What matters? Finding the balance and being happy in most of what you do! As you will spend a large percentage of your life working, you have to be happy with your job choice. You also need to make sure you are happy with what you do when not working and even that requires some thinking and planning.
Let's take this in simple steps.
- Be successful at work. Treat your job very, very seriously. Don't worry at the outset about career or income growth. Just be successful. Listen and learn and try to make a positive impact on those around you.
- Don't worry too much about your short term accommodations. Find a place that doesn't put a burden on your work success. Many people choose longer commutes, but that puts a burden on you while you are starting out. What matters initially is all about ensuring you can focus on your job.
- Then determine where to live to balance your social life with your work needs. OK - the first hard choice. Do you want to go out every night with friends or on weekends? What activities are important to you outside of work? Questions like this will influence where you choose to live. Maybe that longer commute is ok for you once you are established at work.
- Enjoy life. You are too young to dedicate yourself fully to money and a career. As you'll likely be working for the next thirty to forty years or more, don't become that workaholic. Talking out of both sides of my mouth, see #1 above. But please find that balance to ensure you are happy.
Many of you might drift away from your parents as those college days move into the past and you take this opportunity to figure out what makes you happy with your friends, relationships and your family. (Please don't cross family off your list, btw. You should never lose this important connection—trust me).
Once you are settled in, it might be time to take a look back and see if you are on the right career path. Are you happy? Ask your management if they see you growing. Always keep career thoughts simmering on the back burner (it is never turned off) and recognize when it is time to turn up the heat on a promotional or new work opportunity.
And if you need to relocate for work, plan to start a different set of decisions. It will get harder as the life part of work-life grows in importance. No one said it would be easy. But it is all worth it.
(And apologies for the poorly drawn map. It was the best I could do. I hope it made you smile.)