You had the conversations, brainstormed ideas, and came up with a list of questions to figure out the next best step. Now it’s time to take action! But how can you make planning for the future a manageable process for your teen?
For starters, your student must begin with the end in mind. They should ask themselves: What do you want to achieve? What is your big goal? Some example answers are, “I want to go to college and get a career in Accounting,” “I want to become an Electrician,” or “my current goal is just to figure out what I want to do after high school.”
Next, ask, “Why is this goal important for you to achieve?” Potential answers could be, “I want to be independent and live on my own when I am 22 years old,” “I want to earn enough money so I can live comfortably,” or, “I want to be happy in my life and career.”
Finally, your teen should ask, what steps are needed to reach my big goal? If you recall from my last blog post, Motivating Your Teen to Take Action on Their Future, I encourage students to get granular when making a list of steps to do. Breaking down tasks into specific action items with due dates will ensure nothing is overlooked and can help reduce procrastination. Small steps lead to big results. For example, instead of putting “take the SAT,” break it down further to include finding out when the test is offered, registering to take the test, and so on.
Keep in mind that most plans face obstacles that your teen will need to overcome. Be sure you don’t harp on your teen when they miss a deadline or skip an action step. Instead, figure out the challenge and identify ways to overcome it. Some obstacles your teen may encounter could be:
- Unable to find professionals to talk to in their career of interest
- Lacking the time or motivation to get action items done
- Can’t figure out what specific career they would enjoy
So, how can you help your teen overcome such obstacles? First, let’s diagnose the issue. Start by having them ask these questions:
- “Is it just that I don’t know what to do?” If they don’t know where to start, give them a nudge and provide the next easy step.
- “Am I afraid to reach out to professionals? Why am I afraid?” Many teens are not comfortable talking to adults or people they don’t know. Ask your teen what would make them comfortable. It could be talking them through what to say or doing an initial reach out to the professional your teen wants to interview. Remember, don’t do it for them. You could provide them with notes or a script.
If the issue is finding time or motivation, here are some ways you teen could overcome this obstacle:
- Set aside a specific amount of time to work on a task. Set the alarm on your phone and get to work. If you don’t finish it, take a short break and set your alarm again.
- Find an accountability partner who will make sure you get it done. Text a friend and say, “I will work on X task and aim to have it done by X time. If I don’t text back after that time has passed to say I got it done, text me and ask why I didn’t get it done.” It works like a charm every time for me.
- Find others working on their goals and encourage each other to keep going.
We’ve created a Charting Your Future Plan worksheet to make your teen’s action planning process even easier. It outlines everything mentioned above to help your teen get organized and off to a good start with planning.
Helping your teen plan their future can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you and your teen would like to chat more about charting their future, I am happy to help. Schedule a complimentary College Assessment Plan call with me today.