Life moves fast. It’s hard to understand it when a parent says: “Before you know it, you won’t be 16 anymore. You’ll be out on your own, raising your kids, having your own life.” Kids brush it off, saying they’ve got time. We’ve all been there.

But then, only a couple years later, we realize that life does move fast. And suddenly we’re about to graduate from college and lose our ability to do absolutely nothing on Sundays and the precious naps during the middle of the day. The “real world” is about to happen.

That doesn’t mean that there’s a reason to panic. Everyone goes through the same process – graduating school, finding a job, finding a home, and everything in between. As the old saying goes, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Although this has been slightly overused and changed to fit nearly everything, it still rings true. There is nothing worse you can do for yourself than overreact and freak out.

Rule #1: Stay calm. In the grand scheme of things, that sounds pretty easy, but it makes a huge impact. The calmer you are, the easier it will be for you to make good decisions.

Rule #2: You can never start too early. So maybe now it’s only three months until you graduate and you put off looking for jobs because you didn’t want to admit that you were leaving college, but it’s time to buckle down. The job searching process is long, longer than you’ll expect, so beginning as soon as you possibly can never hurts.

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Rule #3: Understand you might have to leave the city you’ve learned to love so much. Finding the perfect city will not happen overnight nor will finding the perfect job. Things take time. And perhaps you’ll have to move to a city where you don’t know anyone but don’t worry about that just yet. Take things one step at a time.

Rule #4: Dreams change, so don’t force anything. The dreams you had when you’re five years old are much different than the dreams you had on your 18th birthday, which are different than the dreams you’ll have at 25. You may find a job right after college, but don’t settle for the first thing that comes around. Don’t try to force things; be open to your dreams changing.

No one is ever ready to become a “real adult” and even those considered adults aren’t quite sure what they’re doing yet. But understanding these things helps makes the transition from college to the “real world” a bit easier.

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about where you’ll be living or who will be there to guide you through it. But the focus should be set on exactly what you’re going to be doing. And as the old adage goes, “Do what you love and the rest will fall into place.”

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