When you’re in college, your life has both direction and variety. You’re working toward that final goal of graduation day, as well as the career that will follow.
Along the way, you have lots of things to keep your life interesting. College campuses are overflowing with events, talks, and performances. There’s a club or organization for just about anything you can imagine. And that’s not to mention that hanging out with friends requires little more than a couple of texts or just a walk to the dorm common area.
Once you’re out of college, however, things change. After the excitement of starting a new job or moving to a new city fades, you may find yourself stuck in the same routine. You go to work, go home, make dinner, watch TV, and repeat.
If you’re not careful, your life can become dull and monotonous. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In this article, we’ll draw on our experience to explore how you can keep your life varied and interesting after graduation. This way, you won’t wake up twenty years from now and think, in the words of Dr. Dog, “Where’d all the time go?”
“Life is long if you know how to use it” – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
I can’t tell you how to live a fulfilling life. That’s a vast question that has puzzled philosophers for ages. Moreover, what makes one person feel fulfilled may be dull for another.
Therefore, don’t take the following list as the “definitive” answer. These ideas are merely starting points for crafting a purposeful, directed life.
Having a regular group meeting to attend helps give your life some direction, as well as something to look forward to. Such clubs and organizations are built into the fabric of college life, but they exist beyond university campuses as well.
There are likely local organizations devoted to your interests, and they’d love to have you as a member. All you have to do is find the groups you want to join and then show up to a meeting.
To find a local group related to your interests, I recommend three main methods:
- Meetup.com – I’ve mentioned this site many times before on this blog, but that’s because it remains one of the largest databases of local groups. If you’re interested in something, Meetup probably has a group for it.
- Google – Not finding what you seek within Meetup? Broaden your search to Google. Just search “thing you’re interested in” + “name of your city”.
- Coffee shop bulletin boards – I know this sounds a bit old-fashioned, but local groups still post flyers on the public bulletin boards in local cafés. So the next time you’re waiting for your latte, browse the board for groups related to your interests.
Travel might well be the ultimate antidote to monotony. After all, travel inherently shakes you out of your routine, thus making you feel more alive.
While it’s fun to visit far-off places, you don’t have to go great distances or spend lots of money to get the benefits of travel.
To start, you could travel to a nearby town, exploring the region around you. Depending on where you live, this could entail taking a train, a bus, or a good old-fashioned road trip.
Don’t want to leave town? Try being a tourist in your own city! This can be as simple as visiting that museum or taking that tour you’ve always meant to. If you go on the right day, many local attractions are even free.
If you want to shake things up a bit more, consider a staycation. Get an Airbnb or hostel bed in a part of town that you don’t spend a lot of time in. You’ll be surprised how exciting life can be when you view your city with fresh eyes.
What are you currently working on outside of your job? Do you have something in your life that gives you a sense of progress?
If not, then you should find a project. A “project” can be anything from a hobby to a literal project around your house to a volunteer effort in your community. The goal is to have something you can make measurable progress on, while also being challenged in the process.
Possible projects are infinite, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Learning a new song on an instrument you play
- Documenting street art in your area
- Writing a book or essay
- Learning to cook a new dish or cuisine
Finally, note that projects don’t have to be solo. You can also collaborate with another person or organization to accomplish a goal. For help starting your next project, check out this guide.
Keep Challenging Yourself
When I find my life is feeling monotonous, it’s often because I’m not challenging myself. And without challenge, it’s easy to become complacent.
If you feel the same, the solution is to inject some challenge into your life. Each person’s definition of “challenge” will be different, but the point is to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you grow.
Often, the easiest way to find a challenge is to either tackle a new project or reach for a higher level at something you already do.
Here are some examples:
- Language learning – Try reading a book that’s a bit beyond your current level, or aim to have more complex conversations than you currently do.
- Fitness – See if you can set a new PR. Or, add some challenge to your current workout routine with a heavier weight, a greater distance, a faster time, etc. (As always, be safe and don’t do anything that could lead to injury).
- Cooking – If you’re comfortable cooking meals for yourself, host a dinner party where you have to cook for multiple people and entertain at the same time.
Minimize Your Consumption of Passive Entertainment
We all have days where the only thing we want to do is veg on the couch and watch endless TV episodes or YouTube videos.
While there’s nothing wrong with this every once in a while, life will feel rather monotonous if TV is your only form of entertainment. The flickering images are fun at first, but staring too long into the glowing box will ultimately leave you feeling empty.
Instead, cultivate active forms of recreation. Do things that engage your mind, body, or ideally both.
What you do for entertainment is a personal choice. But here are some forms of recreation and entertainment that are far more engaging than television:
- Watch a live performance, concert, or event
- Play an instrument, which engages both your body and mind
- Play video games (it’s still screen time, but it’s far more active than watching TV)
- Read a book
- Meet a friend for coffee or drinks
- Play a board game or cards with friends
Don’t Stop Learning
Self-education is one of the best ways I know to stay excited about life. When you’re constantly learning new things, it’s hard to get bored.
In college, you have lots of opportunities to learn. These include classes, conversations with classmates, and the endless stream of lectures and presentations around campus. Not to mention, you have access to a massive library system with information on any topic you could imagine.
After graduation, however, you have to be more intentional if you want to keep learning. Fortunately, you still have lots of resources available to you. Here are some of our favorite places to learn new things:
- YouTube – Not everything on YouTube is high-quality or accurate, but you can still learn a lot from the right resources. Check out our favorite educational YouTube channels to get started.
- Skillshare – If you’re looking for structured courses taught by experts, then check out Skillshare. It’s our go-to resource for learning specific skills ranging from graphic design to music production. If you want to learn it, Skillshare probably has a course on it.
- Your local library – While it may not be as extensive as your university library, your local library system is still an invaluable resource. There, you’ll find books, audiobooks, and maybe even free passes to local museums and attractions.
Keep a Schedule
A schedule may seem like a recipe for monotony. Carefully crafted, however, a schedule can be monotony’s antidote.
A schedule can help you put into practice all the activities we’ve discussed so far. You can schedule:
- Time for learning, projects, and hobbies
- Activities that challenge you
- Events and club meetings
Without a schedule, you risk defaulting to the path of least resistance. And that’s typically a pretty monotonous path.
For more on making a schedule, check out our guide to efficient calendar use.
If you just sit in your house or apartment all day (especially in your free time), then your surroundings lack variety. This lack of variety is bound to lead to monotony and boredom sooner or later.
But when you go outside and see the world, you snap out of this. The fresh air, movement, sunlight, and sight of other people reconnect you to the world. And in doing so, you’ll feel much more alive.
Note: This technique works best if you ditch the headphones/earbuds and put your phone in airplane mode. Going outside while remaining plugged into the same digital media offers much less of an escape from monotony.
“Now is the envy of all of the dead” – Don Hertzfeldt, World of Tomorrow
I hope this article has given you some ideas for dealing with the feeling of monotony that can arise after you’ve graduated college. Most importantly of all, you must be intentional about how you live your life. As long as you do that, you’ll be on the right path to keeping things interesting.
Image Credits: bench with leaves