The Three Most Important Decisions: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 1)

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At this juncture we have reached a crossroads. Up until now, this blog series has focused on advising and directing parents.

In keeping with the advice given to the parents of pubescent children, we are going to shift the focus of our audience from the parents to the students who are completing their secondary level education at home.

However, even though the future belongs to the student, I do not want to exclude parents from the conversation. Therefore, I will be making suggestions that may at times be directed at parents or students or both.

I strongly urge parents to make this blog series a required part of your student’s secondary learning, especially as they approach and transition to the post-secondary level.

Now, let’s begin by discussing:

The Three Most Important Decisions

Life provides us with many opportunities for making decisions. In fact, it is estimated that we make as many as 35,000 decisions every day, whether we are conscious of them or not!

No doubt, there are some decisions that are much more important than others, especially those affecting your long term best interests. In that respect, I believe that everybody will make three critical decisions in life.

The first and most critical decision involves God’s place in your life. Whether you decide for or against God, or to accept or reject what Jesus has provided you, is of critical importance as it defines eternity.

A decision about eternity not only establishes the outcome of your post-life journey, but affects your future, which is included within the eternal.

Consider that how you perceive God becomes the very foundation upon which you build your worldview and that this is the place from which you will draw all your presumptions in decision making.

Furthermore, the degree to which you commit to serve and obey the Lord will very much influence the direction you choose to walk in life. Indeed, the amount of freedom you will have will correlate with the extent to which you walk in faith. You can study this in the Gospel of John, Chapter 8.

The second most important decision involves love and marriage! This decision, properly made and maintained, will last a lifetime.

Although not as crucial as the decision to follow or not to follow God’s directives regarding eternity, a lifetime is a long time, so this decision is of critical importance to your journey here on planet earth, and it should not be taken lightly.

Getting attached with the wrong person will lead to either a long miserable life or a broken one. Neither is desirable.

Although this decision is the second most important one you will make in your life, the third most important decision will likely be made before the second most important decision.

The third biggest decision that you will have to make is regarding your career or what you will do in life. Unlike the eternal consequences of the “what place will God have in your life” decision, or the lifelong “who will be your partner” decision, this one will affect your day to day life for forty years or so.

Unlike the first two decisions, this one is more of a process than an event. Although there may be some trial and error in the beginning, most people eventually find their place in this world.

All these decisions are individual decisions. Nobody can make them for you.

Parents cannot make these decisions for their children. They most certainly should be advising, but parents will not be the ones having to live directly with the outcomes of any of these decisions.

However, you need to clearly understand that all decisions made by any person will affect others, especially those closest to you.

Generally speaking, nobody is blessed with the ability to make the right decision every time. No doubt, there will be changes of mind as you go through all the options for faith, family and freedom.

If your desire is to get things right the first time, start with the most important decision first, namely, God’s place in your life. If that decision is correct, you have a better chance of making the right decision respecting marriage.

Regarding marriage, there will be a few, maybe many potential candidates, but only one needs to win! There is no need to get in a hurry, but at the same time, if you are waiting for the perfect person to show up, you may be waiting for a long time!

I am personally not convinced that one has to actively seek a lifelong partner. My experience is, I must admit, somewhat limited, but I believe that this ideal, not perfect, individual sort of “falls” into one’s life as one walks through it. Maybe trusting God to provide this person is the best approach. What do you think?

Once a potential candidate comes into your life, remember that even though marriage is a personal and intimate relationship between you and your partner, it includes everyone involved in your lives. Some of your “seasonal acquaintances” will drop out, but most will want to continue to be part of your life.

Involving those who love you the most, starting with your parents and siblings, cannot be overemphasized. As a rule of thumb, if your potential candidate fits right in with the rest of the family, you at least have someone who will not be separating you from your loved ones.

As mentioned, career decisions are usually made before the marriage decision. On this front, it is okay to experiment. Part time work or volunteering is a good way to get the experience and to discover what you like or don’t like doing.

There are two things at play in the beginning of your career search. First there is finding a job, getting experience and cash to move forward in life. Few start and end in the same place.

The other issue involves what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Few start here, but most everyone ends here.

This is where the home educated have a real advantage over the schooled in that they are usually more comfortable with who they are, more aware of their strengths and limitations, more mature and therefore more able to find a good fit, earlier.

Three big decisions. The first is by inspiration. The second is by enlightenment. The third is by discovery. All are life changing and therefore critical.

Parents should be involved. Family and friends should be involved. But you will have to ultimately make them.

Oh! By the way, if all these questions are about your future, your foundations, direction and purpose in life, I highly recommend you consult the One who truly knows something about that!

Make the most critical decision to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. If you keep the other decisions in prayer, you will find that they will eventually be added unto you.

Preparing for Life, Not for College: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 2)

God did not call parents to prepare their children for college but to prepare them for life, both on this earth and for eternity. There is a big difference.

Even if college becomes one of the steps taken along the way, it is not the focus as much as a means to an end that no one can accurately predict.

