Finding our purpose in life is a journey of discovery. No one else can tell us what our life purpose is. Having a purpose allows us to become our best selves. Being ‘on purpose’ gives our lives meaning. For teenagers, purpose and meaning in career come under the spotlight at the prospect of leaving school.
Some young people know that they want to contribute to the fields of medicine, childcare, science or enterprise. Others are influenced by the ‘razzle-dazzle’ of celebrity, fame, riches, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Made in Chelsea, Premier League footballers and their WAGs, New York penthouses and jet-setting lifestyles. However, many teenagers haven’t thought about career planning, purpose or the commitment that is required to have the lives they desire. We’ve all been young and know that the teenage years are a period of exploration, and that many teens live for today and find forward-planning challenging.
There are things that young people can do though, to read the signs and discover ways to clarify their life purpose.
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1. Look beyond the razzle-dazzle
Young people can be captivated by the razzle-dazzle and Photoshopped images of celebrities. But Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Adele, Lionel Messi and Ed Sheeran are all grafters. They have immense grit and did whatever it took to achieve their success. At one stage, Ed Sheeran was homeless; he busked up and down England and showed up at small gigs before he made a breakthrough. Ask your teen to look beyond the success of celebrities and consider what they did to get there: doing whatever it took, hard work, grit, ambition and aspiration.
Beyoncé possessed two rare abilities; her first was an innate talent to sing and dance, but Beyoncé knew that talent alone would never be enough. She knew that practice, dedication, and sacrifice were every bit as important as raw talent. Young people need to consider how they can apply that same spirit of commitment to their craft and their careers.
2. The value of an apprenticeship: learn your craft
Young people need to bridge the gap between their heart’s desire or career vision and the realities of the working world. Young graduates may have to start at the bottom, on low salaries, and learn their trade. This requires patience. In his book ‘Outliers’, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. It’s important that young people fall in love with the idea of practice. They should aim for their career dream while still treating every task - no matter how small - as a stepping-stone along the way. In addition, they need to understand the value of committing to a company, work relationships and company goals. The reality is that the working world doesn’t always provide instant gratification, and a patient, long-term approach to work projects and goals is often needed. Have honest discussions with young people and help them to clarify their expectations about the workplace.
Career Coach and Guidance Counsellor