Q&A: Questions and Answers
July 2005

“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, July 2005, 16

Questions and Answers

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

I’m 18 and I just graduated. But I don’t know what my next step should be. What should I do with my life?

New Era

  • Think of some possible next steps, like serving a mission, continuing your education, or finding a job.

  • Pray and fast for the Lord’s guidance in your decision, and remember that spiritual confirmation often comes as you move ahead with faith.

  • Your parents, Church leaders, or school counselors may have some helpful ideas.

  • Above all, let the Spirit guide your decisions, and be faithful no matter what you choose to do.

Your next step is a big decision. You have a variety of exciting options such as getting a job, going to college, or preparing for a mission. As you decide what’s next for you, think about these questions: Where can I best serve? What would I like to do? What do I feel the Lord would have me do? In what order should I do these things?

Education. After high school, you could continue your education or get job training. The prophets have always emphasized getting a good education. The Church has two Web sites you can look at about education and jobs: www.besmart.com and www.providentliving.org.

A mission. Many young men your age are preparing for missions. A full-time mission is a privilege and a wonderful opportunity. Because it is physically, emotionally, and spiritually demanding, however, those who are not able to serve a full-time mission can serve in other rewarding ways. Your bishop can tell you about a full-time mission and other opportunities to serve and how you can prepare.

Marriage. When the time is right, a temple marriage is a worthy goal for young men and young women. For now, prepare to make temple covenants by keeping your baptismal covenants (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:77).

Making good decisions. You will make some important, and sometimes difficult, choices in the next few years. Heavenly Father will lovingly guide you if you ask Him. You may be guided to a career that best fits your talents. Or you may do well in any job of your liking. The important thing is to be true to the gospel, no matter what path you choose. For instance, almost any college you attend could be fine as long as you keep Church standards.

The best decision will be a prayerful one. Fasting can help, and your family could fast and pray for you as well. If you feel you don’t get a clear answer, move ahead with faith. If you’re worthy of the Holy Ghost’s guidance and you feel at peace with your choice, you are heading in the right direction.

In addition to your prayers and pondering, other guidance can come from your parents, leaders, the scriptures, and your patriarchal blessing. Your school’s guidance counselors may also be able to help. They can show you how to identify your abilities and interests.

Right now you might feel like Nephi when he said, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Ne. 4:6). As you prayerfully search for the next steps in your life, you too can be led by the Spirit.

Elder Robert D. Hales

As we study our problems out in our minds, patience and pondering should have an important place in our decision-making process. We should reflect on our eternal goals.”
—Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Making Righteous Choices at the Crossroads of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 11.


Including Heavenly Father in your plans for your future is really important. He has a plan for us to become our best, and often we can’t see what He has in store for us if we don’t pray and fast to know it. My patriarchal blessing helped me realize some of the things Heavenly Father wants me to do, and it helped me see things in more of an eternal perspective.
Nicole Rawlins, 17, Fair Oaks Third Ward, Fair Oaks California Stake

I was in the same position. The first thing I did was try to find as many options as I was interested in. I researched a little about each option. Then I asked myself, “If I choose this, where will I be in 10 years?” Many of my options led me where I wanted to be. So I chose one I thought would be best for me, and I prayed and thought about it. If it didn’t seem to be the right one, I chose another and did the same process.
Nick Parkin, 18, Salmon Creek Ward, Vancouver Washington West Stake

You can look to your patriarchal blessing for guidance. Normally, continuing your education or going on a mission is the best choice. To make the right choice, you can pray for guidance from the Lord.
April Byington, 17, Benton Ward, Little Rock Arkansas Stake

“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good” (Alma 37:37). If you pray and counsel with the Lord, you will be able to do great things! A couple of things that all young people should consider is that after high school, we should seek higher education. President Hinckley has said, “Get as much education as possible.” That’s something that will be very important. Also, we young men have a glorious duty to serve a mission. We should be preparing as much as possible to be ready to serve.
Joseph Blanch, 17, Liberty Second Ward, Independence Missouri Stake

There are many important things to do in our lives after we graduate from high school, such as going to college, working, going on a mission, or marrying in the temple. These are the right things to do. But we need to do the right things not only for the right reason, but at the right time as well. So ask yourself what you want to do, then pray and ask for guidance, and do what the Spirit tells you to do at this time. Doctrine and Covenants 9:7–9 explains more about this.
Vanny Roth, 21, Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission

College is very beneficial. It is a great way to strengthen your skills and talents and gain new insights about the world. If you decide to pursue further education after high school, be prepared to work hard. Or maybe you could attend a two-year college or trade school or maybe even serve in the military. These are great ways to prepare to better serve your fellowmen. If you have other ideas as to what you’d like to do after high school, think about them prayerfully. Talk to your parents, siblings, and bishop. Above all, ask Heavenly Father what the right path is for you. He will help guide you as you take your next step into adulthood.
Emily Pyeatt, 21, Yorktown Ward, Newport News Virginia Stake

After graduating, get involved with your stake’s young single adult program. There are institute classes you could attend. Attending institute and going to young single adult activities can help you feel the Spirit and make a world of difference in your life.
Emily Craighead, 19, Oak Woods Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake

Avoid being idle. Participate in Church functions, develop new talents, and bask in favorite hobbies. If you search for employment, save your money towards further education or a mission. Whichever you choose, you can find help from the Lord.
Cassie Crapo, 18, Franklin Park Ward, Calgary Alberta East Stake

Photograph by Christina Smith