While the parents’ job is certainly to encourage children to be the best that they can be, to direct them with an eye to the future, and to praise them always for a job well done, it is the students that need to prepare for their future, for life and for college if, indeed, that becomes part of the plan.

One of the best preparations for the future is something that usually comes naturally with home education. Those who have been sentenced to school are usually either completely confused about the world and themselves, and/or pressured to make decisions before they have the personal knowledge and confidence to do so, but this is not so with the home educated.

You have been given one of the best gifts any growing and maturing child could receive; the privilege of being who you are. Not only did you not have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of unreasonable, peer-pressured expectations, but you were given plenty of uninterrupted time to make informed decisions.

You were raised in the only environment possible where you could truly receive unconditional love. This is not to say that your parents did not correct your errant ways while encouraging you to model your life in accordance with a code of conduct that has withstood opposition since the dawn of time, but they did not try to recreate you into something that wasn’t you.

This freedom to be who you are gave you something most in the jungle environment and laws of school are robbed of. You were directed to have confidence in yourself, your abilities and to be exposed to and familiarized with your shortcomings.

This is not to say that you are the centre of the universe, but that you were given the opportunity to be aware of your being, within a universe much bigger and older than yourself.

This knowledge and confidence about yourself provides you with a much clearer vision of options for how you will occupy your life and you are not as likely to be choosing a career based on money, prestige or power.

Children may make decisions based on faulty premises such as uniforms, world-saving ideology or self-aggrandizement, but you were encouraged to grow up and put away childish things. Your focus on the future is more mature because it is, hopefully, less self-centred.

The home educated students are, therefore, more likely to follow a more successful career path as they are less likely to be confused about who they are and what they are capable of, reducing the experimental fact-finding needed for those less confident of themselves.

Being familiar with yourself, your gifts, strengths, weaknesses, faults and shortcomings is the key to finding the appropriate pathway in life.

Starting with the knowledge of what you can and cannot do will quickly eliminate needless “dreaming” about things out of your grasp or undervaluing yourself. On that note, always challenge yourself by reaching beyond what you think you are capable of.

Understanding that you are unique in this world, and not simply a clone of someone else’s design, also better equips you to find your particular place in this world.

Celebrating what makes you different rather than trying to confine yourself to the conformity of school will serve you very well in determining what you will do with your life.

Remember that, unlike the world’s measuring stick, it’s not what you do that determines who you are, but rather who you are that determines what you do.

Being comfortable with being different also places you in an advantageous position. After all, assuming that you do not see this world as being here for you as much as you being here to serve the world, you will want to make a positive impact on it or to make a difference within it.

And it should be obvious that in order to make a difference, you have to be different.

This is not to say that everyone will be in a leadership position, but to understand that we all affect those around us, one way or the other. It is my hope that you want to affect those who have found themselves as part of your life, in a positive way.

Finally, I most certainly do not subscribe to the belief that God has a perfect plan for you. Outside of Salvation through Jesus, which indeed is the eternal perfect plan, God gives you all the latitude you need to make life choices.

Indeed, He gives you enough freedom to make wrong decisions, too. If you truly want freedom to make decisions about your life, you need to take responsibly for it and the decisions you make. Also, you must be prepared to admit error when it happens, do what you can to fix the problem and move on.

Proceeding Without Bad Ideas: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 3)

Before I venture any further in this series, intended to be viewed by post-pubescent students as much as by parents, it is imperative that I speak about a topic that occasionally comes up within the home education community, indeed, any community.

It is regarding perfection. It doesn’t exist outside of God, so forget about reaching it any other way. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children.

Imperfect parents cannot expect perfection of their imperfect children. Neither should imperfect children expect it of imperfect parents. Get past this crazy idea of expecting perfection from anyone or anything!

Just as unreasonable as the perfection merry-go-round we just went through, is to expect perfection of yourself. To be conscious of doing good work, to strive to be the best that you can be, or to expect excellence of yourself is all good, but you will not do well as a “perfectionist”!

Perfectionists are impossible to live with because they live in an impossible world. Perfectionists are so disconnected from the real world, they may even start to confuse their desire for perfection with their actually being perfect. Bad plan! Perfect people don’t exist, remember?

Furthermore, people who think they are perfect cannot possibly improve on perfection, so they handicap their own growth as a consequence. Perfect people see themselves as faultless and flawless, not as having failings or of being failures!

The next step to thinking you are perfect is to declare personal divinity and then to advance self-righteousness as His righteousness. This can only lead to disaster!

Forget about being perfect. Forgo the temptation to expect it of others. Just be good old imperfect you and strive to be the best you can be and to do the best that you can do, without beating yourself up when making a mistake.

As mentioned last time, the home educated have a number of advantages over the school educated. However, even though you have a better starting point in making life decisions, you can never expect perfection of yourself or anybody else. Besides, seeking perfection can actually paralyze decision making.

