How To Help Teens Find Their Passions
I was recently asked by a friend to repost an article I had written about finding your passion. We both have seniors in high school who are headed off to college and she wanted a little guidance for her daughter in helping her find her passions.
As I went back and dusted off that post, I realized I really didn’t like it as it applies to young people. It was written more for adults who had been so busy with life, they had forgotten what their passions are.
I wanted to write something geared more for kids heading to college or just starting to make their way in the world. Having a 20 and almost 18-year-old, this is close to my heart.
There is so much pressure these days to be successful. Get straight As. Win first place. Make a lot of money. This is what society says we need to do.
But does this make people happy? Does this provide meaning and fulfillment?
As we send our teens and young adults off into the world, we want them to be successful, but more importantly, we want them to be happy.
We adults know, after being on the planet 40+ years, that in order to be happy, we need to do what we love. We need to spend time doing what we are passionate about.
We understand all too well how many hours of life we spend working and how great it would be to jump out of bed each day, excited to go to work.
We want this for our kids. We want them to live their lives in alignment with their gifts and passions and be able to make a living at it. It’s not always possible, but it’s a goal.
How can we encourage our kids to find their passions as they head out into the world?
Just as with adults, their passions are already inside them. They don’t need to be found, they need to be uncovered. Teens haven’t had many life experiences yet, so it’s likely their passions may not have been ignited. The trick is helping them find out what sets their soul on fire.
Adults often times know what their passions are, but bury them with mortgage payments, the 9 to 5 grind, and the expectations of the world.
We want better for our kids.
9 Things We Can Say To Kids About Uncovering Their Passions:
Try it all.
When I dropped my son off at college, I told him, “whatever experiences come your way, say yes.” If it’s legal and within your value system, try it! Try everything. New food. New experiences. New styles. Try it.
You will have inklings of what excites you. You may be interested in trying a painting class. You might love reading books about horses. You might dream about calculus equations. (Not me, but it could happen, right?) Explore these inklings. If something piques your interest-follow it!
Stick close to people who get you.
This is important in life in general. When you surround yourself with people who understand you, they will not try to discourage you. They won’t look at you funny when you say you want to take a modern dance class or you’re going to apply for a job as a basketball referee. Surround yourself with the people who support you.
Anything that comes your way – Do It! If someone presents you with an opportunity to travel to Italy – Take It! If someone gives you a chance to learn to ride a unicycle – Say Yes! The biggest regrets in life come from those things NOT done. New opportunities might be scary or take you out of your comfort zone, but do them anyway. (If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, read this.) When we pass up opportunities, we let life pass us by.
That brings me to the next point.
When trying new things, you will need to be your bravest self because sometimes new things will be uncomfortable. The fearful part of your mind will try to discourage you. Don’t listen! As long as these new things aren’t harmful, put on your big girl panties or big boy boxers and go for it!
Tip: The more new things you try the braver you will become! Don’t believe me? Read this!
Get acquainted with your inner voice.
Your inner voice is your biggest ally when it comes to uncovering your passions. Get to know her or him well. Here’s how.
Don’t worry about what others think.
I know this is easier said than done. Some adults aren’t even good at it, but it is important you not worry about the criticisms of others when you are exploring new things. Sometimes your passions might take you away from the status quo. That’s ok. Unless your passions are taking you in a direction that is harmful, don’t listen to what others say. Don’t worry about what others think of your passions. They are yours and they are perfect!
Follow the whispers of your soul.
Your soul will send you signals about what you are passionate about. Clear the noise and listen. The things that give you goose bumps or make the hair raise on the back of your neck with excitement or meaning, this is your soul whispering to you. Follow the clues.
Listen to your soul. S/he knows you best!
Chase after things that bring you bliss.
The things that make you happy – do those! Do them as much as you can!
There are things we can say to our kids to support them in finding their passions as they head off to start their lives. But, one of the surest ways we can encourage our kids to find their passions and live a vibrant life is to show them!
Are we following our passions? Are we setting an example of how to live a life we are in love with? Are our kids seeing us devote time to doing what we love? Are we showing them how we are chasing our dreams?
Our kids have their whole lives ahead of them. As parents, we want them to live life to the fullest; to take life by the lapel, give it a shake, and say, “I’m coming for ya!”
When we encourage them to be true to who they are and explore what makes their heart sing, we are setting them up to live a life of fulfillment.
The more we show them that uncovering their passions is a priority, the greater chance they have of living their life to the fullest in true alignment with who they are.
And as we help the young people in our lives find their passions, maybe we will discover some of our own along the way.
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