Our young adult children are coming of age during a time unlike any we’ve ever known. Although they likely have grown up with specific hopes and dreams for their future, the ability to achieve those hopes and dreams may now feel tempered by the uncertainty in our world.
As a parent, you may notice they express more fear and hesitation about their future. It’s possible they had to put some of their life or career plans on hold, and they may feel like they’re losing momentum during a crucial time. This frustrating reality can make them feel stuck in a rut, unsure of what to do next.
It’s important to remind our kids that there is still plenty of reason to hope. The U.S. remains unique: its citizens have a long history of pulling themselves up “by their bootstraps” to achieve amazing things. There are always opportunities out there if we look for them, and if we’re willing to get creative about seeking them out.
That’s why it’s more important now than ever to encourage the young adults in our life. As they cross big milestones—graduating from high school and college, starting careers, or experiencing the inevitable obstacles that come with their 20s or 30s, we can remind them that their future can still be wonderful. They can still achieve their dreams. But it won’t happen if they simply wait for opportunity to knock, or for good things to come their way.
Here are four ways to encourage your kids to take control of their future and build the extraordinary life they imagine.
Start with Mindset
Discuss the importance of mindset with your child. Realizing the bright future we want starts with having the right mindset and the right attitude. When we embrace a positive mindset, we refuse to let bad experiences define or drive us. Instead, we look for ways to turn them into learning opportunities. That doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen. But we learn how to reframe them.
As Bob Moward of the Edge Learning Institute so aptly said, “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours—it is an amazing journey—and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
Help Clarify Their Vision
One of the best investments anyone can make is to spend time creating a clear vision of their future. It starts with asking one simple question: “What would my extraordinary life look like in five, ten, or 20 years?”
Encourage your adult child to imagine that future as vividly as possible, jotting down the details—both personal and professional. They may want to start with bullet points and then add specifics. They shouldn’t get bogged down in listing every detail involved in making it happen—they can always revisit and revise. Once they have a clear vision, it’s easier to break it down into long-term and short-term goals, making everything seem more manageable and allowing them to intentionally work toward their goals each day.
Suggest They Find a Champion
It’s tough to create an amazing life without partners and champions to help us along the way. A champion is both a cheerleader who encourages our dreams and an advisor who helps us find our way amidst challenges and frustrations. A champion is someone we can rely on to provide honest, supportive feedback.
Without these allies, reaching goals and dreams can be a long, lonely road. It is too hard to go it alone, so finding a champion or group of champions can make all the difference when it comes to navigating the inevitable ups and downs along the way to achieving our dreams.
Take the First Step
It’s important for your child to understand the importance of taking that all-important first step. Dreams never have a chance to be realized if we are unwilling or unable to take that first step towards them. When we simply let dreams rattle around in our head and never take action, they easily wane, seeming more and more impossible over time.
Taking the first step gives a boost of energy and starts building momentum, making steps two, three and four seem so much easier. Breaking each step down this way helps avoid a sense of overwhelm as well. When goals seem enormous, the journey does as well.
That first step doesn’t have to be complicated or big. It could just be telling a friend, mentor or family member about a new goal. It could be solidifying and posting our new vision in a visible location to revisit daily. Regardless of the specific action, the important thing is to simply get the ball rolling. From there, the next question is “What’s the next step … And the next?”
There are innumerable opportunities still available to young adults today. The key is their willingness to approach life and their goals with a sense of ownership and proactiveness. Encourage them to grab life with both hands and to seize whatever the day or this season might bring them. We all only have our one life to live. Let’s make it Limitless!
About the Author
Peter Ruppert is founder and CEO of Fusion Education Group, which operates over 75 Fusion and Futures Academies for grades 6-12 in one student, one teacher classroom environments, both in face-to-face schools and on-line. A 20-year veteran of the education industry, he’s opened over 120 schools and acquired more than 25 others. He’s been president and CEO of organizations in the private school, charter school, and early education industries, and served on his local public school board for 5 years. He lives with his family in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. His new book is Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life. Learn more at peteruppert.com.