While many of us are gearing up for another school year, it is a good time to remember that there are important lessons to learn both in and outside of the classroom. The key is to pay attention.

To truly pay attention we must be present.

This may be obvious in the classroom when the teacher calls the roll. It is also true when we are exploring and discovering the role that calls us.

Most of us want to do meaningful work. While the job market and the way we seek employment has changed a lot over time, one thing remains the same. That is, our ability to connect to a Divine source that will lead us and guide us and show us the way.

The signs are always there to point us in the right direction. We must learn how to see and read them.

Often the goal of a new school year is to prepare the student for the year that follows. When we spend too much time thinking about what is next, we lose sight of what is now.

Now is the moment in which we can be present. Now is where we learn that all is well.

It is so easy to stress over which classes to take, what major to claim or what direction to go in. These stressful times are good opportunities to ask and look for a sign that will lead us to where we need to be. In doing so, it is important that we trust the answer we get.

If this process is new to you, start with small decisions. Once you see the benefits of following through with the small stuff, you will gain the momentum and faith you need to try it out on bigger decisions and dilemmas.

The answers we get and the signs we see will often be very subtle. They are so subtle at times that they are easily missed if our lives are too busy, too loud or too cluttered.

When we slow our lives down and carve out some quiet time, we are more likely to hear and see the messages intended for us. We can gain extraordinary meaning from everyday moments.

When I look back on my career path, I can easily identify the random events that led me to where I am now. None of these particular events could have been predicted or planned. They unfolded in front of me and I acted on what I felt called to do.

I became a school counselor because of a casual conversation I had with my next door neighbor. I worked for a nonprofit because while I was volunteering, a position opened up. I am in my current role because of someone I met in church.

Following the signs we get doesn’t mean life will always be easy. In fact, we are often called to step out of our comfort zone and push through our fears.

Life is a series of classrooms where we have the opportunity to grow and learn the lessons intended for us.

There are no rules as to when we must master them. As long as we are here, there is more work to do and lessons to learn.

This school year brings with it a new experience for me. The empty nest.

It’s a bit quieter around our house. More space to hear the lessons I need to learn.

It can be easy and almost tempting to fill the space with other noise to avoid what the quiet has to offer. Sometimes our children can be an excuse or a distraction for us not to focus on our own lessons.

As parents we want to help guide our children down the right path. In doing so, we must remember that they are their own persons and they will have their own unique journey.

One of the best things we can do for them is to teach them how to be present, pay attention and notice the subtle signs along the way.

We do this best by example.

Now, we probably all have some homework to do.

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Lucy Wellmaker is a weekly blogger helping others discover deeper meaning to everyday moments at LucyWellmaker.com