Just for Youth... Planning for Life: Two Crucial Keys for Success

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Just for Youth... Planning for Life

Two Crucial Keys for Success

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In the first three parts of this series we saw the importance of developing a career plan. You shouldn't rely on others to do your planning. In fact, when others chart your course (such as when parents decide a career for a child), your plans often don't fit the circumstances. The person whose life is being micromanaged can end up feeling trapped and unhappy.

It's best if you take the time to take stock of your own assets, then create your plans for a career based on godly spiritual principles—including due consideration of how your life's work can benefit the world in the age to come after Jesus Christ returns.

In this concluding installment we take a look at two final principles to help you along your journey: building a network of support, and not automatically accepting limitations others may place on you.

The value of support

First we'll consider the advice of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 [9] Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. [10] For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
American King James Version×
. The New Revised Standard Bible translates King Solomon's words this way: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help."

Life is a journey, not a destination. Any long trip holds the potential for surprises, snags, delays and other challenges. So it is with life in general.

Even when we follow an overall strategy as we should, things don't always go our way. The variables are almost endless. They might involve health—your own or that of a family member. They could include finances or involve conflicts with scheduling or problems with a class if your plan includes college or trade school. They might even be psychological, prompting you to lose your focus and slip into a counterproductive frame of mind.

Regardless of the nature of the challenges we face, they can inspire us to build a support network to provide the kind of help the Bible describes—friends to lift you up, literally or figuratively.

That same passage in Ecclesiastes 4 notes that a rope of three strands is strong and not quickly snapped (verse 12), reminding us of the benefits of more than one person cooperating to help us along our path.

Networking: An ancient principle

In books and articles about business matters,much has been written about networking, the technique of making connections, acquaintances and friendships with many people. The practice is a modern adaptation of a timeless biblical principle recorded thousands of years ago.

Someone who is a friend indeed will support and help you through your problems, even when they may be self-inflicted, such as those that come from losing sight of your career goal. At those times you need someone who cares enough about you to tell you the truth.

Truth may not be what you want to hear at the time and may in fact hurt, but a friend who tells you the truth so you can return to the right path is the best kind to have. Proverbs 27:6 Proverbs 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
American King James Version×
tells us that the "wounds"— the painful corrections—that come from true friendship are "faithful." Such a friend has our best interests at heart. That's the kind of friend who can stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24 Proverbs 18:24A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
American King James Version×

So choose your support network well. It's good to have many friends, advisers and even mentors. However, it is probably most helpful when these people have the same spiritual values you have. They can likely give you the best guidance along your career path.

Networking, building a support group, is just as important when you're beginning the process of developing your plan for life as it is later on when you are implementing your plan. As you develop your life plan and goals, discuss them with others who know you well. Parents, counselors, pastors and other advisers can be a great source of help as you begin the walk down the path you've chosen.

Proverbs 15:22 Proverbs 15:22Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
American King James Version×
shows the importance of asking for help with your approach, since without counsel "plans go awry . . ." If you avail yourself of the help of others, don't make the mistake of leaving them out of the loop. Keep them informed of your progress. They will be grateful for your continued contact, and you will gain the benefit of their support and encouragement as you make your way step by step.

Never give up

If you're like most young people, you'll probably get more advice than you want—and often from sources you haven't pursued. Although such advice can be helpful, don't always assume that everyone who gives you advice should be part of your permanent support network. If you received sound advice when you originally chose your career, don't casually cast it aside and change it. Just because someone questions whether you can persevere in a certain direction, or predicts you will never achieve your goals, don't quickly abandon your plan and become sidetracked.

Naoko Takahashi ran track at a junior high school in Japan. She loved to run, but she wasn't winning any big races at the junior-high level. Still, running was one of her goals, and she worked hard at it.

Naoko didn't stand out in senior high school or college, either. After college she wanted to join her employer's running team, but company officials told her she wasn't good enough for the company to pay her way to its running camp.

Naoko was determined to pursue her passion for running, so she paid her own way to the camp and continued her quest to follow her dream of winning a big race.

In 1997 she switched from 5,000- and 10,000-meter races to marathon training. In 1998 she set a new national record, and last September she won the Olympic marathon in Sydney, Australia, to become the first Japanese woman to win a gold medal in the marathon.

The lesson? If Naoko Takahashi had accepted the advice of friends and associates who told her she wasn't good enough, she would not have achieved her success.

Be positive but realistic

It is a fact of life that you will probably have many people place limitations on you because of your economic status, education, a handicap or other factors.

When this happens it's easy to allow other people's negative words, and then your own negative thoughts, to dissuade you from your goals. But don't automatically accept people's comments as valid. In Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×
Paul notes that we can do "all things" through Christ. With God's help you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

On the other hand, even while we're thinking positively we need to be realistic. Don't take Paul's words as a promise that God will back you up in anything you decide to do. Note that the context of Paul's advice, judging from the wording of the previous verse, is that he learned to deal with hunger as well as prosperity.

Paul does not promise that God will make us successful in any area we happen to choose. A person who is color-blind cannot properly cite Paul's words here to believe that God will help him become a successful artist, interior decorator or auto-body repairman. Those vocations require the ability to work with shades of color. God does not promise success to someone whose eyes cannot detect those distinctions.

How can a person know, then, whether an imagined limitation imposed by someone else is spurious and to be ignored or if it represents the faithful "wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6 Proverbs 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
American King James Version×
) who happens to know you're color-blind but are illadvisedly pursuing a field that requires working with shades of color?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell. This is where your knowledge, wisdom and network of friends again become important to you. If someone wants to limit you, consider his words carefully. If he sounds as if he may have a valid point, go to a another trusted friend or adviser. Discuss the basis of the objection and ask for an honest evaluation. Someone who has your long-term best interests at heart can help you decide if this is indeed a reason to change your career goal or simply another obstacle that persistence and hard work can overcome.

Success requires effort

Success rarely falls into anyone's lap. It requires work. Keep in mind a saying that appeared in the first article in this series: 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.

To find a successful career, you have to dream. But don't just dream. Plan how you can achieve what you'd like so your dreams can come true. Ask for advice so you can make sure the career path you choose fits with your aptitudes, abilities and skills as well as with God's goals. Then pour yourself into your pursuit, remembering to build and draw on your network of advisers and friends who can help you surmount whatever obstacles life may place in your way.