Helping Your Kids Succeed
When I look back on my life as a young adult, it was a time of independence, confusion, and uncertainty. Shortly after high school, I found myself living in a house with two of my friends. For the first time in our lives we had independence! We could come and go as we pleased, eat what we felt like eating, and nobody bothered us! We basically did what we wanted, when we wanted. Although the independence was nice, this was also a time of confusion and uncertainty. What was the future going to bring? I knew I couldn’t keep working the part time job I had, but what was next? School? Career? Something else? I can remember not knowing what I wanted, but clearly knowing what I didn’t want.
Now that I am older, I hear parents of young adults saying the same thing about their kids. He’s not sure what he wants. She doesn’t seem motivated. They just need some direction!
Examples to Follow
Young people don’t have the experience that their parents have. So, when they are presented with options, and trying to figure out what to do with their lives, they look to role models. You may pick and choose a role model, or you might be influenced by the adults in your life. Either way there is a model that they will considering following. You can find dozens of stories about someone growing up to be the third or fourth generation in their family of a particular profession. Why? Because that was the model they knew and understood. In my particular case, until I was in my mid-twenties, my life course and my father’s decisions were almost identical. I looked at my father as a role model, and I ended up imitating his life for many years. For parents, it is important to become good examples for our children. Because like it or not, your kids will look up to you. But the pressure isn’t solely on our parents. I had coaches, teachers, community leaders that influenced me along the way as well. In the end, when I was confused, I grounded myself by following an example set by someone else, because that is what we instinctively do. Help our young adults find suitable role models and coaches to help guide them to a successful career path.
What Do I Want to Do?
When we’re little we always knew what we wanted to be when we grow up. I wanted to be an astronaut, policeman, and a fighter pilot! But at some point, you have to actually follow through and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I couldn’t be an astronaut, policeman, and fighter pilot… I had to choose! For young adults this is a confusing time. In college, one of my friends changed majors just about every semester. It seemed like every semester he’d take a new class, get excited about what he was learning and change majors! This isn’t unique to choosing a college major either. We all know people that change careers every couple years. Everyone wonders why they can’t just pick a job and stick with it. At this critical age, young adults are looking at their futures with uncertainty and optimism, but in their hearts, they know they actually have to start a career and be an adult. So, what do most of us do? We pick something that has been presented to us!
Path Presented to Me
Shortly after high school, I realized going to college or university wasn’t going to work for me. I lacked discipline and focus. Fortunately, I knew where I would get discipline and focus… I enlisted in the Navy. I took an aptitude test and from the results I was presented with a handful of careers to pursue in the Navy. Every job they presented to me had a six-year commitment. What if I don’t like it? Being the brilliant young man that I was, I picked my job for the next 4 years based on this question “What do you have that only requires 4 years?” Yep, I didn’t choose a job that would last six years, in case I didn’t like it. I took anything they would give me that allowed me to get out in four years. Seems like I had less chances of liking something that way, but there is 19-year-old logic for you! I got out in four years and went to college. I was an electronics technician, so it was logical for me to get into engineering. After college I took the first job offered, because I needed a job. That is what was presented to me and that is what I did for the next 14 years.
My story isn’t unique. Just this morning, I heard someone tell a similar story. He just “fell” into his profession. There are countless people who just fell into their professions. They needed a job and a company was hiring. End of story. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. What I didn’t know at that time, because nobody told me, is I can create the path that is presented to me. And when you listen to the story I did create the path that was presented to me. However, I didn’t put much thought into creating the path. I just moved from one phase of my life to the next, until one day I said, “ENOUGH! This isn’t what I want to do!”
Help for the Next Generation
When I was young, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. As I got older, the question changed to what I wanted to do after school, but it is the same question. I’d answer the question based on what I was feeling that day. The questions came from well intending adults, parents, relatives, teachers, coaches etc. But rarely, if ever, did I get much guidance on how to become what I wanted to be. I might have heard, you’ll have to go to college, or you’ll need to practice a lot, and things like that. But no one ever shared a plan for goal accomplishment with me.
To help our young adults make decisions now that will positively impact their futures, we need to help them dream, set goals, plan for success, and execute a strategy. When you think about it, that is what makes them successful in life. It’s not just a “get a job” skill, it’s a “succeed in life” skill! Creating plans and executing will not always be easy, but it is the first step to success! Let’ teach them how!
Do you have a young adult in your life struggling to find direction?
Shaffer Ingenuity can help you find what really drives you and provide you the tools to achieve those goals!
Quote of the Week
“All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them.”
– Magic Johnson
Photo by Giftpundits