Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I’m having a hard time deciding what to do with the rest of my life in terms of a career. This is a decision I will have to make very soon. How do I decide?

New Era

It’s exciting to think about all the things you can do and be. And it’s good to start thinking about what you want to do with your life, so you can start working toward your goals.

Choosing a career is important because you’ll be spending so much of your time involved in it. But there are more factors involved in choosing a career than simply picking something that you are interested in. For example, where you live may limit your educational opportunities. Family demands may influence your decision. Or simply finding out more realistically what the job entails may sway you.

But it is never too early to start planning. If you know that you need to go to college, you can make sure you get good grades all through school. If you know that you need hands-on experience, you can arrange for training or an apprenticeship.

How do you go about finding out what type of career you want? There are resources and counselors that can help.

Talk to career counselors.

School counselors and counselors at job centers have tests and questionnaires that can help you identify your strong points. But these test results can’t measure desire. For example, one young woman had a learning disability that made school difficult. She was told that she would never be able to handle college-level work. She still wanted to attend college, so she arranged for tutors and learned methods of studying that helped her overcome her particular learning problem. She graduated with her college degree and went on to graduate school. She wanted an education badly enough to find ways to reach her goals.

Take a variety of classes.

Don’t assume you like or dislike something before you get involved with it in a little more depth. Give things a chance. You may discover some interests or talents you didn’t know you had.

Take a variety of jobs.

You can learn a lot about what you don’t want to do from a job you hate. And you can observe people doing jobs you might be interested in. Ask to visit the office or shop of someone who works in the field you are considering. If you don’t become a pest, most people are willing to give you advice on classes to take and things to do to prepare for a career in their field.

Learn how to start a job and finish it.

Read your patriarchal blessing.

Your blessing can help you recognize important things about yourself. Use it as a guide, not only for choosing a career, but in all your life’s decisions.

Be realistic.

You’ve heard people say that if you want something bad enough and are willing to work for it, you can make it. That’s true only part of the time. No matter how hard you work or how much you want it, being a professional athlete or entertainer may not be possible. You may have to pursue those interests as pastimes.

And some job requirements are out of your control. For example, you may not have the physical attributes necessary to be a model. Be realistic about your career choices.

Be true to the important things.

Your work is important, but even more important is what type of person you choose to be. A life lived righteously is much more significant than a life spent in the career of your choice. In other words, things might happen that stop you from doing the type of work you love, but you always have the choice of being the good type of person you want to be.

Readers

Your patriarchal blessing will help guide you in your decision. For instance, the Lord may want you to go on a mission first as it tells me in my patriarchal blessing. Seek the will of the Lord in your life, and he will bless you in many ways.

Heather Ann Hildebrand, 18 Redlands, California

I would say, sit down and analyze all your likes and interests. Then associate all possible careers with each listing. Explore many fields of employment by setting up visits to the offices. But most of all, the best advice I can give is to pray for peace to your mind and help for your problem.

Josh Van Dyke, 18 Soldotna, Alaska

Deciding on your career is a very exciting but scary decision. Choose the one that you feel is best for you and then pray and ask Heavenly Father to help you.

Jayme Jones, 14 New Castle, Pennsylvania

Every time I turned around there was something new that I wanted to do. Then my teacher told my class we were supposed to write a book and turn it in. I was reluctant to even try because it seemed enormously boring to me. When I tried, I found that I liked writing, and I had all sorts of ideas to write down on paper. I am absolutely certain that I want to be an author. I wouldn’t even know I liked to write if I hadn’t been forced to do that assignment. My advice to you is to take every opportunity you can get to try new things. Don’t be judgmental before you try it.

Melanie Wise, 12 Green River, Wyoming

I have found that the first thing that anybody needs to do, before choosing a career, is to look at what they like to do most and what they are good at. Money and recognition should come later. No matter how well paid, nobody likes to do something they don’t want to do.

Second, have a backup plan, something to fall back on.

Elder Cory H. Russell Washington Tacoma Mission

Keep in mind your talents and interests. I will include Heavenly Father in my research. I may ask for a priesthood blessing to help narrow the choices, and then I will personally pray to confirm my final choice.

Regan Berry, 15 Indianapolis, Indiana

Choosing a career as a nurse was the biggest and most stressful decision I have had to make. Looking back, I wish I had explored a few professions through volunteer work and interviewed people in different jobs before going to college. It is a lot easier going to school knowing the goals that you need to set and achieve. It’s wonderful when you enjoy your job and feel good about what you’re doing.

Holli Ratliff, 21 Pocatello, Idaho

Don’t pick an occupation just because it pays well. Chances are you won’t be happy. Consider your future family, your leisure time, and Church responsibilities. These will fit into your career as well.

Elder Shayne J. Cullen, 20 England Bristol Mission

It would help to talk to a school counselor. For instance, I am spending a week at the local vocational skills center working on an assortment of things to help my future.

Roy Thompson, 16 Yakima, Washington

As Church members, we have a valuable set of tools to help us: prayer, fasting, and the Holy Ghost.

At one stage in my life, I had just finished a tertiary course in horse husbandry. I had one job offer and another person keen to interview me. Not sure which job to take, I prayed fervently. I was strongly prompted to return home and pursue a completely different career. Not really wanting to go and not sure I was going to be able to get a job in the accounts field, I relied on the Lord as the prompting was so strong. I have never regretted that decision as I now have an excellent job.

The Lord will guide you. He has never failed me.

Natasha Abram, 20 Auckland, New Zealand

[photo] Photography by Craig J. Moyer

[illustration] Remember the fishermen who dropped their nets when the Savior called. A life lived righteously is much more significant than a life spent in the career of your choice. (Painting detail Christ Calling Peter and Andrew by Harry Anderson.)