Trust me, you don’t need a life plan.

In high school and college, I heard lots of talk from friends and teachers about “having a life plan.” Five-year, 10-year, 15-year plans: Career moves, marriage, children, whatever it was you wanted in life, you needed to have a clear set of goals to get there. Everybody stressed the importance of having a predetermined path to get to a specific place where you thought you wanted to be.

Over and over again, I’ve seen friends who couldn’t meet the goals outlined in their “life plans” and suffered great anxiety and disappointment because of it.

Through the course of my job, I’ve had the privilege to interview a large number of people who have been deemed “successful” by the world at large: company CEOs, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, athletes, coaches, television personalities, etc. People who have reached the top of their field, according to those around them. And I’ve started to see a common thread running through all my interviews.

They didn’t have a “life plan.” They didn’t follow a set of goals to get to where they are today. In many cases, they aren’t even in the fields they intended to be in and wound up where they are largely by happy accident.

Bill Rhodes, president and CEO of AutoZone, was hired into his first auditing job (which later led directly to his AutoZone position) not because of his auditing skills, but because that company had an interdepartmental golf challenge each year, and Rhodes was an all-star college golfer.

He is CEO today, ultimately, because he could hit a golf ball. (He’s an excellent leader and has done great things for that company, but we’re just focusing on the beginning steps here.)

Houston Gordon, a nationally-recognized trial lawyer, took the exam to go to law school because his friends were taking it, and he happened to have enough money to pay the exam fee. Then, while in law school, he joined the National Moot Court Team because a friend saw a flyer and wanted to try out. He didn’t even know what the word “moot” meant! (Told me that himself earlier this week.)

His experience on that team led directly to a position with the Army JAG Corps in the ’70s, during which time he served as primary defense lawyer for Lt. William Calley, a case well-known by those who grew up in the Vietnam era. That case in turn changed him from a tax lawyer to a trial lawyer, and he went on to change the national laws and procedures for half-a-dozen different legal charges. He’s consistently named one of the top-100 trial lawyers in the country, is the winner of dozens of awards and is highly sought-after by clients all over the nation.

No life plan. Just enough money in the bank to take the law school aptitude test.

So I’ve come to this conclusion: having a set “life plan” probably holds us back from many things. Houston Gordon intended to be a professional basketball player. Think of how different the legal world would be if he’d been successful on that path.

I think it is of more benefit to teach our high school and college students to have a good enough educational, spiritual, physical and emotional foundation to be able to accept new opportunities when they come and take the chances that may be offered along the way. Who knows, maybe the person who could have cured cancer ended up teaching mathematics at a high school somewhere because that was his/her original “life goal” and he/she never even considered any other field.

Be open to change. Don’t fear opportunity. Maybe taking life by the horns is the best way to get where you’re truly meant to go.

Happy weekend,

The Missus

 

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Who’s talking to you?

Our home congregation here just finished a short gospel meeting with Mr. Sidney White from Florida. His lessons each night were well-presented, however there was one statement in particular that really stuck in my head.

I forget the exact context of this example, but he gave the example of a young college girl that once came to their house in tears over a break-up. She told him and his wife that she had dated several young men and nothing had worked out. She felt that “maybe God was trying to tell her something.”

In response, he asked her,

“Have you ever thought maybe Satan is trying to tell you something?”

He went on to wonder if maybe Satan weren’t trying to tell this young girl – and all young people like her – to lower her standards, settle for less than the best, and look for a mate who might not have the Christian values she was looking for.

Mr. White said, “Sometimes we give God credit for things He doesn’t do.” God wants us to hold on and wait for the good things He has promised for those who obey Him. Satan wants you to give up early and settle for being just short of the goal.

So I know I’m still very young and relatively newly-married, but I would like to say this to those out there who are still looking (and yes, that includes those who might be engaged, because engagements can be broken but marriage is forever):

Hold on to the picture of a Godly spouse found in the Bible and have the strength to wait for him or her. Don’t settle for less because you fear being alone longer than society says is acceptable. It is better to wait than to find yourself yolked to a spouse who will not help you get to Heaven. That voice you hear sometimes, telling you that your standards are too high and you need to relax a little, or that no one else will ever love you if you give this person up, or that you’re getting too old to wait any longer and might as well go for it… that is not the voice of God. That is the voice of Satan, and he wants you to miss out on the joys of a strong Christian marriage and the help of a Godly spouse to get you and your children to Heaven. That is not to say that marriages to non-Christians never work; there are too many examples to the contrary to say that. But you do enter into what could be years of struggle and heartache and hurt until that conversion occurs, and even those who are strong going in run the risk of losing themselves along the way. Be careful, singles. Marriage is not just a pretty ring and social media congratulations and pinterest decorations and professional photos. It’s forever, and that’s a really long time to settle for less than what God has intended for you – which, by the way, is more and different from what you have intended for yourself.

And to those who aren’t looking for spouses anymore, but hear that voice in your head about other things – to accept that job, even though it will take you away from your family and from church services; to sleep in this Sunday morning because you don’t want to wake the kids; to skip church tonight because it’s too cold outside; to lower your standards of integrity and honesty to make a few extra dollars that “won’t hurt anybody”… that is not the voice of God. We must all learn to recognize that voice for who it really is, and for what he is really trying to do. Don’t give credit where credit isn’t due.