Living in an imperfect world provides ample opportunity for bad things to creep into our lives, without our being aware of it. There will always be ideas and actions that will direct you to repeat error, sometimes by default, other times by design, but never to perfection.

As solid as your worldview may be, it is still full of error, or shall I say, is imperfect and subject to further corruption.

You must understand that when the secular world keeps repeating a message, there is likely a reason. You may not know this, but the best way to indoctrinate people is to provide the same information, over and over again, eventually wearing down natural resistance, leading to the acceptance of what is being presented, as truth.

Repeating these principles or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true is the very definition of dogma, the underlying root of the dogmatic, who repeat an idea without knowing the original source or why it is or is not so.

There is no lack of examples one could use to illustrate how error becomes fixed as part of our thinking, but we will focus on a few specifically associated with career paths.

The first and most widely advanced bad career idea is that anybody can be anything they want to be. This secular thinking is based on the assumption that all people are born as a product of some cosmic chance occurrence, as blank slates that can be programmed to be something constructive, or destructive, depending on one’s perspective.

This is why there are so many people bouncing around from one job or career to another. If we can be anything we want to be, we will eventually find what we want to be, I guess! However, even this wrong thinking actually highlights an important reality about careers.

That is, there are really only two possible careers. You heard me right. There is the right career, the one in keeping with your gifts, talents and abilities, and the wrong career, which is not.

This takes us back to our original good idea that those who are more confident with who they are, are more likely to avoid paths that do not fit. If you are already familiar with your positive and negative attributes, it is easier to eliminate the wrong careers and potentially right careers are more likely to be identified quicker.

It should be obvious that people need to have a God-given aptitude for the career they choose. If you can’t draw, don’t aspire to being an artist. If you can’t hold a tune in a bucket, forget about being a rock star. Well maybe you could be some kind of star, as they occasionally prove how not having talent is not a hindrance! My opinion, of course!

Can’t stand the sight of blood? Forget medicine or nursing, even if it sounds so… romantic! Can’t stand people? Really, you need to fix that, but in the meantime, stay out of the service industry!

Many people have bought the lie that said they could be anything they wanted to be and have taken the longer, and likely more expensive, route to find the right career.

However, you can only be who God created you to be. I am not talking about a specific position, but a career in keeping with who you are. If you are excited about going to work, you can consider that to be the right job or career, at least for now.

Does Higher Education Mean Better Success? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 4)

Continuing with our bad career idea of being whatever you want to be, I want to share something I experienced while doing an East Coast circuit of talks several years ago. As we were billeted, we got a chance to have personal contact with a number of people who had organized the events.

As usual, the dialogue eventually took us to discuss what we were doing for a living.

Funny, isn’t it? What we recently talked about in a video as being the biggest decisions in life end up being what we are most interested to learn about other people, starting with our questioning their worldview perspective, then their marital status and/or family makeup and finally the careers involved.

As we moved from place to place, I started to take note of a pattern respecting the careers of the people with whom I was associating. We were billeted with a university math professor, a fisherman, a pastor, a teacher, a policeman, a music producer, a financial planner, a prosthetist and a host of other people in various positions, postings, careers and jobs.

What became clear to me was that it did not seem to matter whether these careers involved a lot of higher education, or money or prestige, or not.

The thread that ran through it all was that pretty well everybody I visited was happy with what they were doing for a living, with the notable exception of the fellow who said he made his living by shoving cars down people’s throats!

Obviously, this individual was not happy with his placement, nor was the physical education instructor at the local college who could not understand why others did not see things his way.

Both these individuals were in the wrong place, highlighting that there are only two possible careers, that being, the right one and the wrong one, which, as previously stated, is determined by the individual characteristics of the person.

So much for the school-based idea about people becoming anything they want to be!

Later on, when I asked how many in the audience I was addressing were post-secondary educated, that is, had some training, diploma, certificate or degree beyond a “grade 12”, over three quarters of the crowd indicated they had.

Asking those who had post-secondary training to leave their hands up if they were presently employed in their field of training, nearly every hand went down!

Further probing the crowd, when I asked how many were content with their present employment, nearly every hand went up, clearly demonstrating that post-secondary training, while important, seemed to be disconnected from what people ended up doing with their lives, exposing yet another bad idea about careers, which is, that more education guarantees a better placement.

I also asked one more question after noticing that there were a few people who stated that they had some kind of post-secondary training and that they were working in their field of training.

When I asked how many knew at a young age that they wanted to do what they are doing today, the same people had their hands up. Not willing to accept this as coincidence, I asked what they did for a living.

They fell into two categories. They were either tradesman or farmer and fisherman, which have one common characteristic. Both of these careers are initially learned from people doing the job. That is, the skills are learned from experts in the field.

This was interesting as folks going into these careers usually do not go to college to find them, but rather know what they want and go to college to qualify to do just that. This educational process is called apprenticeship, but we can also refer to it as mentorship.

