“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force” states Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion. Normally we apply its principles to the science of matter and energy pertaining to motion, force and momentum. Understanding this law is useful during a physics exam but surprisingly, I have discovered, it can also be applied to solve some of life’s more challenging personal problems.
Many college graduates seem to lack direction especially in terms of securing a satisfying, well paying career. They often find a limited number of job opportunities in their chosen field and lack a well thought out plan as well as the persistence and motivation to achieve their difficult goal. When I experienced this I kind of felt like I was wandering around a vast Montana wilderness with no compass to guide me.
My options upon graduation were either to attend graduate school or find a job in which I could make good use of my science degree. I chose the latter, but did not realize the difficulty of this formidable undertaking.
Initially, I decided to seek employment in the field of my college major. This was my first mistake. I realized this after sending out an endless stream of resumes. I first applied as an assistant lab technician with hopes of working my way up. Apparently, it seemed they were not interested in a person with just a science degree. I had a couple of job offers, but they were low paying and kind of like assistant to an assistant laboratory gopher jobs. In other words I applied for jobs no one else wanted to do. Most employers responded they were looking for person with specialized laboratory training or an advanced science degree.
Eventually, after months of searching and sending out resumes, I decided it was finally time to take the alternate graduate school route. I realized it was necessary for me to earn this advanced degree in order to become sought-after in this pathetic and very competitive job market.
I decided to work a couple of part-time jobs to replace a full time one in order to pay the torrent of bills stuffed in my mailbox each month. Most graduates eventually realize that a part time job or two falls short when you’re on your own and paying all your own living expenses. For instance, I had to make monthly installments on my school loans, car insurance, gas, and cell phone bill.
Sooner or later, most graduates eventually find themselves in similar straits. They find the income earned from part time work is insufficient to meet all of the living expenses for anyone living on their own. Consequently, the part timer will eventually be forced to return to the nest and move back in with Mom and Dad.
Incidentally, I’d like to share a feeling that’s quite common among recent graduates. Many feel as I felt, that I was employed as a lifeguard at a job that was below my educational level (a lifeguard with chemistry degree). I also observed friends and acquaintances in similar circumstances having graduated, and never having advanced to a meaningful nicely paying career. I observed that many lacked the motivation, persistence and the necessary discipline to make the leap to a better paying job. They remained stuck in the same part time job rut for years, really going nowhere and adrift in the sea of life.
I understood and shared their frustrations because it’s easy (as I experienced) to unknowingly become comfortable in a mediocre job, postponing life goals and slowly being zapped of the vital energy and focus that a person needs to thrust them through the rigors of achieving their dreams. Speaking for myself, I found the longer I remained at rest the harder it was for me to regain my previous college momentum. With dwindling ambition being caught up in a low wage entry level or part time job and a lack of focus, it’s easy to see how any graduate could be unaware of their situation and find themselves slipping into a horrible rut.
Giving this matter some serious thought, it struck me that I really had not been advancing in life as I had always done in prior years. Up until graduation from college, I seemed to be on the right track. Why had I slowed to a slugs pace. More importantly, how could I get a move-on? Looking for answers, I drew upon my background, my love of science and Newton’s First Law, remembering that if I remained an object at rest I would go nowhere and stay at rest. My hard work during college would be for naught. From within, I realized I needed to initiate the vital force necessary to move myself in a positive direction. Unlike the “outside force” in Newton’s Law, the force I needed didn’t have a unit of measurement and carried no numerical value to be used in an equation. This force had to come from within through self-discovery, discipline and setting goals. I reasoned I had to apply this theoretical principal to my life in order to continually progress forward. This is how I personally achieve my goals and how anyone can initiate and keep the momentum going.
For starters, you can set intermediary goals, like when I’m 25 I’ll be in graduate school or after graduation, within 3 to 6 months, I’ll have secured a meaningful and well paying full-time job. Next, find your niche through volunteer work, job shadowing, interning or by doing general research into professions related to your degree that appeal to you. I took action shortly after college by enrolling in an EMT course, shadowing a variety of healthcare practitioners and volunteering at several nonprofit organizations. Through my involvement I was able to determine a prospective career path and formulate a methodical plan to achieve my goals. When you stay busy you stay focused and your knowledge base continues to grow. Others will recognize your determination and abilities. When the time comes to advance, you’ll most likely be sought-after in the eyes of future employers and admissions committees. The momentum you’ve established will help open doors and push you towards success.
While it’s wonderful to secure that dream full-time job or acceptance into graduate school, if things don’t always work out, this isn’t a reason to slow down. Just continue the momentum and follow Newton’s Law of Motion by keeping the ball rolling! If you accomplish one goal, set another, and another, and another. As a recent college graduate, I have found it’s healthy to embrace this approach on life and hope to do so all the way through my golden years. Always reaching for a dream gives a sense of purpose in one’s life. Achieving that dream awards you with a sense of accomplishment. As said by Oscar Wilde, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” By embodying an object in motion through continually progressing in a direction you choose to live.