Failure To Launch: 8 Ways To Stay Motivated, Not Stunted, During Your First Job

by Jackie Thomas

Recent graduates are facing the paralyzing fear that their lives are destined to be ordinary for at least the next couple of years. How do I know this? Well, I'm smack-dab in the middle of this realization.

Like many friends, I've graduated with an immense amount of energy, excitement and motivation to fulfill my dreams and chase after them with more steam than I ever showed on my middle school track team.

However, the bleak reality is that I'm going to be at a desk job for at least the next year or two before I can climb the ladder. I’m still not sure where that ladder leads, but every real person seems to be climbing it, so I might as well join, too.

Now's the opportunity to get my feet on the ground and save money since, as appealing as it sounds, I don't plan on living with my parents forever. However, with moving home and getting a "big girl" job comes the fear that I will get a little too comfortable.

And by comfortable, I mean Matthew McConaughey’s 35-year-old character in “Failure to Launch,” who still lived with his parents comfortable.

Recent grads, I get it: You're making money. You have time for friends when everyone's schedule permits. You've got a roof over your head and Mom's really good at stocking the fridge. You're content, but why settle for "content"?

The notion that we are spending most of our lives working should push us to do what we love.

As I'm starting to stick my toes in the large pond that is the real world, I don't want my enthusiasm for my career to fade. I don't want my love to diminish or be a fond, yet unrealistic and naive pastime.

Why settle for “just okay” when you're able to achieve more? I'm a firm believer that your twenties are a time for learning, growth and finding your place in the world.

That place probably isn't the first spot you find; it might not even be the second or third. But, as long as you keep your goals in mind, there's no reason why you should settle for a life subpar to the one about which you dream during your undergraduate years.

Here are some surefire ways to keep your youthful motivation alive and build on your current job, as opposed to settling in:

Find A “Young Person Routine”

Yes, you might have to give up going to the bar on a Tuesday night, but that doesn't mean you're doomed to be a social pariah. Find a new routine. Join a gym, plan dinner after work or read your favorite book.

This helps to fill time between the monotonous day jobs.

Try something new, like kickboxing or a painting class to provide you with something to which you can look forward after work!

Catch Up On Life

Figure out a way to budget so you can save money for a new car AND go out with your friends. If you do this now, when you eventually (and hopefully) move out, you'll already be ahead of the game and will stress way less.

“Work Hard, Play Hard” Still Applies

You can still have fun, just keep it somewhat sober during weekdays. As long as you’re busting your butt in the office, you 100 percent should go for that fourth tequila shot on Saturday night. The beautiful thing about 9-to-5 jobs is that you're always free on weekends.

Start deciding which friends you will grace with your presence.

Launch Crazy, Awesome Hobbies

When I said your 20s are about learning, it also includes learning about yourself. Finding new hobbies will not only lead you to become more interesting, but also help you shape your sense of self.

College is very much a collective experience, but when everyone breaks off to forge new paths in the real world, we have more time focus on ourselves. So, try something new.


Even if you hate your job, NETWORK. Meeting people now may pay you dividends 1o years down the line. It is truly a (painfully) small world, after all.

Make Your Passion A Hobby

You’re not your own multi-million-dollar media manager, yet. So what? Until you can make money from your passion, incorporate your aspirations into your hobbies.

For example, if you are a writer, try to blog or find a publication to which you can contribute your sarcastic, sassy writing samples.

This is an easy way to showcase your passion for your field to potential employers, which is productive, even if you're not getting paid.

Actively Search For Jobs

Yes, you're saving money, but as someone in my office said, “You never know what opportunity you could be missing out on.”

As grueling and agonizing as rejection can be, keep applying to jobs. There's no shame in trying.

Don't Get Down

It's hard, especially when people around you are going to graduate school or taking a year off to travel. These circumstances may leave you with a lot of free time and not so many friends available to hang with you.

Try to plan a monthly dinner or a night out. People will bail or be busy, but your efforts will work with someone's schedule.

Don't lose your friends, just understand they’re also navigating a tough time and be as flexible as possible. Eventually, we all end up in the same place, anyway.

I promise that you don't have to be in your first 9-to-5 job forever. Remember that nothing in the world can stop you from becoming (insert dream career here).

Never lose that feeling; let that feeling fuel your passion.

Photo Courtesy: Fanpop