This East Coast experience led me to question the whole idea of why the world advances going to college as the most important thing one can do respecting education. Perhaps this is why there are a number of people who, while post-secondary educated, are not actually working in the field they’re trained in.

I believe that there are two lessons here. The first is that post-secondary training does not guarantee success and that if we try to find a career by first getting the training for it, there is a good possibility of failure.

The second lesson is that we ultimately find our place, with or without this higher training. God sees to it, if we let Him.

There’s a prevailing view that higher education means greater success. Is it true that the more education someone has, the more successful he or she is going to be? No. Perhaps yes, but that will depend on whether you start by determining what you desire as a career, or simply go to college to find that.

Higher education is certainly beneficial, providing more options for possible careers, but it does not guarantee a successful placement in life. However, before we proceed further down this path, we will have to discuss what success actually is.

What is Success? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 5)

Last week we discussed whether a higher education meant a better chance at success.

Needless to say, industry insiders will certainly encourage you to continue to bring education money to, or spend your money at, their institution of higher learning, so there will be no end to equating more education to greater success.

There are two questions that beg asking here. The first is, what do they mean by success? The second is, who do they honestly have in mind when talking of this success!

There is a joke that often circulates within teachers’ circles that goes like this. In the school system the B students are encouraged to better themselves by going to university to learn from the A students, so that they can be qualified to work for the D student, who saw through the school charade, quit school and started a business. Ha! Ha!

This simply does not go with the thinking that a higher education means greater success, yet it may not be that far from the truth.

You must understand that school will always promote school as the only way to succeed as this translates into success for the industry, if not necessarily for you. It is also important to understand that those who went to college will measure success through their personal experience.

The “D student” shows us that success does not necessarily follow greater amounts of school. Not that the “D student” isn’t intelligent. He is just not playing within industry expectations. Success in this case is disconnected from schooling maybe, but not from learning.

An old friend of mine often said that this or that person had done well for themselves. What was his measuring stick? There are a number of things used to measure success, but since he was a high profile university professor, he measured success by titles, placements, or prestige.

For instance, in his mind, a principal had done better than a mere classroom teacher and the ultimate success within the teaching industry was reached if one “climbed” to superintendency, whether or not the individual demonstrated competence.

A lot of people measure success by the size of the pay cheque. Mathematically and financially this makes sense, but does it really translate into greater levels of success? Are the wealthy more contented?

Some, especially those who have a natural affinity for entertaining, will use fame as a measure of success. Occasionally, when not that successful on merit alone, some may even resort to notoriety as a form of being “famous” which in their eyes is success.

Yet others, and I must admit that this is hardly a good measure of anything, will deem themselves successful through the uniform required by a position. In their world, if you ranked for the uniform, be it trousers with a stripe down the leg, a special vest or a particular headdress, you have made it!

All these measures, and I am sure there are others as well, may indeed have the trappings of success, but are they really?

Is it possible that one could have a great title or placement and still not be successful? Will prestige, or fame, or some particular wardrobe do it? What about money? Surely more is… better?

While the world advances a vertical view of success where the university educated look down upon the college educated, who in turn look down on the trades and so on, God sees things differently. He has a horizontal view of importance, not based on the world’s definition of success, but on how well you use your talents. Every job or career is important to Him.

Perhaps I live a sheltered life, dealing mostly with fearfully independent people who have opted to do the job of educating their children themselves. However, in my experience, clothing, money, fame, titles, positions, prestige, or anything else, for that matter, should not be advanced as measures of success.

There is really only one thing nearly every parent desires for their child. For those who do not acknowledge God as part of their lives, happiness within a career is the measure of success.

For those who seek God in their lives, serving Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is the ultimate goal, which, incidentally, leads to happiness.

Both are saying the same thing. As mentioned before, there are only two possible careers: the right one, leading to success and happiness, or the wrong one that doesn’t.

Do you not think there are people in high places, with big titles, lots of prestige, money and fame, who should be five times successful by the world’s standards, yet who are miserable?

If we use the world’s standards to measure success, we will not likely find peace, as every measure is a comparison to someone else. There will always be those who are greater and those who are lesser than you, but there will never be another you.

You will only be happy if you are doing something that makes use of, or highlights, your strengths. You will only be happy if your career has you giving something to someone else.

Sure, you may be getting paid, maybe even paid well, but unless your day to day activities contribute to someone else’s success, your success will be shallow.

I do realize that the measure I have given you is based on faith. Perhaps the world doesn’t see it the way I do. However, let me ask you a question and you can decide for yourself what should be used to measure success.

Imagine you are on your deathbed with days, maybe hours, left to your life on earth. What do you think will be on your mind? The title you had? The placement you occupied? The prestige of your position? Your clothing, fame or fortune?

Or do you think that how you loved and served God, your spouse, your children and your fellow man, might occupy your thoughts?

If relationships are what matter at death, I can guarantee you that they are what matter in life, and likely the best measure of success there is.

If your career improves your relationship with God and others, you will be happy. If so, you are likely in the right place. This is the best measure of success.

