10 Ways to Approach Your Future with Freedom and Confidence Rather Than Fear and Anxiety

By Drew Moser and Jess Fankhauser

Our futures are fraught with hopes, fears, expectations, and worries. Ideal visions of what’s ahead form easily in our minds, but the path to get there is elusive. Along the way, we’re bombarded by two competing and contradictory messages on how to live. First, live it up while you still can, because being an adult is boring. BUT, figure out your life as soon as possible, or else you’re failing at adulthood.

Both messages are false and confusing. To delay “real” adulthood for the sake of adventure is, let’s be honest, a stall tactic. It also assumes that adulthood is something to avoid. But to sprint until we’ve checked all the boxes is a recipe for disappointment. You simply can’t force your way into your future.

There’s a third way, a healthier approach to the confusing world that is adulthood. It is to embrace freedom in our twenties, even when we don’t know what’s ahead.

We can do this if we have a proper perspective on vocation, God’s calling for our lives. We’re prone to view God’s calling as a far-off future destination. A better way is to view vocation as a process of responding to God’s calling here and now.

With this perspective, it’s possible to approach your future with freedom and confidence, not fear and anxiety. Here are ten ways to do so:

  1. Explore the character and nature of God. Our view of God directly impacts our view of vocation. If we view God as a challenging, demanding taskmaster, our lives will be full of anxiety and fear of messing up. But if we view God as the Good Shepherd of our lives, who loves, protects, and cares for us, we can live with more freedom and confidence knowing God is on our side.
  2. Discover YOU. To live with freedom and confidence, you need to truly know who God created you to be. This may seem confusing at first, but personality assessments, frank conversations with friends and mentors, and some intentional self-reflection can deepen your self-awareness. A helpful question to ask: “What are the things that I do that are normal for me, but distinctive in the eyes of others?” The answer to this question gives you important insight into who you are.
  3. Pay attention. This seems simple, but we live in an age where we are perpetually distracted. In order to be fully prepared for what’s next, you need to be fully present to the responsibilities in front of you. In fact, faithfully attending to what you’re responsible for right now is the best preparation for the future. And when you pay attention, you’ll find yourself more grateful for the gifts of the present.
  4. Actively participate in your life (don’t just let it come your way). Closely related to paying attention is active participation in your life. It’s easy to simply react to what comes your way. It’s much more difficult, but healthier, to proactively invest in your life. To do so is what Steven Garber refers to as “living implicated.” In other words, see the roles in which you have responsibility and steward them well. Contribute when you may be tempted to simply consume. And you can contribute before you have “all your ducks in a row.”
  5. Just do the next right thing. When you feel aimless or overwhelmed, just take the next right step in your twenties—don’t feel as if you have to “boil the ocean.” What’s the next right thing for you to do? Do that. Then, what’s the next right thing for you to do? Do that.
  6. Don’t make a plan . . . make plans. When we think about the future, we often cling to one ideal version of it. When things don’t work out as we planned, it can be devastating. It’s good to plan ahead. It’s better to think through multiple viable plans for your future. This will take away the pressure of getting it perfect all the time.
  7. Forget balance. Pursue healthy rhythms. We often strive to live a “balanced life” in an effort to feel less anxious. The problem is, balance is a myth. We can’t perfectly balance all of our responsibilities. It’s much better to cultivate healthy rhythms in our lives: rhythms of work, rest, play, worship, and fellowship.
  8. Live dimensionally. To help manage our stress about our futures, we often fixate on one thing we believe will be the key to a good life. Often it’s a career. Sometimes it’s the hope of a spouse. But to place all of our hope in one aspect of our lives isn’t healthy. We are multi-dimensional beings. We are family members, friends, citizens, parishioners, workers, and so much more. Freedom and confidence are evident in our lives when we live as the whole beings that God created us to be.
  9. Invest in the local church. To participate in the body of Christ on a consistent basis provides essential community, challenge, support, and fellowship. It’s not easy. Churches struggle to engage twentysomethings effectively. But freedom comes from pursuing presence over attendance and investment over consumption in the local church.
  10. Draw a wider circle. As fear and anxiety about the future creep in, it’s tempting to withdraw from others and hide. It’s important to draw a wider circle when we think of our families and our communities. To engage others, especially those who have different stories than we do, provides helpful perspective on our own lives.

Fear is a liar. You can live your life with hope, purpose, and meaning. When you do, a bright future awaits.

Drew and Jess are coauthors of Ready or Not: Leanjessing into Life in Our Twenties (NavPress, April 2018), available anywhere books are sold. Drew is a dean and professor at Taylor University, and Jess is assistant director of athletics at Taylor.

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