This time of year is incredibly exciting for so many reasons. Between summer being right around the corner and school getting out soon, there’s an endless amount of celebration and joy to be had. This is the perfect representation of how I feel personally:
And like this too:
As I get ready to graduate college, move to a new place, and go back to adulting, it’s almost natural to look back at the past few years that have led me to today and examine them. In the past, I’ve given lists of things that soon-to-be high school grads should do, ways to get the most out of college, and other pieces of advice to succeed in life, mainly because I’ve lived those instances and wanted to help others out.
Today, however, I’m going to try something different.
Let’s talk about the unknown a little bit. Let’s explore ways to get the most of out the situations that you have no clue how they’re going to turn out.
Lists are my jam, so here’s my list of the best ways to handle the future when you’re not sure what’s next.
1. Keep the main thing the main thing.
We all have our priorities. In most cases, our priorities fall into the same categories: faith, occupation, relationships, life goals, etc. Our list of non-negotiable options informs our decisions, maps our life courses, and determines what our lives will ultimately be like. We stake our lives on our priorities. So, my biggest piece of advice is predictable if you know me: your faith in God needs needs to remain the driving factor of every other priority in your life. Without faith, we truly have nothing to hope for in life. Without faith, everything else is meaningless. Keeping faith in Christ no matter what is the only way that the future can be bright and hopeful.
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Most of the time, when we want to grow and mature, the natural choice is to be serious and determined, putting away what we deem as childish and adolescent. We take everything way too seriously, and lose our sense of fun and sense of child-like enjoyment. By living a light-hearted, joy-filled lifestyle where we understand the divide between being serious and having fun, we end up getting the most out of our future and end up living a life in which other people want to take part and witness.
3. Be flexible.
Don’t get me wrong, I live and die by the calendar. I have to have this sort of structure in my life or else I’ll waste my days watching Netflix and laying in my Eno hammock, watching the clouds go by without a care in the world. But, there’s a balance between living a structured life and a spontaneous life that leads to a beautiful sense of flexibility. Someone once told me, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” I have my priorities planned out in my everyday life, like my work schedule, my volunteer activities, and other important events, but otherwise, I do what I can to live a life that allows me to fly by the seat of my pants at times, creating variety and healthy irregularity.
4. Take your time.
As I get older, I realize that time is ticking. The clock is winding down on things like marriage, vocational decisions, and things like the “five-year plan.” It’s a harsh reality that won’t go away. But, I can dwell on the fact that I’m not where some people my age are and be frustrated, or I can rejoice in the fact that I’m not rushing into situations where God never wanted me in the first place. Life isn’t necessarily about the destination; we’re all going to end up somewhere when we die, whether heaven or not. Life is more about the journey, experiencing the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of how everything happens. So take your time, and make sure you’re sure.
5. Don’t settle.
It’s possible that this piece of advice and the last piece could be combined into a more condensed idea. However, there’s something separate about not settling that begs more detail. Sometimes, there’s a situation that comes up that looks appealing, even though it’s ultimately not exactly what we want. Maybe a member of the opposite sex is interested in you and the feelings aren’t exactly reciprocated, there’s a job that opens up that isn’t completely what you want to do in life, or you’re offered an opportunity that is less than what you were hoping for. You could entertain that relationship even though you know full well that you’re 100% interested in someone else (who may not feel the same way just yet), you could take the job (even though there’s a job that’s opening up in a few months that’s the perfect fit), or you could take the opportunity (even though you know that you don’t want it all that much). Settling happens when you let fear seep into your life that what God wants for you won’t come, so you take matters into your own hands. Ecclesiastes 3:11a says that God “has made everything beautiful in His time.” Don’t be afraid to wait; God’s timing is perfect, and His best will come for you, so don’t settle.
6. Follow your dreams.
Within us is the desire to live out a story that is unique to our own lives, that no other person can ever live because it’s our own. But, society tells us that our dreams aren’t attainable, and that we need to be more realistic and do something more normal. I listened to those voices at one time. I let what I thought was my dream of working in music be overshadowed by working in ministry, not fully realizing that my dream was to do ministry within the music industry. I put my dream on the back-burner, and while I loved every minute of where I worked and what I did, I knew that I was meant to do something different. Your dreams may not bring in the top dollar, and they may not make sense to others, but when you love what you do, it doesn’t matter how much you make or who approves; God will provide because He placed that dream within you for a reason.
7. Be yourself.
I feel like this is kinda self-explanatory. I won’t say much on this, because you know that authenticity and honesty is the best policy. Don’t be someone you’re not. It takes way more energy to craft a fake story than just live out your own and be who God has made you to be.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There’s this perception that being an adult and being mature means being self-sufficient. That’s the furthest from the truth. We can’t do life alone. We can’t make it into the future without the help of others walking side-by-side with us and taking this journey together. There are something in our desired field that we just can’t do, and that others around us can, and we have to swallow our pride and ask for help. Being isolated will only destroy us from the inside out, so when it comes to life, ask for people to help you.
9. Put yourself out there.
This could take on different meanings. In every area of life, there are times when we sometimes have to take that leap of faith and hope that people welcome us and receive us well. We put ourselves out there in the dating scene, asking that guy or girl you think is cute to grab some coffee or get to know each other. Otherwise, we sit in the corner staring at them, hoping THEY’ll make the first move when we know full well that we know what we want. Babe Ruth, yes THAT Babe Ruth, once said, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” He was right. Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing what you want. You’re going to fail, and that’s okay. Failure sometimes is just a part of life, and it’s a closed door leading you to the right one that’s open.
10. Don’t forget where you came from.
Life takes us on some amazing journeys. We get incredible opportunities to “make it big” and go places we never could’ve imagined. But, if we aren’t humble about it, our pride will be our downfall. Remember that you’re only who you are with God’s help, and you couldn’t have gotten to where you are today without God’s help and the help of your close friends and family.
I’m still figuring out this whole future thing. I still don’t even know if I’ll have a job in Nashville. But, I know if I keep these things in mind, I won’t have a problem living the story that God has for me.
What advice would you give for the future?