Practical Steps for Planning Your Future Beyond High School
Even if you don’t have a plan yet!
What Happens Next After you don the graduation suit, walk the stage, get the diploma, and throw the hat… what comes next? If you’re someone who hasn’t quite yet made a decision about what’s coming next in life after high school, it can be a scary time. All around you, your friends are talking about which dorm decorations they’re going to buy, what new college t-shirts they have coming in the mail, and how excited they are about summer orientation. Meanwhile, you’re still trying to figure out exactly where you’re going next. First of all, we want you to know that you aren’t alone. All around the country there are thousands of other students who are going through the same uncertainty you are facing, unsure of what to do next. Whether you didn’t get accepted into the college you really wanted to attend, or if you aren’t sure what you should study, or you don’t know that you want to go to college at all—that’s okay. We’re here to talk you through some valuable steps that you can take to make the most of the next few weeks and set your life on the right path for your future. Be Encouraged We often think of God’s plan for our lives as a prescribed path or a tangible earthly goal—both things that are easy to follow and easy to achieve. But the truth is—there will be twists and turns! While He is sovereign and does guide us, God’s main focus is to make us godlier and to develop our character. But the ways in which that happens and takes place are so vastly different from one person to the next. So, resist the urge to compare your current life situation to someone else’s! During this time, God is trying to teach us to trust Him. Sometimes seasons of uncertainty are actually the most purposeful ones—the ones where God is most present. The next time you find yourself confused as to why your life is going the way it is, take a deep breath, step back, and reflect on these verses for comfort: Philippians 1:6 | Psalm 27:13 | Deuteronomy 7:9 Know that God truly is in control, and He has your BEST interests at heart. Give Him control and get ready to see your life change like never before!
Easy Lies to Believe
When you’re stuck in an uncertain or scary season, it can seem like everyone has a piece of advice for you. And right now, you’re probably getting confusing information from all sides of information that conflicts or goes against what you just heard from someone else. So, we’re here to settle a few key myths that you might be hearing or even telling yourself right now.
Lie: You should have it all figured out. Truth: It’s okay to NOT have it all figured out. The truth is that no one has it figured out. Life is a journey, with lots of twists and turns. Even if people think they have it figured out now, that will change. People in their 20s, 30s, and, yes, even your parents are still figuring it out as they go. Rather than letting the external pressure from parents, friends, and family who are constantly asking you what’s next overload you, take a step back and respectfully ask those around you to give you some space to figure it out. It’s also important to keep in mind that most people ask questions simply because they care and they believe in you. Try to resist feeling pressured by those conversations.
Lie: It’s all up to YOU to figure it out. Truth: Worry doesn’t achieve anything.
Let’s be honest – even if no one else is putting pressure on you to make a decision, it can be easy to feel that pressure within yourself. You wonder if you’re behind in life, if you’ll ever be successful, or there’s something wrong with you. Society tends to put certain expectations or timelines on us, but the truth is that there is no standard. Everybody is different. Some people are born knowing what they want to do; other people have five different career paths – all of which might be right for them at the time. Some people become YouTube stars by age 20; some people spend a lifetime building their legacy. Everyone has their own path they have to take. What’s more important are the lessons learned along the way. How you find your path is what makes you uniquely you. And you WILL be ok; you have plenty of time to figure it out.
Lie: Obsessively worrying about what’s to come is normal. Truth: Worry doesn’t achieve anything. At its core, worry is an attempt at control; we want to control our circumstances rather than trusting God. There is a reason the Bible says not to worry time and time again. It does us no good. It creates anxiety, but it doesn’t actually change any circumstances or produce any results. Worry can cloud your vision and make you miserable. “Don’t worry” is one of those things that is easier said than done, but trying to fight it when it creeps up is such an important thing to do! Here are a few things you can do when worry starts creeping in: • Read, memorize, and recite these verses: Philippians 4:6-7, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 14:27, and Psalms 55:22. • Talk to someone you trust. • Go for a run (or another physical activity you enjoy doing) to work your stress out. • Volunteer or serve somewhere. Making yourself useful during a time of uncertainty can help you feel a sense of purpose in the midst of it all.
