Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's the worst that could happen?

I have posted some doom and gloom here before, but I am not going to do that today. I'm going to ask you one question to make yourself feel terrible, think about it and then fix it: if you don't have a job once you graduate, what is the worst that could happen?

Not that you are unemployed. That is the experience of many and will happen more than once in your lifetime. Think: Will you not be able to pay your rent? Will you lose your car? Will you not be able to pay your line of credit, student loans, credit cards? Will you not be able to eat? What is the worst that could happen?

Once you know the answer to that question, take some steps to fix that problem, right now.

If the worst that could happen is you will lose your place to live, what can you do to stop that, right now? Can you have the discussion with your parents or a sibling about moving in with them? Can you get a roommate? Though the cost of moving might eat up some of what you will save on moving to a cheaper place, can you find less expensive housing? Some of you may lose your place to live once you move out of campus housing, so what steps are you taking to deal with this issue?

Now, once you have some ideas, who can you talk to about fixing that problem. Open up the discussion about the basement bedroom with your parents. Get the forms for remission on your student loan or interest free status, now, fill them out and put them in an envelope ready to be mailed or processed. Use the services on your campus in regards to debt repayment, budgeting, or talk with someone at your bank--just pick up the brochures--that give you the information you need to deal with the problem. Don't freak out during finals about where you will be sleeping in a few weeks. Take care of it now.

If you can fix the worst of your problems, you will have time to invest toward your other problems and your job search, not to mention less aggravation for your grad school induced ulcer. Dealing successfully with one problem gives us a boost in optimism, a belief in our own self-efficacy and a feeling of relief. All of those can help your mental outlook.

If you want to feel optimistic or prepared, take hold of some of the problems in your life, which you directly control, like where you will live, sleep, eat and pay, and come up with an actionable plan, or solve them entirely.

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