by Nicholeen Peck
The many messages telling us how we ‘should’ live our lives can be dizzying. It seems to me everyone has a plan for us; from advertisers to organizers. For years, I’ve sat in committee meetings and witnessed presentations laced with presumptions and conclusions based on someone else’s value system – their plan for our lives. One such presumption has always bothered me. People tend to assume that when someone doesn’t complete college that something has gone wrong. This value system concludes with the assumption that for a person to become successful they must matriculate through higher education at a specified rate. This assumption seems to discount individual choices and priorities. Yet, despite the desires of researchers or administrators, in the end, what matters most to the individual, usually, wins out. This is why good parenting is so important. The value system a person is raised with will direct what ultimately matters most to them in life.
Education is one of my priorities. Thus, I love learning, study, and have spent a good portion of my life teaching classes and homeschooling my children. However, I also intentionally taught my children the value of family and God’s will in our lives and education. I impressed upon them that family and God’s will is much more important than academics, career, or power. In fact, I explained to my children that the solution to obtaining the best education and to having the greatest wealth and societal impact comes by putting family and God first. I taught my children, that honoring and trusting these priorities will bring balance to life, along with increased happiness and success.
Paije Finally Graduated
This week I attended the university graduation of my daughter, Paije. She started university when she was still high school age. Her original plan was to graduate college early and get a jump start on life. As time went on, she served a mission for our church, got married, and had a child. She also served in her church and community, while she pursued both of her degrees. Long story short, Paije graduated with a major in marriage and family and a minor in vocal performance after 8 years of on and off university studies.
College attendance researchers often express concern for the large percentage of people who drop out of college after the first year. Paije’s record shows many times when she discontinued her education. First, she took time off to serve a mission. Then, again, she took some time to get married, then once more to have a baby and acclimate to motherhood. However, these choices were not a bad thing even if she never came back to complete her education. But she did come back.
What Matters Most
The way Paije spends her time depicts what matters most to her. In fact, the way we all spend our time is the usual indicator of our highest priority. Paije leads and serves her family and serves in her church, then she does other things like school and work. As she puts the first things first, she ends up succeeding in all things.
Here are a few questions to consider as you determine what matters most to you, and to help you decide how to teach your children what matters most as they plan for their futures.
What moment from your life has brought you the greatest joy?
What moment from your life has led to the greatest service of others?
What moment from your life has brought you your greatest sorrow?
Who supports you whether you fail or succeed?
Who guides and directs you despite getting nothing out of it?
Who loves you even if you don’t love them back?
If you had more time in your life, which relationship would you choose to improve?
Who is loyal to you?
Who are you connected to forever?
The answers to these questions reveal who/what we really value. They point us in the direction of relationship instead of selfishness and help us adjust the way we spend our time and priorities. No one’s life purpose is to please themselves. Sure, someone could pursue pleasure as a purpose, but they won’t feel a sense of purpose. Selfishness is empty. Only when we give of ourselves freely according to what we value do we find true joy.
Message To Parents
Parenthood is the hardest task most people face in life. Don’t forget that at one point becoming a parent to that child is what mattered most to you. Parenting can get tiring and even discouraging. Children can fall and struggle from time to time. However, the faults don’t matter when we have already decided that our children are what matters most to us. They bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. They have a capacity to love us no matter what, and if we do that for them, that feeling of love will ultimately be reciprocated.
Paije balanced it all by not doing it all at once. She put what mattered most first, then allowed the rest of her life to fill in the gaps. By doing this she met her goal to accomplish her college degrees.
It takes time to see the fruits of our labors, but we feel fulfilled when we are valuing what matters most. Don’t put stock in the messages of researchers, instructors, advertisers, organizers, or anyone else who is vying for your attention. Keep your focus on what matters most. Focusing on priorities is what really heals society and makes life fulfilling.
If what matters most is bringing out the worst in you, then improve your calmness with Nicholeen’s free Calm Parenting Toolkit.