3 Things You Should Do To Prepare.
I trust that when you read this post that you’re in the best of health and spirits. Several days ago I was thrilled when I clicked “publish” indicating that I was approving the final proof of my first book “Step Into Your Glorious Future”. I realized that the years of compiling notes, stop and go writing, selecting a book cover, becoming a legal entity, selecting editors, graphic designers, securing a collaborator, funding the project, and everything else that comes with publishing a book was over. The time to sit back and relax was finally here, or so I thought.
Over the years, I’ve met with teenagers that face a similar situation when it comes to planning their next steps beyond graduation. Whew! Those 12 years of homework, projects, quizzes, and tests are finally over. As parents, we know or should know that graduation is often the beginning of the hard work needed to become a well rounded and productive member of society. This book chronicles the lessons I’ve learned over the years and provides actions you can take in anticipation of the challenges your children will undoubtedly face. When it comes to things we must do to live that glorious life God has promised us (Eph 1:11) I usually try to break it down into three areas; anticipation, taking action and sustainment.
Anticipate: With the exception of special circumstances our kids will generally leave our home to start their life journey when they are in their early 20s. Some choose to join the military while others may prefer to keep the job they had while in high school. The last group is the ones poised to study in college. We know this day is coming yet sometimes don’t take the necessary steps to prepare for it. We can definitely anticipate they will want to do fewer chores, stay out later and generally speaking pay no bills even though they are now “grown”. Oh, did I forget they don’t want you to tell them who or when they should date? They don’t anticipate our auto insurance going up because they now drive the family car or that college tuition goes up just about everywhere in the country.
Take Action: Your children will come to the “fork in the road”. They now have to make a choice in terms of which direction they will go in after high school. Preparing your children for when this time comes not only helps them but lowers the stress level for you and your family. Whether its saving and investing early or exposing them to career expos and summer programs, planning for this day should be a life-long process. If you haven’t done some of those things you think they will need to succeed, it’s never too late. Some kids will tell you they don’t know what they want to do or if they want to go to college. For those that are not sure, taking a personality test or self-discovery test could help them identify things about themselves that steer them into where they could succeed. Taking the SAT or ACT should be done a couple years prior to going to college whether or not they plan on going. If they end up choosing the military or some other career path, it’s not going to hurt that they took these exams. Career opportunities continue to present themselves for those who are prepared and qualified to fill those roles. Make them accountable to you academically by getting a status update as often as you think is necessary. The time to get involved academically is not when the school notifies you that your child is not graduating. Develop a scholarship submission plan. This will supplement the funds you have already started putting away in a college savings plan for your children. Send them to summer programs on campuses across the nation starting from the 9th grade, these programs are out there and many are free. If they are now seniors, there are still many internship and summer program opportunities to help them prepare for their first year of college.
Sustain: Unfortunately there are many who don’t want to do routine things routinely. Some call it boring, I call it preparation for glorious living. That thing that you don’t want to do, that’s exactly what you should do (Rom 7:15). Studying, saving, planning and organizing should all be part of your sustainment plan. Who said it would be easy to consistently go to the gym, eat the right foods, put away a certain portion of your finances for a rainy day? These are the very things we don’t do. If we have a hard time doing it, our kids will have the same challenges or maybe even more. So check on homework when you don’t want to, open a college savings account sooner versus later and apply for scholarships well in advance of their graduation date. The sustainment phase can be the most challenging because it requires vision, prayer, patience, and commitment.
My book is now available for millions of people (I like the sound of that) to benefit from the lessons I’ve shared. During the final stages of the book, I anticipated that it would take me quite a bit of time, patience, perseverance and money to make it happen. The action I took was to lay out a schedule which included writing, personal proofing, editing, establishing a budget, researching, establishing a legal entity, and more. The sustainment plan involves establishing a social media presence and a personal website, speaking engagements, volunteering, mentoring, blogging and more. It has been challenging and I could easily say I don’t want to do this. However, I realize that sharing the lessons I’ve learned along the way could be of benefit to someone reading this blog right now. Raising children is hard work, however taking the time to anticipate what’s required for major life events, take decisive action when the situation calls for it and sustain the positive actions you’ve taken, our kids will be well positioned to live a life of excellence. (Matt 7:13).