More Bad Ideas About Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 6)

A trend is now becoming commonplace in the western world. Some folks are so adept at this “game” that a new word has been coined to describe the illness. It is called “victimology”!

This “disease” is actually a symptom of gross immaturity. People who cannot or refuse to accept responsibility for their decisions often find others to blame rather than admit error and fix it.

A classic example of this victim mentality is occasionally seen in the home education world, as well. If you are refusing to move on with life, thinking that the world owes you a living, you are deluded.

I really like what Mark Twain had to say about that. He said: “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Wise words.

If you lack ambition, you have a problem and it is not your parent’s fault. There comes a time when you need to grow up. Go talk to the mirror because that’s where the problem lies. Thinking that the world owes you anything is a bad idea.

Similarly, if you were told you did not qualify for admission to college, it is not likely because you were targeted. Either you failed to inform them of your being home educated, so alternative admission criteria could be applied, or you did not have the required prerequisite subjects, or your marks are poor.

Whatever the reason, you failed, not your parents, not the institution, nor anybody else. Blaming others for your issues is a bad idea.

Another bad idea that can cloud your judgement about your future is when you compare yourself or your choices with others.

Just be comfortable with yourself and trust that while you may not be perfect, you have made your decisions based on the best possible information, which includes: awareness of your personal characteristics, and the advice of others.

Comparing yourself with others is a bad idea.

Attending college, thinking that this will reveal your inner being and your destination, is another bad idea.

Consider that if you are not self-confident, you are susceptible to further indoctrination by the ideologically driven nature of most of the academics occupying teaching positions as well as your peers in college.

In other words, if you don’t know who you are, you may be paying others, not so much to help you find yourself or your direction, but to create their version of what they think you should be and do. Beware! This is a very bad idea!

Better to know what you want to do in the first place and to determine if institutional post-secondary training is necessary at all. Many times, you can do things without needing government approval, certification or institutional training.

As a self-taught, home educated learner, it is often much better to skip the “official” program in favour of teaching yourself what you have to learn, in order to best do what you have to do, when you need to do it. That is how we were created to learn.

However, if college is needed to get the certification necessary to do what God has created you to do, then do it.

If you are not confident with yourself, if you are lost or unsure of your attributes, you will never discover yourself or your career at college. Furthermore, it is one very expensive and potentially dangerous way to find your place in this world.

Going to college to say that you went to college is another bad idea.

Likely the most common bad idea regarding choosing a career is called “going with the flow.” This is very different from walking by faith, where you work as though it depends completely on you while trusting that God will see you through. People often plan to fail by failing to plan.

True, you have as limited a vision of the future as everyone else, but choosing a career should be an active, not a passive pursuit. To confuse lethargy with faith is also a bad idea.

Now let’s review our list of bad ideas as prescribed by a godless secular world.

– “We can be anything we want to be.” Sure, if in keeping with our positive attributes.

– “Success is based on temporal objectives with no eternal purpose.” This is limiting.

– “Higher learning guarantees success.” Not really, although higher learning can provide more options.

– “Perfection is be sought after.” Only if eternity is the goal.

– “Your failures are not your fault.” This prevents maturation.

– “One should compare oneself with others.” This prevents contentment.

– “Attending college will help you find your way.” If you are not clear as to where you are going, wait until you do know.

– “Careers will happen without being proactive.” This may be true, but will it be the right career?

I am sure there are many more bad ideas that can mislead you into your future.

Obviously, the best thing that you can do is to avoid bad ideas. This can be accomplished in two ways. One is to identify a bad idea and to avoid doing that. The other is to involve people who love you and are genuinely concerned for your wellbeing, who most likely have experienced at least some of these bad ideas and can advise you.

Everybody makes mistakes. Seek wisdom from those who have walked through this career search activity. They are likely to reveal even more bad ideas than what we have discussed here.

Planning Requires Setting a Goal: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 7)

Have you heard the old adage that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”? It’s true! Planning takes time, effort and skill.

There are four practical steps that can be taken when making plans for your future, whatever that may entail. Let’s call them the four steps for setting goals and apply them to your career plans.

The first thing is to establish what it is that you want to do. Duh! But it is critically important that you set an exact and realistic goal. Be specific.

If you want to get a car, what kind of car? A Lamborghini? Good luck. Not realistic. A midsize sedan? OK. What brand? What year? Even, what colour?

The more precise the goal, the better. An exact goal makes you focus.

Respecting careers, choosing to be a nurse or a medic or a lab tech is easier to fulfill than “hoping” to get a career in “health care.” There are no programs available for “health care,” only for specific health care related professions. Again, know exactly what you want.

Once a specific career goal has been determined, set an exact time frame in which you plan to accomplish what is reasonably necessary to fulfill your goal. “Sometime or later or one day…” rarely happen. A specific goal to be accomplished by a specific time is more doable than a “possible goal” for “sometime.”

