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May 28, 2021


Possibilities & Plans: Help a New Graduate Discover What’s Next

“A grand adventure is about to begin.” —A. A. Milne

Graduation is more than caps and gowns, inspirational speeches, and ceremonial processions. It’s a new beginning—an opportunity to take the countless lessons a new graduate has gathered and build a life of their own creation. With all the uncertainties of our world right now, the class of 2021 is facing a particularly unique start to their journey, which makes the reassuring support of loved ones even more important.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, or mentor, there are lots of ways you can give encouragement and inspiration to a new grad as they explore what’s next. We’ve put together a few reflective exercises perfect for this season of transition. Share them with a new graduate to complete on their own, or explore them together to create a time of bonding and building.

Define Personal Values

So often new graduates are inundated with conversations about crafting strong résumés, submitting job applications, and finding the right career. But discovering fulfillment often begins with being present to personal values and finding work that aligns. Encourage a graduate to write down values that matter most to them. Being guided by values can bring immense meaning and purpose to life’s everyday decisions.

Write a Mission Statement

Whether making a choice about where to work, live, or volunteer your time, a personal mission statement can be like a compass, pointing toward your true north. Suggest that your new grad write down a sentence or two about a life goal, a dream, or a cause they want to influence. Watch how these simple words add confidence to each step they take.

Create a Vision Board

Over the last year, members of the class of 2021 have been grappling with the parts of their school experience that could not happen. Invite your grad to create a visual reminder of what is possible. Make a vision board filled with quotes, travel destinations, photos of inspiring people, or motivating excerpts from magazine articles. Vision boards are a great way to get clear on short-term and long-term goals, which is the first step to making them come true.

Confront Fears

Even with ample preparation, beginning a new season of life comes with its own set of fears and trepidations. Instead of running from the fear, encourage a new grad to get up close and personal with it—to see and understand it more clearly. Often times, fear is the voice of our inner critic trying to protect us from failure and rejection. Have your graduate write down the most repeated words of their inner critic. Then have them write down something they want their inner critic to know, something about their strengths and capabilities. Our fears and hesitations have just as much to teach us as our passions.

We hope these activities offer opportunities for new graduates (and you!) to define and embrace the elements of a full and fulfilling life—and discover momentum to begin creating it. Find activity books and gifts for new grads here.

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