Every teen must make big decisions that will impact the course of their lives. In high school, this relates to which subjects they will study in VCE, which determine what ATAR score they may get, which determines what degree and University they will get into, etc. But behind those decisions, is another decision that plagues the mind of every teen, even when the pressure on them to make the decision is huge. And that is answering the age-old question of,
“What am I going to do with my life?”
And this pertains to the career path they will follow after high school. Is it really fair to expect all teens to know the answer to this at the age of 18 or usually younger at even 17 or 16 years of age?
There are three ways that most teens will face this decision, and many more of the big ones that come they way.
They will either Delay it, Avoid it or Delegate it. Let me explain.
Delaying their decisions comes down to putting it off to “Someday” when they feel ready to make the decision, or they are “waiting”… waiting to see what will happen in school, what their friends are doing, or for inspiration to magically appear.
Avoiding the decision all together is self-explanatory and teens will do one of two things; tell themselves, and others, they don’t need to decide, or simply rule out making a decision at all. They will have their reasons for this, which is either because they don’t want to decide out of necessity or expectations from others, or they are simply afraid to decide.
And then delegating the decision, means they leave the choice up to others. It could be to go with what mum and dad advise, what a friend suggests, what the teacher recommends, or what society and/or the media is pushing at the time. Handing over the power and responsibility to someone else to decide may feel easy at first, but then your teen risks the chance of being filled with self-doubt about the choices they’ve adopted, or resenting the decision because they know it didn’t come from them, and it isn’t really true for them.
Most teens will fall under one of these categories of decision making at some point, and when it comes to the end of high school where some of their biggest decisions need to be made, it’s concerning to think that their decision making is being left to chance, circumstance or conditions bestowed on them by others.
I know that for you, as a parent, you want the best for your teen. No doubt about it. If you see them not making decisions, and their inaction concerns you, don’t enforce your decisions onto your teen, and don’t just let them fall under one of the three categories mentioned either. Decisions can be made authentically and honestly, when a teen knows what is most important to them.
Before any decision is made, the mind will go through its Perceptions; those being the accumulated thoughts, ideas, visions, feelings and judgements our brain compiles based on the experiences of the past, the view of the present and the outlook on the future. For example, if a teen has had a bad history in education and is continuing to struggle currently, then their future outlook on further education is probably not strong. So going onto University is most likely not on their radar. Perhaps it’s working, or just taking time off to think about things. Not a bad move either, and this time out, or “The Gap Year” as it’s more commonly known, is a popular pathway for teens in the first year out of high school.
But understanding that perceptions influence our decisions, and decisions dictate our actions, what do you know about your teen’s perceptions? How do they view themselves? Their peers? You? The world at large? What is their understanding of work, further education, and gaining independence? What is their outlook on the future like; bleak and dark or bright and hopeful? As we all create our own perceptions, it can be hard to see someone else’s. But that’s where Life Coaching for teens helps.
With my 12 years experience working with young people from all backgrounds and walks of life, I have the right questions to draw from your teen what their perceptions are, even if they’re not fully aware. By asking certain questions, they will share things with me that say a lot about what’s going on in their headspace. I then ask them to consider how those viewpoints affect the decisions they make, or don’t make, and what results those decisions can bring. Using the creative power of the mind and foresight, I guide your teen to see how they will end up if they make certain decisions. And if the outcome is not appealing to them, I get them to go back to their perceptions, and “reframe” the way they see things.
The big decisions still need to be made, there’s no avoiding them. But by getting their mindset in the right place first, they will make smarter decisions, and follow through with clever actions, which improves their chances for good outcomes. This helps to ensure those big decisions are not only being made, but are being made with confidence and satisfaction from your teen, so they will follow through on those decisions.
- Life | Career | Youth Empowerment Coach | Workshop Facilitator and author of Setting Goals Using the Smartest Method.