Friday, January 21, 2005

Making Decisions And Time Management

In my career I have often counseled those who have worked with me what their next steps could or should be. I think often people just need to bounce some ideas off people and look for reactions. In my own walk with the Lord I have not always been encouraged with appropriate advise. In my teen years I had a lot of hopes and dreams to which my parents could not relate. As an adult, my dreams have at times been so big and grandiose that they were not achievable, off beat things to which others could not relate. I am a visionary. It is both a gift and a great weakness at the same instance. In my forties, I am regrouping and becoming a visionary who has become refined by the trial of forging new paths, both successes and failures. By the way, success is sometime more difficult to handle than failure.

As I went running earlier this week I listened to an NPR program on woman who was changing her career from accounting to belly dancer. She had been belly dancing as a hobby for quite some time and when she discussed her desire to dance full time with a friend of hers said, "You are not married, you don't have children, and you have a degree so your always able to get a job. Go pursue your dream." Her risks in life were low and she wanted to dance. I'm not sure I would want my daughters dancing. (Okay, I do NOT want men to gawk at my five daughters.) But I think her friend is right that one should pursue one's dreams. It was also right to point out that the young lady had good prospects even if things did not work out. She could afford risk.

Tuesday I attended a college orientation with my 17-year-old daughter. I was listening to a guidance counselor discuss academic programs and goals with young people. (By the way, I kept mum.) The woman told the students that most students change their major and so don't be worried if you don't know what you want to be. In one sense I totally agree with her. Getting a degree in say teaching is not a jail sentence to teach school the rest of your life. Getting a degree does not mean that a capable young man can not join the infantry. Getting a degree does not mean that a woman is obligated to work outside the home. But the flip side of her statement I find somewhat disturbing. If a young person has some interpersonal conflict, a drive to decide what they want to do, it might be a good thing. They need some emotional energy and purpose to get them through the decision cycle. Also, in a very real sense, if the young person does not make some decisions, he can be wasting his time and money fishing for a major long past a logical point of decision.

Another issue is a young person needs to talk about what she wants and desires and then to get appropriate advise from peers, teachers, relatives and parents. Often others can see the obvious answers that are hidden to the person making the decision. Advice is funny though. It is not always helpful. In my own walk, I have sought advice and sometimes it was helpful. At other times I have received advise that really would have worked for someone else with different gifts and callings. It is not unusual for me to get unsolicited advice where the person is trying to fix my flaws. I do have some unusual strength and weaknesses and conventional wisdom does not always work for me. Then sometimes I have received good encouragement. I would encourage you to help your young people to think about their gifts and callings. They need to see what others see as their potential.

Time is short, even for the young. Their resources are short. Soon they will have little time to prepare for the future for it is here. Allowing them to wonder unnecessarily is not a blessing; it is a waste of youth. (Of course, young people will have to learn by trial and error somewhat; changing majors once they find that they do not have a passion or aptitude for a course of study.) However, justifying their indecision serves mainly to sooth the conscience of those who are supposed to help them find their field of study. The logic is that we do not have to solve a problem if it does not exist. But then again, removing a conflict is not always a good thing. As the parable goes, if a butterfly is not allowed to struggle to get out of its cacoon, it will never be able to fly and use its wings. The conflict of the emerging from the cacoon forces the fluids through the wings giving them strength and form.

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