How to Manage Panicking About the Future

Although we’re not even halfway through the academic year, chances are you’ve already had to think, in some aspect, about your future. Whether you’re a first year realising that you already need to be looking at next year’s accommodation or a finalist having to contemplate post grad plans, it’s inevitable that the question arises: “what happens next?”

By Lucy Carter

Whilst thinking about the future and having an idea of what you want to do and where you want to be can be helpful, motivating, and maybe even comforting, it can also be daunting. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices ahead of you, which can in turn lead to paralysing inaction and even more stress. But there are alternatives to this spiral of panic!

If you’re feeling stressed about the future, then the first step is to try and unpack exactly what it is you’re concerned about. Is it about careers? Accommodation? Further education? Whatever the issue, let yourself just sit and think about what the precise problems are for you. I often find that writing things down is a great way to untangle your thoughts – having them on a page in front of you can make them seem a lot less scary. Whether you want to do this in a structured list or a rambling stream of consciousness is up to you, but the physical act of writing will slow down your thoughts and hopefully give you time to really consider the issue at hand.

A chalkboard drawing with a stick man walking up some stairs and the text 'What's next?'
Image Credit: 4241792 by geralt.

Great – now you’ve worked out what you’re actually worried about. An important lesson I’ve learned, as someone who panics over just about anything, is that you have to focus on what you can change rather than what you can’t. Think about what actions you can take to alleviate some of your future-stress. Maybe book a meeting with the careers team or start doing some research into postgrad courses. Even if you’re just clicking through a few websites and doing a bit of research, I can say with some degree of certainty that once you actually do something about whatever it is you’re worried about, you’ll feel at least a little bit better. Once you’ve managed to calm yourself down, start to think more logically, and work out what actions you can take, what the next thing to do is, and to try and establish a plan. If your issue is accommodation, then try to sort out some deadlines for when you want this to be sorted by. Planning when you’ll research houses, decide which one is for you, and have the whole situation wrapped up by gives you a clear to-do list and time frame that you can stick to. The same goes for researching post grad options, looking for jobs or anything else that you might be dreading looking into or even properly thinking about. This formula works for them all!

“You have to focus on what you can change rather than what you can’t”

Whilst this is a quick fix for future fears, it’s important to remember that not everything can be planned out and guaranteed. Maybe you’ll come across the job you want or the perfect house by chance, rather than determination. “Stay calm” might sound unhelpful and oversimplifying, but it really is one of the best things you can do. But having a plan can definitely help you to prevent a lot of stress and feel like you have a little more control over the situation. So get your thoughts in order, start taking action and, most importantly, stay calm!


If you’re thinking about career planning, why not take a look at our posts on creative career planning and writing PhD proposals.

Have you found these tips helpful in your future planning? Let us know in the comments below, tweet us @WarwickLibrary or email us at libraryblogs@warwick.ac.uk.

Header Image: 1868728 by Pexels.

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