Monthly Archives: November 2013

What Are You Made To Do?

   Today I helped someone.  It felt good. I work at a non-profit organization and my main job is to help individuals recognize and reach their vocational goals. It’s what I do every day, so you would assume I help people all day long. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen as often as I would like, at least it doesn’t feel like it. In fact, quite often I spend a lot of my time pushing and prodding individuals to reach for their full potential rather than walking along side of them as I would much prefer.  

Today was different.

Enter Jay:

Jay had a history of drug abuse. He had spent a good part of his youth “stoned out of his mind” as he so affectionately put it. He admitted to me that he hadn’t learned a lot of the things he knew he should have known when it comes to working and figuring out how to get a job. He’d worked before, mostly in fast food restaurants or retail stores, but he couldn’t remember for the life of him how he got those jobs. He didn’t even remember how he lost them. Drugs had literally caused him to lose a few years of his life. Those years were nothing more than fragments of memories.

After getting involved with a church and becoming a Christian; something he couldn’t talk enough about, Jay put down the drugs for good and started the long hard work of putting his life back together. He was willing to do the work and had been hitting the streets looking for a job when he met with me.

Jay had a problem though. All of the businesses he had met with wanted him to fill out applications online and take online pre-employment exams. Jay didn’t have a clue how to create an online profile or a resume. He didn’t know how to find the exams he needed to take online. He was lost.

I was able to help Jay in less than an hour. It was easy. I offered support and guidance as he created the documents he needed and submitted the appropriate information to potential employers.  He took the exams and did wonderfully.  As he left my office, he already had one of the employers on the phone and was setting up an interview for later that day. He was on top of the world.

My Calling:

What Jay didn’t know was that he had actually helped me far more than I helped him. Today Jay gave me the opportunity to do what I was made to do. I felt energized and more alive after that meeting. Whatever your calling is, or whatever it may become; make sure that it puts life into you rather than takes it out.

My calling is to help others; I learned that at a fairly early age. How I help others (think career) has evolved and changed throughout my life, but my calling remains the same.   What is your calling? What makes you come to life? Olympic athlete Eric Liddell put it beautifully in this simple quote: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Your Calling:

Again I ask, what is your calling? Do you have one? Think about the last 6 months and share something you did that made you feel alive. What are you made to do?

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How Do You Choose A Major?

 

College

Choosing a major can be an exciting and nerve wracking time, but the earlier you start thinking about it the better.   I would encourage you to think about it slightly differently than most of your fellow students.

The normal thought process:

“I know I need to go to college.  That means I need to pick a major soon, or I could just go undeclared. But, what major should I choose? Should I pick something that has a lot of options so I can figure it out later? There’s no way that I’m going to know now what I want to do for the rest of my life so I probably should go general and focus on something later when I have a better idea of what I want to do. By the time I graduate college I should have a good idea of what that is.”  

The weird thought process:

“Where do I want to be in 5 years? What job do I want to have or what business do I want to be running? What do I what my life to look like? How much money do I want to be making? What do I need to do to get there?  Is spending money on college absolutely necessary for me to get there? Will the return on investment be worth it? If it is then what do I need to know or what degree is required for that position?”

The fundamental difference between the two thought processes is that one starts with where you are and looks forward. The other starts with where you want to be and looks backwards. The latter is significantly more effective. Hindsight is 20/20 after all; and though you are not actually looking in hindsight you are effectively doing the same thing.

Colleges are a lot like car lots.  Some people go without knowing what they want. They see a lot of pretty shiny cars and after a little time with a good salesman they find themselves in a brand new sports car. It’s fun and exciting at first, but usually ends with buyer’s remorse. It all happened so quickly! They realize about 6 months, and 6 car payments later, that maybe they should have researched a little better.

The people who leave the car lot the happiest are those who knew what they wanted before they ever got there. It’s simple for them. They walk on the lot; look and see if the dealer has the car they want within the price range they set, if not they leave. If it does, then they buy it. Simple. Smart. Weird.

You need to know beforehand what you want.  The colleges you apply for should be based on what major you have chosen and the major you have chosen should be based on what your career is going to be.  Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards looking at everything you need to do along the way to get there.

Passion, Talent, and Economic Model:

The major you choose should absolutely be something you are passionate about, have some level of talent at, and have a clear plan to make money with.  It has to be all three. I’ll say that again. It has to be all three.  It doesn’t matter how much you love art history, if you don’t a have a legitimate plan in place to make money with it don’t major in it.  If you stink at math going into college, don’t major in accounting hoping you’ll get better; and no matter what you do, don’t choose a major based on what you think will be most profitable unless you really like the respective field.

Remember:

A fulfilling and profitable vocation is made up of three things: passion, talent, and an economic model. Before you even think about choosing a major, you need to have a plan for your future career path that addresses all three of those areas.

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Decisions: Part 2

Every day we are faced with countless decisions that will alter our path in some way or another. I recently read an article that stated the average person makes over 5,000 conscious decisions a day. That’s almost 2 million choices a year. We weigh these decisions differently of course and make the majority of them in a split second. Some of these choices we look at as insignificant and others as life altering, depending on the person.

Take getting dressed in the morning for example. When I pick out what I’m going to wear in the morning it takes me about 10 seconds. Literally, 10 seconds, and 5 of those 10 seconds are groggily spent trying to find the closet door in the dark. Obviously, I don’t place a lot of value in this area and thus, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. There are however, those of you that place a lot of value on what you wear each day and go to great lengths to perfect your style and make a statement with your appearance.

Chuck Taylors

The vast majority of the decisions you make over the course of your life will have a relatively small impact on its outcome.  Captain Crunch or Cheerios, Chuck Taylors or Air Jordans, skim or 1% milk; regardless of your choices, in most areas your life you will keep going down a certain path.

However, there are some pretty big choices you will make that can and will significantly alter the path you find yourself on. The following are some (not all) of those big life changing decisions, placed in the order in which a lot of you (but not all of you) will face them. In fact, you may and probably will find yourself faced with some of these decisions multiple times in your life.

  1. Your decision on hobbies and extracurricular activities
  2. Your decision on spirituality/religion
  3. Your decision on education after high school
  4. Your decision on a career path
  5. Your decision on where you will live
  6. Your decision about a spouse
  7. Your decision about family

The first three, possibly four, life changing decisions you will make can take place while you are still in high school. Let that sink in. Over half of the life changing decisions you will make in your life can be made before you graduate high school.  Imagine your life as a book and you are writing the table of contents right now. You have the rest of your life to fill in the details, but the core content, the outline, you are putting into place today.

You are currently making the decisions that you will be living out for the rest of your life.

Your decisions matter.

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