Lie: I need to always have a plan for the future and think one step ahead. Truth: There’s no time like the present. Sometimes, we spend so much time thinking about what’s next that we completely lose sight of the present moment. Life is what’s happening right now. Tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed. Don’t focus so much on thinking ahead or chasing a dream that you lose opportunities to engage in life NOW. We want to encourage you to remember that the season you’re in right now is unique – with its own lessons, memories, sweet moments, relationships, struggles, and perks. Embrace it. Live it to its fullest. It won’t last forever. Lie: I have to have it all figured out before I can start moving forward. Truth: You only need to know your first step. We often feel like we have to see the whole picture or know the end result to take the first step. But often, God only reveals to us the next step we’re supposed to take, without always showing us where it leads. He wants us to trust Him in each and every step of the way, while also trusting He has the big picture in His hands. While this can be scary, it can also be freeing. Instead of asking the huge questions or trying to figure out the rest of your life – which can often lead to being paralyzed by fear or uncertainty – start asking yourself what you ARE certain about, right now, in this moment, and act on what you do know.
The rest often unfolds once we take that first step of faith.
Worksheet Magic We know it’s difficult to figure out what’s next—especially when it comes to making a choice about what’s next after high school graduation. Sometimes it’s best to start small and think through the things you enjoy doing, what goals you have, and what items are important to you. Outlining those can sometimes point to a clearer path as you get started planning for your future. And remember, through it all, pray and ask for God’s guidance and wisdom and for clarity to make sense of the confusion. He hears you and cares for you!
• What are your passions? What makes you feel energized and excited?
• What do you dislike? What tasks, subjects, or chores make you unhappy or drain your energy?
• What unique skills do you have?
• What are you interested in learning more about?
• What causes do you care about? What injustices do you want to see made right? What Gospel purposes do you want to achieve?
• What are you interested in learning more about?
• What are your values?
• What things are most important to you in life? (faith, family, friendships, freedom, travel, education, ministry, etc.)
• What are your deal breakers? (things you would not be okay doing)
• Are there any things that you would always regret not doing?
Our hope is that by completing this brief worksheet, you’ll begin to identify some talents and passions that you can pursue in creative ways to follow the calling that God has placed on your life. No matter what shape that takes or how the specifics change over the course of your life, you can remain grounded and confident in knowing your values, your passions, and the truth of Scripture. Once you think you have a decision or direction in place, consider these follow-up questions.
• Is this choice in line with Scripture? Does this choice violate anything in Scripture?
• Does this decision help you grow in faith? Does this decision push you away from God in any way?
• Does this decision make a positive difference in the lives of others?
God makes our next step crystal clear. Sometimes He gives us multiple options, and lets us choose. In those situations, you can feel confident in the choice you make if you know that the choice aligns with Scripture, grows your faith, and positively impacts others. Sometimes...
The Word of Life Bible Institute
We like to think that the Word of Life Bible Institute is a pretty great next step, especially for students who are unsure of what they want to study, where they are being called to, and what they want their future to look like. A year at the Word of Life Bible Institute gives you the chance to dive deep into God’s Word, grow your faith, and seek HIS calling on your life. You don’t have to have your five-year plan figured out in order to attend the Word of Life Bible Institute. In fact, you don’t need to have anything figured out! That’s why the Word of Life Bible Institute exists: to give you a safe place surrounded by fellow believers to figure out just exactly what it is that God is calling you toward. And if after one year, you’re still unsure, you can come back for our second year program! No matter how uncertain everything else is, your faith is the one thing that is certain. Building your life on that foundation will set you up for whatever the future holds.
Here’s just a glimpse of what you get at the Word of Life Bible Institute:
• Discipleship-driven teaching with weekly chapel and worship services • Engaged faculty and staff available to students 24/7 • Inclusive community with 95% of students living on campus • One on one discipleship – over 50% of the student body is engaged in staff-to-student discipleship
• One-, two- and four-year programs available • Accredited by Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools • Transferable coursework with one year equaling a minor • 67 guest lectures from prominent Christian thought leaders, pastors and authors • Leadership training and opportunities • 25+ ministry programs with multiple opportunities to serve nationally and internationally
Curious to learn more about the Word of Life Bible Institute? Visit wordoflife.edu for more information.
We’re saving a seat just for you!
PO Box 600 | Schroon Lake, NY 12870
Wordoflife.edu | 518.494.6000
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