The idea of success can be a daunting concept for everyone, but particularly for college students. On the one hand, you’re young and have your whole life ahead of you. On the other, though, you have all the short-term pressures of assignments, classes, and short-term projects; combined with the long-term worries of earning a high GPA, gaining meaningful experiences during those four college years, and preparing for a career and the “real world.”

That’s a lot for anyone to take on, particularly with everything else happening during college life. You have to find a way to balance ambition and fun; academics and job preparation; and your own unique combination of anxiety and drive toward success.

Here are five tips to help you stop worrying and accomplish your goals.

RelatedHow to Keep Calm When Things Go Wrong

Cultivate Community

Making Friends in College

A common quote in the Lifehacker community states “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” –Jim Rohn. Think about the people around you. Are they passionate about their projects? Are you passionate about their projects?

A very real way of making friends and developing community is to celebrate the people around you. Go to their events. Ask about their projects. Involve them in your ideas and plans. In college, you are surrounded by people working creatively toward a degree, but also toward a vast array of interests and passions along the way.

Be someone people want to include in their successes, and find people who will support you in the pursuit of your dreams.

Example: My undergraduate community all had different majors and different backgrounds, but we regularly attended each other’s departmental events and various activities. What we shared (among other things) was taste in TV shows, and we gathered regularly for the entire four years of college on every Wednesday or Thursday night to watch TV as a massive group. I honestly believe it was that simple ritual that held us together and helped us maintain a routine place and time to unwind and touch base.

It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

Journey, not destination

Pursue goals that improve your life while en route. If the only thing you want from college or any other venture in your life is the certificate at the end, then you’re selling yourself short.

If the path to success looks like a string of smaller successes, then you’ve got a happy life and a much better chance of finding what you’re looking for.

Example: When I was working on my undergraduate thesis, I interviewed people who inspired me, got in touch with groups and organizations that led to internships and friendships, and accomplished a massive independent project as an undergraduate. Those are all successes. And they helped me to the biggest success: a “Pass with Distinction” on my thesis, and an award recognizing my work.

Keep an Eye Toward Other Possible Futures

Use failure as an opportunity

I have a wide array of passions and interests. So even while I’m working hard toward a goal, I maintain an open mind and an ear to the ground. I call these my “Alternate Plan B Futures.”

If one goal and plan doesn’t work out, I have four or five others just waiting to be pursued. I have friends and contacts I could call on, if my current Plan A falls through.

My list of Plan B options means even a failure is just an opportunity. I have a list of dreams that also move me forward toward my long-term goals, and would be an adventure in the short-term. This takes pressure off my current plans, and also makes them feel like a choice. I am not trapped, and success is only one good option among many.

What would it take to have functional Plan B options for you? Is there a place you have always wanted to travel? A high school friend who is starting a business? An opportunity to teach English in another country? An internship you could return to, on a short-term paid contract?

Seek Guidance

College Mentors

Image: CDS

Connect with people who are older than you and who you admire. Don’t find just one—find several people. These might be professors, members of your campus community, or people completely disconnected from your university life.

You should be able to go to these people regularly for advice and guidance, and to use them as a sounding board for your plans and goals. When you hit obstacles or frustrations, reach out to these people for guidance and support.

Nurture your relationship with these mentors by staying in contact and showing your gratitude. Send them postcards from your travels. Nominate them for educational leadership awards. Tell them that their support has made a real difference in your life. And, once you’ve left university, maintain these connections. Your mentors support you because they believe in you and care about your journey. Include them in your success.

Be Confident

Be confident

Know that you have gotten this far for a reason, and you have a long and interesting road ahead of you. Find the joy in what you’re doing, and look for the opportunities hidden in hard times. Own your own experiences and perspective. Take pride in who you are and what you do.

Best of luck in your college journey! Follow your passions and create opportunities.