Now that you have a goal and time frame in mind, the next step is to properly plan how you will accomplish it. That is, what do you need to do in order to get to where you want to be by the time you have determined? Call this the “vehicle” you will use to get to where you want to go.

Again, a specific goal by a specified time with a specific plan on how this will be done is much more likely to happen than being “ho hum,” apathetic, careless or presumptuous. Remember, the world owes you nothing! You have to make it happen.

Finally, the last step to effective goal setting. However, before discussing this, let me tell you that failing to take this step into consideration is the main reason people fail to realize their goals.

So, after having set an “exact goal” to be accomplished in a “reasonable time,” using a “predetermined vehicle” (manner) in which to do so, determine what you are prepared to give up in order to accomplish your goal.

Yep, you heard me right! Any and all things come at a cost and usually the one who wants to accomplish something is the one who has to pay. There are very few examples of getting something for nothing. Come to think of it, even the proverbial “free lunch” cost somebody something.

If you want to accomplish something, it is going to cost you something: maybe money, likely time, usually effort, but certainly something.

At this point in your goal setting, you have the option of demonstrating wisdom, which is to be in control of the situation, or foolishness, by letting chance decide. Let me give you another analogy to help you understand what I am trying to say.

Imagine a table that is full of water bottles, forty-eight of them, each representing half an hour. The table is completely full as is everybody’s twenty-four hours in a day. No more, no less.

Let’s say someone has a new goal that will require an additional half-hour a day. Since we are all limited to the twenty-four hours we have, something will have to go if we are to engage in this new half-hour long activity each day.

Now, there are two approaches to this problem. Most people will simply try to shove a new bottle onto the existing table.

When this approach is taken, what do you think happens? One bottle, sometimes two, maybe three, are going to fall off. There is room for only forty-eight bottles on anyone’s table of time.

If this is left up to chance, which ones do you think are going to fall off? Could it be that if chance is given control, it is the most important things that are removed or neglected, like our relationship with God, or other important duties?

How many people on their deathbed say, “I wish I had spent more time at the office?” None. What is usually said is, “I wish I had spent more time with my wife and children” or “I should have developed a deeper relationship with and lived more for the Lord.”

Consider that God is not the God of chance. He is a wise God and therefore the God of wisdom, which leaves nothing to chance. So who do you think is the “god” of chance?

Rather than foolishly giving control of your life to chance, wisdom would dictate that you choose which bottle will be replaced on your table of time.

Select which bottle or bottles, depending on the daily amount of time required to accomplish your reasonable goal, within a reasonable time.

Choose one or ones that can be discarded without harm. A little less sleep, reading, TV or gaming. Pick something that won’t negatively impact your life, but rather, improve it.

That’s called being in control. People should determine what they’re prepared to give up in order to realize their goal, even before they begin. If you don’t, it will end up costing you something you will regret having given up in the end, or more likely, will prevent you from realizing your goal at all.

Set an exact goal, to be completed in a reasonable time using a specific vehicle and don’t forget to be willing to wisely determine what you are prepared to give up to accomplish it. Do this and you will likely succeed more often than fail.

Researching Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 8)

How will you know what you are supposed to do with your life? Most young students are not only relatively clueless about this, but usually stress over it. There is no need to worry!

However, there is one thing I should remind you about before we begin today’s discussion.

You will find this admonition in Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31. To summarize, it simply says, “don’t worry, because it is a waste of time” and so “seek God and His Kingdom and He will take care of the rest”!

Still, we do need to do our part. We need to be moving so He can direct or steer us to where we will best serve Him by being who He has created us to be.

Let’s review the obvious. You will not likely choose a career that has you doing something you don’t like or can’t do. That can and does happen, but usually within a school environment in attempting to create something of you.

You have already been created, so let’s go and find out what you have been created for!

In the beginning, you will find yourself in the frustrating position of trying to find a job without having experience and not having that experience because you don’t have a job! Yuk! However, there is a way to remedy this situation.

Volunteer! Very few volunteering opportunities require prior experience, while volunteering does provide opportunity to gain some. If nothing more, it will provide a chance to demonstrate your time management skills as well as your ability to follow instructions.

Not only will you benefit the agency that you have volunteered to help, but this can provide you with insights that no textbook can provide, not to mention that coveted letter of reference that will help you find that first job.

Volunteering does not have to be in keeping with your potential career. It is simply to get you out of the house, help others, and gain work experience.

If you find “your place” by doing so, great! But know that to discover what you do not like or do well is also very instructive.

If you can get part-time work to help you demonstrate maturity and gain experience, good. Unlike volunteering, part-time work pays! Both are great ways to learn about yourself and the world you are in, even if unrelated to your ultimate life’s work.

The biggest obstacle to success is obviously doing nothing to make it happen.

You should be giving lots of thought to what you may be interested in doing, but remember that as a relatively young person, you may be afflicted with a deceptive sense of romanticism.

That is, you are likely “seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses,” and unable to clearly see everything a job or career entails. But you can take steps to reduce this natural tendency.

