When Work Hard/Play Hard Stops Working

At 27 years old, my days of college parties and dancing ‘til dawn feel like a distant memory.  While I find myself fondly reminiscing over my college days with occasional pains of nostalgia, I’m not interested in reliving them in my mid-twenties. I no longer have the energy, motivation, or interest to devote my days to hard work and my nights to endless adventures and little sleep.  Therefore, seeking work/life balance has been a reoccurring theme of my mid-twenties.

While I can’t say that I (or probably any other 20-something) have perfected the art of work/life balance, here are my suggestions for making the transition to post-college life a bit easier.

  • Get enough sunshine. As a new professional, chances are you won’t be sitting in a corner office with live plants and windows that open.  Schedule time to get outside and soak up some vitamin D to help keep your sleep regular and your energy up!
  • Be active. After transitioning from the work hard/play hard mentality of college to the work hand and then work some more mentality of graduate school, I thought a 9-5 schedule would be a breeze. Turns out it’s exhausting to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. Make a conscious effort to be active: join a gym, sign up for a running group, or even just walk on your lunch break. Trust me, it makes a huge difference in your happiness and energy levels.
  • Get enough sleep. This might mean heading to bed before midnight. If you’re used to being a night owl and you have a traditional 9-5 job, resetting your sleep schedule will be crucial to your work/life balance.
  • Engage your mind. At first, the prospect of no more classes will be a wonderful relief, but eventually you will start to get bored with the day-to-day monotony that is being a “working adult.” Encourage active learning by reading, taking a course for fun, or even doing crosswords to help keep your brain happy.
  • Be social. As an introvert, when all of my college friends departed ways across the globe, it was easy to fall into new friendships with my couch, Ben & Jerry’s, and whatever was trending on Netflix. While it can be hard to make friends post-college it’s not impossible. Look for meet up groups, join a local sport, and maintain old friendships through technology.
  • Build or renew hobbies. During college, I remember being asked what my hobbies were and thinking to myself “who has time for hobbies?” Chances are, now you do! So renew a passion for photography or take up an activity you’ve never tried before. Focus on building your interests for fun. This will help you build your own happiness and feel like you’re finding yourself, rather than losing yourself in the lack of direction that is post-college life.

While a lot of these may seem like common sense, they are important habits that may have been thrown to the way-side during college. Additionally most don’t cost much (if anything) to implement, but they will have huge benefits on your happiness levels.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt