Urgent Life

You ever notice that you and your work mates are just as excited about work getting cancelled on a “snow day” as you were when you were kids and school got cancelled? We’re all pretty much formed by about age six, folks, and we don’t change that much. The backpackers wanted another year off before life got too serious.

What was that putting off? Well for one, it put off decisions about where they were headed. Many came back from Europe and had lost a lot of momentum and never followed up and made the commitment to school or a trade or anything.

I caught up with some of them at my five-year high-school reunion and more than one asked me if the place I was working at was hiring. A few of the same ones asked me the same question at the ten-year reunion.

The sad thing is that if you don’t make decisions and get in the habit of making decisions about your life, your life makes the decisions for you.

And while some people steer well through these waters, you have to know there are so many potential pitfalls, so many critical intersections of life where things can take a bad turn, that if you don’t take some control and make some tough decisions the results can become permanent and affect your life right through until the end of it.

No Chicken Little, the sky isn’t falling but friends, the weathervane isn’t necessarily stable. Notice the chart on page xx. In that matrix, you’ll see seven or eight stages where life’s critical intersections present themselves. At some of these stages there are options, like whether or not you choose to go on with your education. These you have control over.

At some, like whether or not your birth was planned or unexpected, you have no choice in the matter and you were handed a bit of an agenda by your parents. Some of the critical intersections are within your parents’ control. Maybe they should have sent you to preschool. Maybe they wanted to send you but couldn’t afford it. Maybe they tried to send you and you cried too much. Maybe they forced you to stay and you became an insecure person.

In any event, I provide this chart for your consideration. Begin at the bottom and work your way up. There is a path that you’ll find that embraces the most desirable route through life. I know very few people who have lived their entire life so ideally.

The thing you must realize is that the balance is so very delicate; those moments and passages in life where things can go wrong are so abundant (within and outside of any control), that it takes more than a roll of the dice to find yourself one day living the American Dream of being strapped with a mortgage, car payment, kids that need braces, a dog that ruins your carpet and fathers-in-law that falls asleep in your chair on Sunday afternoons…

Oh, uh, well anyway I may have drifted a bit. The thing is, bright kids come out of all walks of life. So do not-so-bright ones. Good minds go to waste because of social and financial problems.

Unwanted children seem to catch on early in life that they are more of a burden than a blessing.

Parents and teachers can enhance a student’s growth just as fast as they can stunt it too. All of these factors come into play throughout life. There is no guarantee of which influences will set in or which ones will roll off your back.

My point is that with so many variables, why not cut the risk of messing it all up by staying steadfast with the things you can control. The sooner you establish your life patterns and the better those patterns are, the better chance you have to succeed and enjoy the rest of your life.

As your personality becomes cemented in high school you should be taking inventory of your development. As inspirational writer/speaker Jim Rohn says, “You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy once said, “Superior achievements or making the most of one’s capabilities, is to a very considerable degree a matter of habit. This was why Joe used to say to the children, ‘We don’t want any losers around here. In this family we want winners.’ They were encouraged to be winners, leaders, and victors in whatever they set their hand to… to develop the habit.”

Look again at the matrix. Every single stage could be preceded by any of the previous blocks. Unchallenged kids could still excel. Challenged kids may still fail. There is no guarantee of the route as you move block to block.

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