Once you have identified a potential occupation, conduct a comprehensive investigation of it to determine both the positive and negative aspects about it.

Record your findings towards the creation of a Career Investigation Report that you can present to your parents (this should be a project required of all senior home educating students) as well as others who may find such an effort instructive.

Had more people done this, there would be a lot less dissatisfaction with work in this world. Include all your findings, intelligently organized to clearly show you know what you are talking about.

Start your investigation by interviewing your parents and especially others who have been working in the field.

Volunteer to work in the field to get some inside experience, if possible, or find some part-time work in keeping with that occupation. This is the best way to find what it’s really all about and what is required to be able to do that job.

If volunteering is not possible, spend a day or two job-shadowing a person working within the occupation of interest. No matter what, be sure to ask lots of questions without neglecting to ask your representative what he or she does not like about the job.

Keep in mind that as long as there are people involved, which is always, you will have the relational issues or politics most often brought up as the worst part of any job. Ignore this answer, but pay special attention to all the others.

No doubt the occupation you are investigating requires some level of post-secondary training, but does this necessarily involve attending an institution of higher learning?

I strongly recommend that you only go to college if you absolutely have to. Most colleges and universities are breeding dens for anti-Christian sentiment and left-leaning indoctrination, not to mention being expensive.

If you are interested in a particular training program, you should go to the website of the institution that’s offering the program, review the institution’s calendar to familiarize yourself completely with the program of interest.

If possible, be sure to attend open houses so you can get an even more accurate perspective of what is involved. Be sure to make note of this as part of your Career Investigation Report.

We all know that an informed decision is a good one. Get informed about your occupation of interest.

Not only will this help you to better understand what interests you, but a well-documented Career Investigation Report will impress potential admission people that you are not ignorant of what it is that you want to do.

Now, get investigating!

A Few Final Thoughts About Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 9)

There is a lot that can be said when it comes to careers. There may be a million “formulas,” “directives,” “blogs” or what have you, but there is one thing I have observed. Most everyone finds something to occupy them.

If you want to be employed with a career that not only provides a living, but fulfills your need to be part of something, there is a place for you.

No doubt, you have to be searching, that is, moving forward in some way and no doubt there will be a few rabbit trails and dead ends along the way. This is not a problem. In fact, it is normal and probably a good thing, as these experiences clarify your journey and place in this world.

There has always been debate over whether life is made by faith or through works. The truth is, both are required.

I am sure you have heard the old admonition to work as though things depend on you and to pray like it all depends on God. There is a lot of truth to this, also.

One of the most difficult things to understand is how God is always in control of all things, yet He has given us the freedom to choose what it is we will do with our lives, indicating perhaps that we are actually in control.

Again, both are true. We are in charge of our lives here in this temporal world, but God controls eternal matters. Please understand that the temporal world is part of the eternal, thus putting God ultimately in control.

What is it that I am trying to say? Only that, if we do our part and actively seek His Kingdom here and now in our lives as we move towards its fulfilment, all these things are added unto us.

Like finding that special partner, it seems we eventually, somehow, find the right place in our life as well. Could that be because God is eternally in control and directing us?

I agree that it is much easier to understand this once you have lived life than when first starting. However, once there, you will look back and see that “the goodness and mercies of the Lord have followed you.” They followed you because you were the one moving towards your destiny while He directed your path.

There are only three realities in this world: ours, theirs and His. Sometimes we get confused as to whose reality we are living in. Is this my idea? Is this God’s idea? Have I been unduly influenced by others? Yes. Yes. And yes! All are connected.

All you can do is to do something. In fact, all you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough. I wish I could claim to have invented that statement, but I didn’t. It is wisdom that has been handed down for millennia. Meditate on this.

Transitioning into the adult world does entail a lot of things. We may be making a mistake when we search for a career. Should we not be searching for our place in this world instead?

Careers are, unfortunately, tied to the question of how we will make money. What if our place is actually not primarily about how “I” will be successful but about how “I” will help others to be successful? Being part of a bigger thing is better than being the only thing.

Careers, as the world defines them, leave out service. Careers are “me” centred, while service is “other” centred. When focusing on careers rather than our place of service, we miss what really matters.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Even though I normally taught Biology in school, I had to teach my share of the “not-so-glamorous” courses such as Science 14 or 24.

These were courses designed for students who had no interest or aptitude for science and so were not that much fun to teach, unless of course, you determined to minister to the individual rather than indoctrinate the masses.

In advancing relationships as more important than the science content, I provided the students opportunity to be comfortable with who they were rather than to be burdened with the idea that they were stupid because they did not “get” biology or chemistry or physics.

Having a fairly good rapport with my students, I could get a little closer in their personal lives. I was, therefore, just a bit surprised by the answer I got from a 19 year-old female student who was taking my class to complete requirements for her diploma.

Knowing that she was about to graduate and move on in life, I had asked her what she intended to do after graduation. She did not want to tell me.

