It’s easy to get caught up in worry and forget the power we have over our own destinies. “What if I can’t land a job?” or “What if I mess up the interview?” These are common anxieties among recent graduates. But dwelling on these doubts drains our positivity and productivity, setting a negative tone for the challenges that lie ahead after leaving school. If you catch yourself in this mindset, it’s time to shift your focus to what you can control. By taking proactive steps rather than succumbing to negative thinking, you pave the way for success and happiness.

Neither success nor happiness needs to be out of reach, nor should rejection hold you back. History is filled with examples of individuals who faced setbacks but went on to achieve greatness.

  • In 1995, J.K. Rowling, a struggling writer on welfare, faced rejection from 12 publishers before landing a deal for her “Harry Potter” series, now a global phenomenon worth billions.
  • Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job at 22 for “lack of creativity.” Yet, he became one of the most celebrated figures in entertainment, with numerous Oscars to his name.
  • Oprah Winfrey’s early setback as a fired TV anchor in Baltimore didn’t deter her; she built an empire and became one of the most influential media moguls in the world.
  • Lady Gaga faced rejection when dropped by her record label but went on to become a Grammy-winning superstar and actress.

You will encounter challenges too—rejection, heartbreak, and worries that keep you up at night. But remember, you’re not alone. Find inspiration from those who have overcome similar obstacles.

As you enter the next phase of your life, here’s how to thrive and find happiness:

  1. Maintain a positive outlook: Focus on possibilities, not limitations, and surround yourself with inspiring influences.
  2. Create a supportive circle: Happy, supportive people will bolster your own happiness and well-being.
  3. Pursue fulfilling work: Find a career that aligns with your passions and values, making each day something to look forward to; not to dread.
  4. Value time over money: Strike a balance between work and life, cherishing experiences over material wealth.
  5. Embrace flexibility: Life rarely goes as planned; adaptability is key to navigating unexpected challenges.
  6. Give back: Volunteering not only helps others but also brings fulfillment and perspective to your own life.
  7. Seek experiences: Invest in moments and memories, as they hold more value than material possessions.

Finally, keep perspective: Life is short but full of opportunities. Make the most of each moment, knowing that challenges are just part of the journey toward a fulfilling life.


  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert