During your wonderful, magical teen years, it’s normal to think that preparing for the future isn’t important, but nothing could be further from the truth. How you prepare today will determine the course you travel for the rest of your life. Just slow down for a moment and look around you. If you honestly look, you’ll clearly see examples of those who prepared and those who didn’t. Which life would you like? I’m sure you want a successful life, and that will require you to prepare.
Will preparing for the future be difficult? It won’t if you remember one simple rule: “Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here, so the only day you have to think about is today.” Focus on today. Don’t worry about tomorrow, next week, next month, or the next however many years. If you try to do your best today, your yesterdays will be nothing more than a pleasant memory and your tomorrow will take care of itself. Here’s how you can use your today to create a better future tomorrow.
First, you must recognize that there are two of you, in you. There is the spiritual you and the physical you. Which is the real you? It’s the spiritual you. You are a son or daughter of God having a get your body experience, but your physical body’s health will also affect your future. This understanding is important because you must prepare both the spiritual and physical you if you want a better future.
Start preparing by setting some spiritual and physical goals. Goals are very important. Why? You’ll never know when you get there unless you know where you’re going. They also give you a purpose. Nothing will get done unless you can find a purpose for doing it. Just make sure your goals are reachable. Nothing will discourage you more than trying to reach a goal that can’t be reached.
Your main spiritual goal is to become like Jesus Christ, but you can’t do that all at once. Start by comparing your attributes to His. The ones that don’t match are the ones you need to work on. Choose one and work on it until you’ve become like Him then choose another and work on it. Working on one at a time will keep you from becoming discouraged, but here’s a warning. Satan and his evil team will tell you that you will never become like Him, so why try. The good news is you don’t have to. The direction you’re traveling is every bit as important as actually getting there. When you come up short in the end, the Savior will fill the gap.
It’s important to become like Jesus Christ because life doesn’t make you; you make your life. Regardless of where you start your future success or failure will be determined by who you are and what you become. Your attributes will determine the relationships you’ll enjoy. Relationships are created when people love and trust each other. Can you think of anyone more loved and trusted than Jesus Christ? When you become like Him others will love and trust you. A bond of love and trust must be created before a relationship can develop. A successful future life is the consequence of many successful relationships.
There’s another equally important consequence created when you try to become like Jesus Christ. When you try you’ll obey more commandments and that allows the Spirit to be with you more. The Spirit is the line of communication between you and a loving Heavenly Father who can see the future. Think about that. You have a Heavenly Father that loves you more than you could ever understand. He wants to bless you with every good thing and He can see the future. This is why you want to always have the Spirit with you. As you prepare for your future, try hard to obey the commandments and then when you don’t, learn to repent really fast.
There are three basic purposes of life. You are here to get a body, to learn and to be tested. Getting a body wasn’t hard; you just woke up here on earth and you had a body. Learning also isn’t hard because this earth is an ingenious creation. As you make choices, life teaches you what you needed to know. For example, if you need to learn to be honest, the choices you make will give you an opportunity to learn to be honest. This opportunity comes in the form of remorse, regret or punishment.
You are tested when you make choices. Some choices will be good and some will be bad. When you make good choices life continues on. When you make bad choices life usually isn’t good and that reminds you to repent. When you repent the Spirit is there to teach, lead, guide, protect and prosper you. When you don’t repent the Spirit leaves allowing the evil team to help you make more bad choices. The repentance process isn’t hard. There are five basic steps and four of them happen automatically. The only hard step is step four – trying hard not to sin in a world filled with opportunities to sin.
The repentance process is a real blessing when you use it and trust it. The Savior promised to save you even when you sin. Use the commandments as your guide, make good choices, learn your lessons, repent if needed, and then move forward with confidence. If you will do this your Heavenly Father will bless you and it’s those blessings that make your life better.
To prepare physically you must understand that even though Heavenly Father loves you, you live in a very dangerous, unforgiving world. This world uses everyone’s choices to teach you what you need to know and what you’d rather not know. You’ve been given parents and leaders that love you, a full set of instructions called commandments and His Spirit to guide you … but you still need to be careful.
Being careful doesn’t mean you can’t try new things, enjoy life or have fun. It just means you must use the law of probability and outcome every single day. The law of probability and outcome is simply this. The probability of an outcome, good or bad, exists every time a choice is made and an action is taken. Whether the probability increases or decreases depends on the action and the frequency of the actions.
When making choices always remember that your body’s physical condition will determine your quality of life when you’re older. If you treat it well odds are good that it will be your best friend. If you don’t treat it well odds are more than good that it will become your worst enemy. Before you make a choice always pause briefly and ask these questions, “If I eat this, drink this, use this, do this or don’t do this, what is the possible outcome? Could the outcome be life changing or life ending? What are the risks? Are they really worth it? The choice is yours, but don’t expect God to step in and change the consequences when they’re bad. Every action creates a consequence, sooner or later. Here is the rule. If actions are good the consequences will be good. If the actions are bad the consequences will be bad, but there is an exception to this rule. It happens when you’re good choices meet someone’s bad choices; so again, please be careful.
These are just a few things you can do now to prepare for a better future. When you do them, don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking, “Could it Really Be This Easy?”
AFTER YEARS OF WORKING with young men and women facing uncertain futures and important life decisions, Ted J. Peck realized that God is always answering our prayers. It’s up to us to learn to listen.
THE REST IS SURPRISINGLY EASY! In this humorous and uplifting book, you’ll find out how to
• Create a successful life with God’s help.
• Take control of your experiences and trials.
• Sort good thoughts from evil thoughts.
• Repent quickly and constantly.
• Set and achieve goals at school, work, and beyond.
DISCOVER A NEW OUTLOOK ON YOUR LIFE: you are a beloved, blessed child of God-—not a target of testing or punishment from a stern Father. Uplifting and inspiring, this book is a must-read for teens and young adults!
Ted Peck has taught seminary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 10 years and has served as bishop of his home ward and a college campus singles ward, working with many young people. He’s watched his three children and thirteen grandchildren grow and face their own life choices. Being married to his childhood sweetheart for forty-three years has taught him things he never imagined he would learn, and today the two of them are serving as a Senior Missionary Couple for the Church.