It’s well known that a fresh start will do you wonders. 

Inside our brains we code the change as if we’re moving into a new room. Once we get into the new room and immerse ourselves in the energy of new beginnings, it makes sense tto close the door on our past. To fully start again.

When you have an adolescent who is experiencing anxiety and/or depression, harness the power of a new beginning. Talk about what their life will be like in the future. Encourage them to explore their approaching (or current) working life as something to aim for. Many teens experience anxiety around the idea of ‘making a choice’ or ‘having to decide’. It is worth pointing out to them that they don’t have to know exactly what their life is going to look like. The reality is, none of us have a crystal ball. We can guess, we can set our sights and aim for something, yes. But NONE of us can predict, with 100% accuracy, what tomorrow will bring. 

When it comes to figuring out what your adolescent will be doing for the rest of their lives, the pressure is OFF. 

Now is the time to explore things that interest them. That may be study, or a course. It might be working in a supermarket. Perhaps it’s volunteering in a field they have an interest in. Whatever they choose to do won’t be wasted; it will have learning opportunities within it. 

Put some time aside to make a list of possibilities. What are the things your adolescent would like to do? Write it all on the list. Even the things that say, “spend my life in bed,” or “gaming.” It’s not a contract, it’s just a list. Expect to have at least 10 options on the list. They might say, “Travel the world,” or “Earn $10,000,000.” Resist the urge to second guess these statements with an adult comment like, “how do you think you’re going to do that?” The point of the list is to harness a future for your adolescent. They don’t have to know how it’s going to happen. Have an initial brainstorm, then leave the list in a place that is not open to public scrutiny – you don’t want another person walking past, reading the list and immediately squashing all their ideas with a negative retort – and still accessible for adding/deleting things. Encourage your adolescent to connect with their friends and find out if there are things they’re doing that spark any interest. It’s okay to add ideas ‘borrowed’ from friends to the list.

We, as parents, can’t possibly know how the job market will look in the future. Keyhole surgery was unheard of when I was a teen, as were playstations. It now turns out that the most successful keyhole surgeons are the ones who spent time on playstations during their adolescent years. The rate of technological change we are undergoing will affect the job market after our adolescent has taken a first step into it. The skill of flexibility is something that will serve them well. 

After a week it’s time to revisit their list. Check for any changes or things to add. And arrange a time to work through the list, knowing that things will change. To each idea, apply a 3 question rule 

  • Where will this take me?
  • How will it support me?
  • Does it belong in work or in leisure? 

The most important step for a teenager to take is just that – a step. And then notice where it leads them. Our parental wisdom lies in being able to guide our adolescents towards careers they love, they enjoy and they want to get out of bed for. We know how a job we love makes us feel. And that’s the most important piece of the puzzle. 

If you are wondering how to even start getting your adolescent to talk to you about careers and their interests, then you need ‘Teen Talk.’ It’s an online course that teaches you all the skills you need to build and keep a deep, robust relationship with your teenager. A relationship that will take you into the future. Follow this link to sign up. And be the parent who is a person they turn to when they have a knotty problem to discuss.