Where will you be a year from now? What about two years? What will you be doing? Will you be in high school? Will you be at a college or university by then?
What about in 10 years? What do you want to be doing? How much thought have you given to planning your career?
If you will be working by then, what kind of job do you envision? Do you see yourself working for minimum wage in the fast-food industry? Or do you want to do something more meaningful, challenging and fulfilling?
It’s natural to assume that the best will happen to us. We like to think that, when it comes our time to get a job, whatever we find ourselves doing will be interesting and productive and give us a satisfying sense of accomplishment. We like to believe we’ll have an appreciative boss or that perhaps we’ll be our own boss and that our work environment will be one of our own making.
Who’s in charge?
But things don’t normally turn out that way. Most people drift from year to year. Some have goals and work toward them. But, more often than not, people tend to float along, allowing the currents of life to push them in one direction and then the other. Like a leaf bobbing along in a swiftly moving stream, they allow themselves to be at the mercy of outside forces.
It’s true that life throws us curves. External forces converge on us, pushing us one direction or the other. At times life demands that we make choices about our future, and sometimes it seems as if we are limited in our options. But we do have choices.
A leaf carried along on a stream has no choice. It will go where the currents carry it. But God gave us minds and the ability to make choices. In fact, He tells us we must make choices (Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×).
Years ago I read a book titled If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else. It makes such a simple yet profound statement.
To this day I think of that title often, especially when I read scriptures such as Proverbs 22:3 Proverbs 22:3A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
American King James Version×that address the importance of looking ahead and watching where you’re going. That verse tells us that “a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.”
Only by looking beyond your next step can you keep from being washed along by the currents of life. By looking farther ahead you greatly improve your chances of steering away from some of the troubles that could be waiting for you.To improve your ability to look ahead in the road of life and prepare yourself, you’ll have to do some thinking and dreaming about the future.
Unlocking the gates
If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going talks about the inevitable fact that we come to forks in the road where we must make choices. The forks are like gates. Unless you have the skills, education and developed abilities you need to unlock the gates, you’ll be forced to go in a less-desirable direction. Even if you’d really like to explore what lies along the path beyond a particular gate, you might find yourself locked out.
The author’s point is that each of us needs to accumulate and cultivate the personal assets that will allow us to open gates when we come to them. Those assets take the form of education and experience combined with skills and aptitudes. As a minimum you need to know what your assets are, what you can do well or have the best possibility of doing well.
Whether you can choose certain paths will depend for the most part on you and your choices. It will depend on whether you have the required personal assets. That means you must take the initiative to discover and develop them. As the book concludes: “People who want milk should not seat themselves on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that the cow will back up to them.” Each person needs to take the initiative to improve his chances for success in life. That’s why planning is so important.
Planning or dreaming?
Such planning goes beyond simply dreaming. Dreaming about success is a start, but it does little to bring your dream to reality. It doesn’t develop any assets that will help you unlock gates when you’re faced with choices.
The critical difference between dreaming and planning is that planning takes you beyond the dream. It involves working toward a means of making the dream reality.
For example, a young person interested in aviation can dream about flying. He can imagine what it would be like to soar like a bird above the clouds. He can dream of how it would feel to have the freedom to go in any direction. But his dreams will never become reality unless he takes steps to make them come true.
It takes effort to move a dream into the category of a plan. Such a plan calls for research followed by thoughtful action.
It involves finding and talking to people in the aviation field. It requires finding what steps need to be taken and how to obtain money for flying lessons or to attend a school of aeronautics.
It’s work, but it’s worth it
Make no mistake. It takes work to properly prepare yourself. That’s one reason so many people find it easier to dream than to create and develop a plan for life.
Proverbs 13:11 Proverbs 13:11Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathers by labor shall increase.
American King James Version×sums up the benefit of hard work: “Wealth from gambling quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows” (Living Bible). Other passages also point out the benefit of work and that, in the long run, mere talk without work doesn’t help (Proverbs 14:23 Proverbs 14:23In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tends only to penury.
American King James Version×; 28:19).
Creating a plan for life is well worth the effort. It will help you discover, develop and accumulate the assets that will allow you to gain more control over your future by removing some of the limitations on your prospective choices.
It’s easy simply to drift through life. But anyone who chooses that route is like a leaf at the mercy of the currents in a stream. On the other hand, those who make firm plans and prepare themselves will find they are more like a person with a paddle in a canoe in that same stream. They won’t find themselves at the mercy of the currents. They’ll have the ability to choose the direction they want to go as they travel the river of life. Yes, it takes effort, but it is well worth it in the end.
Where will you be in a few years?
The answer to that question is up to you. There’s an old saying: You have to take life as it happens, but you should try to make it happen the way you want to take it.
Don’t drift. Plan for your life so you can shape it. We’ll discuss this some more next time. GN