8 College Habits You Need to Let Go of In Your Professional Life

If you’ve just finished college and are about to enter the “real world,” your lifestyle is about to take a 180-degree turn.

Long gone are the days where your wardrobe consisted primarily of sweatpants, your first obligation of the day was your 1:30 p.m. class, and you had all the time in the world to Netflix religiously.

If you’re about to start your professional life, prepare for early mornings, business attire and less free time than you’re used to. So, as you make the switch from undergrad to new hire, there are some lifestyle changes you’ll need to make to be successful. If you’re not sure where to start, here are 8 habits from your college life that you need to kick.


1. Over-Sharing on Social Media

As a twenty-something, being involved in social media is nothing out of the ordinary. However, if you’re on the job hunt or have been recently hired, you most likely need to dial down your social media use.

Chances are, you don’t exactly want your boss to stumble upon the sloppy pictures on your profile or immature tweets that your social media presence may contain.

2. Speaking Unprofessionally

If you’re guilty of integrating “like” into, like, every sentence you speak, or worse, using profanities, it’s time to clean up your act. No boss or superior will take your ideas or input as seriously as you would want if you speak unprofessionally. Brush up on your professional manner by observing other professionals and reading more. Books like [amazon template=product&asin=0205028993] can help you  sound smarter and get your message across more clearly.

3. Dressing Like a College Student

While yoga pants and Ugg boots may have been your go-to outfit when dressing for class, those days are (unfortunately) in the past. Swapping out your leggings for dress pants, hoodies for blazers, and flip-flops for pumps can ensure your clothing is on par with your new professional life.

4. Putting Your Health on the Back Burner

If you’re starting a new professional chapter, you’re going to need as much energy as you can get. To make sure you bring your top game to work each day, taking care of your health is key.

Getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising can help boost your energy, keep your mind sharp and even improve your immune system. While you may not have made your physical health a priority in college, choosing all-nighters over solid sleep or going to Chipotle instead of hitting the gym, now is the time to do just that.

5. Asking Your Parents for Money

One of the best aspects of becoming a professional is actually making money. Being able to afford more than Ramen noodles and having enough money to start paying off your student loans is something you could only dream of in college and is finally becoming a reality.

So, if you’re actually starting to make your own way, it’s time to ditch your account at the bank of mom and dad and truly live off your earnings.

6. Drinking on Weeknights

If you’re starting a career, it’s time to put college drinking habits behind you. 25% of college students say that drinking causes them to miss class, and you can’t have that habit translating to your professional job.  No longer are Thirsty Thursdays or impromptu Tuesday nights in with a box of Franzia acceptable. You have to put your best foot forward every day you go to work, so weeknights out tend to become a thing of the past.

7. Being Everybody’s Friend

In college you may have had a very large circle of friends you met up with at parties or took classes with. While you thought these friendships would last forever, the sad but real truth is that keeping up with everyone just isn’t going to happen, especially if you just started a career.

So, to make sure your most meaningful friendships stay strong, you may need to stop maintaining others and focus on only your most important relationships.

8. Feeling Validated By Others

Whether you want to believe it or not, before entering the “real world” almost all of your validation came from other people. Whether it was a coach judging your abilities, a teacher evaluating your learning or your parents validating your character, the success you felt often came from outside sources.

Now that you’re an adult and a professional, your feelings of pride and overall success need to come from you. Because, more likely than not, your boss won’t congratulate you for finishing an assignment or doing your job.

Transitioning from your college lifestyle to life as a professional comes with a lot of changes. In order to be successful in the “real” world, putting an end to your old habits and transitioning to a more adult lifestyle is key.

While it may seem hard to start paying your own way, deleting pictures from your Facebook account or even taking better care of your health, by changing your ways you can adjust to better your professional life and be more successful.

What are the biggest challenges you faced entering the professional work force? What changes did you have to make to cope with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images by StartupStockPhotosSplitShire, and Unsplash

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer with a passion for productivity and goal hacking. You can find her on your social sites and at Productivity Theory, her personal productivity blog. For more productivity-related posts, subscribe to her newsletter here.

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