Having a closer relationship with her as she was more mature than the average in the class, I was perplexed by her answer.

After having pursued the answer several times, I finally asked why she did not want to share this information with me. When she answered that I would laugh at or make fun of her, I quickly informed her that I was not in the habit of belittling anyone.

After much cajoling, she finally answered my query.

My heart broke when she informed me that all she wanted to do was get married, have a bunch of children and be a homemaker. And the world she was in was laughing or belittling her because she did not aspire to some romantic or glamorous career. What a travesty of truth!

There is no higher, no more fulfilling occupation for a woman than to be a homemaker for her husband and family. Indeed, this is more important to the survival of humanity than any other career.

I wanted to end with this story because I wanted to be sure to make the point that it is okay to be and to do what God puts in your heart.

Regardless of how you spend your life, the more you spend of yourself on others, the more fulfilled you will be. How this looks for you is between you and God, but there is no place where someone is not in need of what you have to offer.

Careers are okay. To pursue a career is okay. To feel like you have to somehow be active in the world is correct. Just do not let the world dictate how this will be done.

Follow your heart. Do what you want. Do it as unto the Lord.

Let Me Show You A Better Way: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 10)

Life can be, indeed often is, confusing. We often mix up the right and wrong things, coming up with hybrid ideas that are neither good nor bad, but mediocre.

Knowing this is important. We want to avoid being mediocre as nothing is accomplished other than restricting one’s full potential.

Mediocrity is the objective of the enemy whose modus operandi is simply “anything but the truth.” This translates into anything that will avoid the success that we have already defined as being truly worthwhile, which is how we serve others.

When addressing the Laodicean Church in the second chapter of Revelation, the Lord detested mediocrity. He would that we be either hot or cold rather than lukewarm, as those specializing in neither are useless or mediocre.

Again, never settle for less than your best, even going so far as challenging yourself to stretch. That is when God can also do His best. However, I will not hide the fact that doing so can be daunting.

Many years ago, when I first determined to live my life for Jesus, I was frustrated by all the things I thought I needed to do in order to live a fulfilling Christian life.

When I shared this frustration with an older brother, he asked me for an example of what I was struggling with. When I cited the Beatitudes, he informed me of the fact that these were “be” attitudes, not “do” attitudes! This statement changed my life!

Similarly, a career is much more a matter of being than of doing. People “doing” things that they are not enjoying is a sure formula for “being” unhappy and discontented in their careers.

The following excerpt of a statement made by Chuck Swindoll in one of his “Insights For Living” does a very good job of clarifying this for us:

… “Doing is usually connected with a vocation or career, how we make a living. Being is much deeper. It relates to character, who we are, and how we make a life. Doing is tied in closely with activity, accomplishments, and tangible things—like salary, prestige, involvements, roles, and trophies.

Being, on the other hand, has more to do with intangibles, the kind of people we become down inside, much of which can’t be measured by objective yardsticks and impressive awards. Of the two, being will ultimately outdistance doing every time. It may take half a lifetime to perfect…but hands down, it’s far more valuable…and lasting…and inspiring. That is what is meant by success.

Believing in the authority of holy Scripture, knowing and loving God, bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, committing ourselves to others, and becoming people of genuine encouragement. Such traditions (there are others, of course) are valuable absolutes that keep us from feeling awash in a world of relativism and uncertainty.

Clearly, my position is on the side of openness, allowing room for the untried, the unpredictable, the unexpected—all the while holding fast to the truth. Believe me, there are plenty of people around who feel it is their calling to tell others what to do and what to say. They are self-appointed wing-clippers who frown on new ways and put down high flight. They work hard to “squeeze you into their mould.”…

Well said. But just as important as not aiming high enough is the potential for aiming too high which invites “frustration,” or going in the wrong direction, which invites “discontentment”.

Being comfortable with yourself as being part of a particular career is your ultimate goal. However, being uncertain about your future requires faith that we will be “steered” in the right direction, and once again we need to understand that God sees to this if we are doing our part.

Let me give you an example that you will be sure to understand.

Children often sit behind the steering wheel in a vehicle, pretending to turn the wheel and pushing all kinds of buttons, acting as though they are really going places. But they are going nowhere because the vehicle isn’t moving. It cannot be steered or directed.

Similarly, God can only steer or direct people if they are moving, that is, making an effort to find their place.

Careers is one of my least favourite topics because I have a tendency to sound a bit schizophrenic or double-minded. On the one hand, I encourage students to trust God with their future and on the other I encourage them to make it happen.

Laying around expecting God to do something about your life is about as productive as steering a parked car. Just as foolish, is running ahead of God into a future you know nothing about.

Nobody gets in a vehicle with the objective of finding out where they are going once they get there. Be wise, have a well-researched and exact plan as you drive to your destination in life, using God as your GPS.

The best made plans are soaked in prayer, proceeded with caution and studied circumspectly. Move, so God can steer you.