Friends and family want to know The Plan. "What are you going to do with your life?"
As students approach graduation, this question looms large. Maybe you remember the pressure. Maybe you're feeling it right now. Maybe your students are neck deep in it.
Maybe you have a plan, a job or school lined up. You can answer the question ... kind of.
But knowing your next step isn't the same as knowing what you're going to do with your life. A next step isn't a life plan. A first job isn't a career.
"What are you going to do with your life?" is actually two questions: "What are you going to do with your life?" and "What are you going to do next?"
We forget this so easily. And this forgetting comes at a price.
1) We fail to enjoy the Now
Lumping the questions together and trying to load the weight of your whole life on your next step causes us to miss out on the Now. For college students, the last weeks of school should be filled with celebration, with adventures, with friends ... not with nail-biting and navel-gazing and the pressure to make the perfect next step.
2) We fail to make wise next steps
When we devalue the next step, lumping it in with everything else, we find ourselves justifying taking foolish next steps. "I'm taking this horrible job to get my foot in the door" or "I'm going to this school because it's a good career move, even though it's a bad fit for me personally." Foolishness often disguises itself as delayed gratification.
3) We fail to continue learning
Learning doesn't end at graduation. You don't throw your mortar-board into the air and find yourself fully formed. Your job after graduation or job-search represent learning opportunities, not rails for your career. Treat your first job like it also has to be your last job and you'll find yourself really frustrated.
4) We fail to focus on the main things
"What are you going to do with your life?" should be a bigger question than "Now that you've finished school, what's your next step?" Your life is more than your next step, more than your career.
What are you going to do? Start a family? Be creative? Love God?
What would happen if you separated "What are you going to do next?" from "What are you going to do with your life?"
And, really, doesn't that temptation to lump the two questions together continue past graduation