of giving and taking. You want to give, but only if you can get something from the other person. This is such a tiring way to live. Let me tell you a secret to happiness: be generous and don’t expect anything of others.

  1. Be intentional about giving.

Social media enables us to so easily consume photos without even thinking of giving back. When I am looking to fill time, I find myself scrolling through photos in an instant and soon I am at the end of my news feed. Now I choose to be intentional about giving back to those that have spent the time creating.

  1. Give praise where praise is due.

When a photo or content has been crafted well, I show my appreciation. I want to be an encourager to those that deserve it. Be someone who acknowledges the effort gone into a well-thought-out post.

  1. A simple act of giving can make someone’s day.

I know that when a friend likes my photo, I feel the love from her. Choosing a simple gesture of double-tapping an instagram photo can instantly brighten up someone’s day. Why don’t we all do it more often?

  1. It is better to give than to receive.

This must be true because both psychologists and the bible say so. Giving lifts the focus off self and channels it to others. It enlarges our world. I cannot be more certain of this. Give it a go. You might surprise yourself at how good you feel in the end.

While I chose social media as a focus, these principles of giving are all-encompassing and apply to other areas of life.

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