HOW YA GONNA GET THERE?
Absolute basic fact learned 25 years ago: the more specific the goal, the easier it is to achieve – and the reverse: the more vague the goal, the harder it is to achieve.
When we surveyed parents asking their goal(s) for their teenager, the most frequent reply was “to be happy.”
With total respect and appreciation, that's not very helpful. What IS happiness?????
Happiness is achieving or fulfilling a goal.
Happiness is not possessions. Those are the rewards of success.
But back to happiness: happiness requires (!!!) a goal!
So if happiness for your teen is your goal, what's THEIR goal?
Think about things like
· type of work,
· indoors/ office or outdoors
· needed and desired finances/ salary, etc.
· family situation, kids if any
· where they’ll live - geographic location –
· and anything else you consider important or valuable.
Next key issue: ASK, DON'T TELL. As you consider these things, avoid TELLING your teen. Make this just subtle, conversation - ask 'softball' questions- not hard-edged challenging ones. Your role is to guide and coach, not to direct.
EXAMPLES to facilitate exploration with your teen:
· “What do you think you’d want to do with your life?”
· “What is it about that interests you?”
· “Hmmm, that’s interesting… are there other similar but different areas you might also enjoy?
· “What kind of education or experience will you need to be good at that?”
· “I’m not being skeptical, just wondering - what if that doesn’t work out for you, what else might fulfill you?”
· “Again, not being skeptical – can I help – only if you’d like, to explore other similar careers that might be just as entertaining to you, for you?”
· “How can I help or support you in getting there?”
Once you’ve begun this questioning, gently come back to it from time to time. Very often, the more you push, the more they’ll back away – so gauge your teen’s reactions and replies to guide your next steps.
[In ALL these questions, expect to hear “I don’t know” – a lot! Because in many cases, they’ve never thought about them before.
One way to help their thinking is to have 2 or 3 or 4 alternatives in mind when you ask the question. If they negate or reject them - fine! You and they have learned what they DON’T WANT!
It also helps to NOTICE what seems to make them happy. Very often, people don’t notice what makes them happy until later on.
Finally – DON’T make this a formal pursuit [or “investigation”] – just add it to your parental knowledge bank, to refer back to in guiding your teenager toward HAPPINESS!!