By age 21, I had made three of the most important decisions in my life. Together, these decisions impacted the trajectory of my marriage and career and ultimately my happiness. The first decision was a commitment to my faith.  Marrying my spouse was the second one and the third was a commitment to my calling.

Having studied journalism in college and worked briefly for an advertising firm, I found myself in the final round of interviews with the Vice President of Human Resources at Chick-fil-A. I had spent months interviewing for a position in my chosen field of marketing, specifically within the advertising department. I loved the idea of using my creative talents to help promote a brand I enjoyed and respected.

After an intense two-hour interview, the VP asked me an important question. He said, “I have a job opening in human resources. Do you think you might be interested?”  I listened to him describe the role and then he told me to think about it over the weekend. I guess some people might have been offended. After all, I had been interviewing for a long time for the role in advertising. Early in the process, I had received two rejection letters before I was ever interviewed, and now, after all this time, it was being suggested that I consider a completely different path. My response to that question was life-changing. Of course, we never know it at the time. It is only when we have the opportunity to look back that we can see the inflection points and defining moments of our lives. It was one of my most important “yes” responses.

Over the next 18 months, my new boss taught me everything I could possibly absorb about Human Resources. I really had no intention of spending a career in HR. I fully expected to return to my prior career in marketing at some point. Surprisingly, my boss resigned his position to start his own business. Suddenly, I was unsure of what my future held. I remember thinking, “Maybe it is not too late and they will still take me over in the marketing department.” However, it wasn’t long before I discovered that marketing was not my true calling. I was called to help other people find and fulfill their calling. If I had not said yes to that casual question at the end of a long interview, I might have missed an amazing opportunity.

The third most important decision I ever made was committing to my calling. It set me up for a lifelong passion of helping create and build organizational culture and select and steward extraordinary talent. Without someone else identifying those gifts in me, I would have not imagined that path for myself. Learning to make good life decisions early in life is an important skill if we are to fulfill our destiny. How do we make important life decisions? I have found listening gives me the most insight to make a good life decision.

Who should you listen to to make life decisions? Here are 3 suggestions:

  1. Listen to the spirit within you.  As a person of faith, this means listening to God’s voice and how he is directing me. If we spend time alone and are still long enough, we can sense the direction. For me, God’s voice is the most important to hear and follow.
  2. Listen to the advice of those who know and love you. The people in our lives who care for us most can see the blind spots we miss. They can also see talents and abilities that we may not recognize in ourselves. Often times, it is our family and closest friends that have discernment to see if a choice is good or bad for us.
  3. Listen to the experts. Lastly, there are people uniquely qualified to give us advice. Pastors can lead us in our faith. Marriage experts and pre-marital counseling can help us make the right decision about a spouse. Career counselors, mentors and other leaders can help us discover our unique career path.

The decisions we make when we are young can set us up for tremendous success or devastating disappointment. Listen to voices that help you and make wise choices.