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It Seems To Me: Picking priorities

Posted: Friday, Oct 5th, 2012

Sometimes I find myself talking to my students about success. Since I teach college level classes, itís a little surprising to learn that most of them have not thought much about long-term success. Their goals were pretty much set for them Ė finish high school, go to college, get a degree, and then get a job.

When I ask them to describe success, they describe symptoms of success Ė a nice house, a good family, a new car. Sometimes they will go so far as to mention ďa good-paying job.Ē

Iíll suggest that, since they are preparing themselves for careers that they will take up 30 years of their lives or more, maybe they should be preparing themselves for futures they will enjoy living.

All too often, we present possibilities based entirely on practical considerations. This makes sense considering the cost and time involved in obtaining a college degree. But it gets a little scary when you look at certain realities.

The world of work is changing rapidly. Jobs that provided decent livings just a few years ago are no longer available, and many will find careers that donít even exist yet. Important jobs that were once considered honorable and worthy of respect are now viewed with derision.

So the young person who dreams of owning a farm or ranch sets off on a path that will lead away from the lifestyle that would bring them happiness. The one who really wants to be a teacher chooses to go into business management instead.

Iím not suggesting that itís wrong to be practical, but I am suggesting that there may be other things to consider. Teaching doesnít pay well, but it provides an opportunity to make a positive difference in peopleís lives. Ranching may be filled with uncertainty, but thereís a lot to be said about living a life that is closely connected to nature and the land. Besides, we will always need food.

No matter what we choose to do with our lives, there will always be challenges and obstacles. When we make our choices based entirely on the likelihood of getting a job and earning good money, those obstacles appear overwhelming and we become easily discouraged.

But when we choose careers that spark a passion within us, we become more willing to face those challenges and overcome those obstacles. We may not be successful, but at least we fight for something we believe in.

The secret seems to be in picking our priorities. And each of us has to discover the things that matter most to us.

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