Ever wonder why the lenders call it a grace period? For many new graduates, the six to nine-month long grace period, or deferment period, is a ticking time-bomb that creates an irrational urgency to land a job with a good salary as soon as possible. And it feels anything but graceful. Instead of undergoing an early-life crisis, there are tools I have found to be effective in transforming this stressful stage of life into a rewarding and ultimately happier six months of grace (the good kind!) First, here’s the formal definition:
- favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity (in business)
- the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another
In other words, the lenders have “graced” us with six months before repayment begins. Then the ball is in our court. We are considered to be immune, or unable to be harmed. How can we respond to the situation in grace, by exercising love, kindness, and serving another?
1. Take this free time to make a long-term plan that matters to you and others. From personal experience I can attest to the amount of pressure that even the expectation of debt can cause. It’s natural to shift into sink or swim mode when there is an approaching deadline that we know has to be met. The danger of this adrenaline rush is in allowing it to make our career decisions. Before graduating, you probably had a career goal in mind or at least fields that interested you or things you particularly excelled in. These are your inherent gifts or “the things you were meant to do” as they call it. However, when it’s time to sink or swim, many of us toss our gifts out the window because we need financial security—and we need it NOW. When we abandon our gifts, we are living selfishly. Maybe you were the only person who could have shared a specific talent or skill, but now the world will never feel its power or use. We are not in the realm of benefiting others, but only ourselves in these circumstances. In this case, we are missing the larger picture and the chance for us and our communities to be happy long-term. In the fury of job applying, take a second to stop and think: do I want this job because it would be a good opportunity to share my gifts for the betterment of others or simply for the money? Use the six months to self-reflect and realize or re-realize your calling and gifts—your grace. Don’t forget that this calling is what drove you to accept the debt. It was important enough to you to make the sacrifice, so why would you disregard it now?
2. Stay healthy physically and mentally. The only thing worse than having an early-life crisis crying hysterically over your laptop on the Craigslist job listings screen is also feeling mentally drained and physically fatigued. Applying for jobs and budgeting your new financial obligations is immense new-found stress. The least we can do is be good to our bodies and minds throughout the process. I challenge you to not drink and eat away your sorrows, or hibernate under the sheets. Don’t allow yourself to check out. Volunteer. Make new friends. Enjoy old or new hobbies. All of these things will help keep you focused on who you really are and what your purpose is while drawing the focus away from your bank account. Just because your bank account isn’t growing doesn’t mean you can’t! Even though it seems like every waking minute must be spent job searching and number crunching, you can make the time to rejuvenate. Half the time you set aside for writing cover letters is probably spent stressing and/or procrastinating anyways! I know this because I’ve been there. Plus, you’ll be a more attractive candidate with a clearer mind. In the long run, the positive reinforcements will lead you into the right direction. If we are going to come out of grace period successfully and in one piece, we have to be ready for battle!
3. Be responsive and open to chance. The third step is an extension of the previous two. Can you think of a time when an opportunity seemed to magically fall into your lap at the exact time when you stopped thinking about it? Or have you been offered an experience that you never would have thought of until someone brought it to your attention and then it turns out to be just what you didn’t know you needed? These are life’s most graceful moments. Think of it this way, you have six whole months to explore career paths without paying a single penny on your loans. The loans will probably be a part of your life for the next 10 years so why are we in such a rush to make them the center of attention already? Why waste the chance to re-group and clear your mind after all the hard-work put towards earning your degree? If you focus all your energy into worrying about the last day of grace period, you might miss potential opportunities. It goes back to the law of attraction. Being stressed brings more stress into your life. Dreading November 21st will surely make that day a nightmare when it gets here, not to mention all the days leading up to it that you made yourself sick envisioning how awful it will be. Living in the present and taking each day as it comes—exploring and be thankful for our gifts and those of others will bring more success into your life. This is not only financial success but a life of grace and happiness. Take this time to build yourself up to be full of grace and purpose and the rest will fall into place by law of attraction.
Just try it: For the next week, focus on sharing your gifts and skills and see where that takes you.
Have a great,