This year marks 26 years since I graduated from college.
I entered freshman year as a teaching candidate, on track to teach elementary school. Seven of eight roommates were also slated to enter the teaching track. This was purely a coincidence, not a housing assignment. It illustrates how many of my companions were encouraged to become teachers.
I can remember my mom encouraging me to become a teacher. “You should become a teacher because someday you will have kids. It will be a lot easier if you are on the same schedule.”
It’s pretty logical advice. But, it’s a plan that revolves around one basic fact – I will have kids. I didn’t.
Here’s the thing about advice – it’s neither good nor bad. It’s just opinion based on lived experience.
In this case, my mom’s lived experience. She had kids. She wanted to work and have the same schedule as her kids. She didn’t have a teaching degree, so she became a cafeteria worker at our school. She was giving me her best advice based on her lived experience.
The problem was I didn’t have my own plan. I didn’t have any idea what I wanted in the future. And I didn’t make the effort to map my future out. I simply rolled with my mom’s advice.
The first step when putting yourself first is to Clarify Your Priorities.
We must define, for ourselves, what is important. We must identify our needs and desires. We must outline where we want to be in our future. This is what helps us chart OUR unique journey.
If we neglect this first step, we end up on the road toward someone else’s dream.
“You should…” is a trigger phrase for me. Whenever somebody says, “You should…” I turn tail and run the other way.
You should smile more. You should shop at this store. You should live in this neighborhood. You should go on this diet to lose weight.
They mean well. I remind myself that they are giving me advice based on their lived experience. But, that kind of advice can easily divert me from my path. What worked for them is not necessarily what will work for me.
Through the power of Facebook, I can see what my college roommates are up to today. Only three of the seven potential teachers are still teaching. The rest have moved on to other professions. They are charting their own course.
“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” -Jim Rohn
It’s time to set your sails and Clarify Your Priorities.
What is important to you? What do you need? What do you desire? Where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
What one adjustment can you make today to get you where you want to go?