Once university draws to a close, you’re left with a whole load of emotions, good and bad, regarding what you’ve achieved, and what comes next.
You aren’t alone, despite feeling like you are. You can often feel lost because there is no one telling you what to do (sort of) and you feel purposeless.
No teachers, no form tutor, and no head of school that will be on your case if your attendance drops below 60%.
Once you get your first job, and finally have a ‘purpose’ of sorts, you’re left with all this free time in evenings and weekends (compared to university, where evenings and weekends were just more hours for you to procrastinate away). Getting home and plonking yourself in front of the TV for a few hours, and then sloping off to bed isn’t exactly the most rewarding or stimulating way to live your life outside of work. Don’t worry — most of us do it, and probably more than we should. But if you’re reading this, you clearly need or want more from your free time.
Luckily, Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau has 9 hobbies for recent graduates to stimulate your brain, and leave you feeling accomplished outside of the office.
Learning a new (or old) language
Are you jealous of friends and family who have managed to master another language? Surely you would like to be able to ask directions or order food when you next pop over to mainland Europe? If you can dedicate the time, and you actually want to learn, turn your free time to learning or re-learning a language. Language skills can and will be extremely useful for the future, but do require time and commitment; little and often is the key, so 30 minutes each evening is a great starting point.
Picking up a new skill
DIY is always going to be useful; rather than calling your parents or landlord for help, maybe try teaching yourself to be self-proficient? Have you ever bled a radiator? Put up some shelves? There are plenty of tutorials online, you just need to start looking.
If tech’s your thing, or you never gave it much of a chance, how about trying to learn a new software program? Even if it’s not relevant to your current job or career path, it might be in the future. For example, how are your Excel skills? Spreadsheets are incredibly useful for most office jobs, even on the most basic scale. Further to software, why not teach yourself a new programming language? Adding another skill to your repertoire can reap numerous benefits.
Joining an exercise class/team sport
If you’re already a member of the gym, but it’s not working out (see what we did there?), check out the class schedules instead of trying to go it alone. The fixed structure of a class means you’ll be forced to go at a certain time, therefore implementing exercise and socialising (kind of) into your daily/weekly routine. If you can find a gym/class buddy to go with you, it will make it both easier to go, and harder to cancel. Still not working? How about signing up for a charity run? You’ll be motivated by the fixed date, you’ll be doing it for a good cause, and will have the ‘pressure’ of donations to spur you on and get training.
Getting a qualification (online degree/course)
Further to picking up a new skill, you could implement learning new things into a full course/qualification. There must be a subject at school you wish you’d done, or a field of study you’re curious about. This will look even better on your CV, especially if the qualification is provided by a recognised body. Try E-learning sites like Open University, Udacity, Cousera, or W3 Schools. There are plenty of places to choose from, so you’ll surely find something that interests you.
If there’s something you’re enthusiastic about, write about it. You can start a blog, or contribute to an existing blog — most will be open to new help, but it’s unlikely you’ll get any money. You don’t even have to write for pleasure, you could write to help others or simply inform them. Have you tried answering questions on Quora, for example? There is a topic out there for everyone, and a great sense of fulfilment if someone finds your answer helpful.
If you’re the creative type, you’re probably desperate for an outlet, but too tired from work to even begin the creative process. But it does help; you just need to get over the various obstacles you’ve created in your head, such as tiredness, or that Corrie’s on. Why not try and create something, be it just for decoration, or something a little more practical. For example, a cushion cover from some fabric you found in Greece that time, or a ‘life hack’ project you found on Pinterest.
Sell your gift
After a little extra cash, or just eager to try something new? Why not turn a hobby or skill into a business venture. You can sell your handmade crafts (point 6) on sites like Etsy. Or if you can spare the time, you could try your hand at freelancing, such as web design, translating services, or even transcribing.
A passion project
It’s always been at the back of your mind; that niggly idea that you’ve never actually gotten around to doing. Be it finally recording that song you wrote, or that cover you’ve been playing with, and uploading it to SoundCloud. Maybe you’ve been playing with the idea of getting back into photography, and want to get your portfolio sorted. If you dig deep enough, there will be something you’re passionate about that could turn into the most exciting post-work activity.
If you’re an animal lover, why not volunteer at a local animal shelter? Theatre or film fan? Contact your local independent venue and see if they need an extra pair of hands. You shouldn’t necessarily get involved just for the perks, but there are some available, such as first dibs on new charity clothes, or show tickets. If there’s something, or someone you care for, use your free time to do some good. The world needs more people like you.
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