The pressure of trying to figure out what you want to do with your life can be overwhelming for anyone. I know some adults who are still trying to figure it out.
Imagine being a teen. They have the structure of going to school, doing homework and activities, having summers off, and so forth. They are accustomed to parents, teachers, or coaches telling them what to do. Then, as their high school years come to an end, they are left with the question – – what’s next? What do I want to do now? What is going to make me happy for the rest of my life?
Many students choose to go to college because that’s the easiest answer, right? It’s what we did back in our day because that was the only option. The choice was to go to college and then figure out the rest. Take some classes and see what interests you.
It was OK to take that route back then, but there are significant risks now. There’s racking up lots of student loan debt or dropping out of college because it wasn’t the right fit. The worst risk for a parent is seeing your child feeling defeated and lost because they just can’t figure out what will make them happy. On top of that, there are simply way more options for career paths than we had as teens.
How can you help your teenager answer the overwhelming questions of, “What do I want to do next? What do I want to do with my life?”
Let’s break it into easy brainstorming conversations you can have with your teen.
Brainstorm Topic 1- Begin with the End in Mind
The end does not have to be the rest of their life but what they envision for their 20s. Ask questions like:
- How do you see your life in your 20s?
- How much money would you like to make?
- Where would you like to live – in a different city or state? If so, where?
- What do you think the cost of living is there? How could you find out?
- What activities outside of work do you want to do?
Brainstorm Topic 2 – Careers
Start identifying careers that would make them happy to get up and go to work. Ask questions like:
- What would an ideal career look like to you?
- Would it be working indoors or outdoors?
- Would you want to travel for your job?
- What careers have you thought about?
- What industries have you considered?
- How much do you think those careers pay? How can you find out?
Brainstorm Topic 3 – Education
Identify potential educational paths for the identified careers. Ask questions like:
- What education do you think is necessary for the jobs that interest you? How could you find out?
- What type of education would you like to achieve next? College? Trade school? Certification? Military? And why?
- If you want to go to college, what does your ideal school look like? Class or campus size? Location? Extracurriculars?
After these conversations, your teen will likely realize that more research is needed to narrow down what they want. Many additional, specific action steps will be necessary to get them to their next educational path.
This is why starting these conversations during your student’s freshman year of high school is so important. It allows you to ask questions and help them plan versus quickly figuring it out during spring of their junior year or, worse yet, senior year. Waiting until the last minute is asking for major anxiety and will prompt your teen to shut down.
Before you have these brainstorming conversations, be sure to read my article, Discussing Your Teen’s Future While Avoiding the Eye Rolls. I offer great tips to help make these conversations more productive.
Remember, don’t delay. The high school years will come to an end before you know it. Are you interested in learning more about helping your teen plan their future? Schedule a free College Assessment Plan call with me today.