The other day a friend and I were talking about how after high school graduation, the future seems like an open horizon of amazing opportunities. You press forward through multiple years of college, dreaming of the day you’ll receive your diploma, that golden ticket to “real life.” Finally, the big day comes: the diploma is in your hands!
Often it’s at this point many of us get caught in a rut. There are bills to pay. A full-time job leaves little time for pursuing interests. The achievements of high school and college fade farther and farther into the victories of the past.
Before I had the privilege of staying home with my son, I worked in the banking industry. I loved being in banking, and I had goals of climbing the corporate ladder. However, in the time I’ve been home, I’ve had more opportunities to work toward my goals and dreams than I ever did during my decade in the banking industry. Amazingly, there are ways you can create awesome opportunities for yourself that don’t involve formal education at all.
Now don’t get me wrong: if you want to be an aerospace engineer for NASA, you’re going to need a college degree! But education or not, you can integrate the following tips into almost any aspect of your life and extracurricular interests, and you’ll see exciting results.
1. Put God first.
This is a no-brainer (or should be), but it’s the most important of these tips, so it’s worth mentioning. The steps of a righteous woman are established by the Lord (Psalm 37:23) and we know that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He’ll direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6). If you pursue God above all other things, you’ll be amazed at the breathtaking views your life path will cross.
2. Be a nerd.
Seriously! Enthusiasm goes such a long way. After I started writing for She’s Intentional, I became a Dainty Jewell’s enthusiast. Long story short, my employment with Dainty Jewell’s came about as a direct result of my zeal. Take just about anything you love or are passionate about, don’t be afraid to become an avid fan, and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find venues where you can become more involved in that field. Along the same lines . . .
3. Do things that make you afraid of looking silly.
If I trace my involvement with Dainty Jewell’s and She’s Intentional back even further, I remember my four-years-younger self being terrified to start my own blog. I’m not one to be vocal about my opinions and feelings in a group of friends around a dinner table; why would I post them where the whole world can see? What if people smirk or think the things I say are silly?
Thankfully, I knew the blog thing was something God was impressing me to do, and I went ahead with it. It’s only because of that blog that an acquaintance tagged me on Facebook when she saw Dainty Jewell’s was looking for bloggers, and I applied.
Even today, I’m not one hundred percent comfortable pushing the “publish” button on my posts, but I see the benefits of quelling the fear of looking silly, and I keep pressing share.
4. Do things that make you afraid, period.
Oh, how I hate stepping out of my comfort zone! Yet taking opportunities to do just that has afforded me so many beautiful, rich experiences within the past few years.
Obviously, I don’t mean you should behave recklessly and with abandon, but I think we all recognize those times when, deep inside, we know that braving the uncharted waters is the right thing to do.
5. Be willing to work for free.
For writers, at least, this is controversial advice. Hobby or not, when you’ve invested many a headache and sleepless night into a project, you want to see a return. But I would advise you to be willing to work for free — at first.
If you do well, I can almost promise you’ll eventually end up with paid opportunities. You may even be able to one day quit your day job!
6. Embrace excellence.
You’d be surprised (I hope) at how many people want to do something, yet when it comes time to apply, they submit sloppy work. No matter the position or opportunity, you’ll come out ahead if you submit your best work.
When applying for a position or submitting your work, use proper spellings and standard grammar. Save the texting lingo and alternative spellings for your BFFs . . . (SMH!).
Submit the absolute best quality possible, even if it takes extra time. Follow instructions carefully. I’m always surprised at how many people skip steps and leave out information when applying for positions or entering contests.
Beyond the application and submission process, commit yourself to excellence in any work you do. It’ll take you far!
7. Don’t forget it’s all temporary.
I can’t write an article like this without reminding you that very soon, only the things we did for God’s kingdom will be left standing. As much as we should make and work toward goals, as much as we should embrace positive experiences, we can’t afford to idolize them. Soon, outside of their impact on eternity, none of the positions, opportunities, and possessions we have on this earth are going to matter.
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).