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.

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!

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.

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.

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.