Teens are frequently told how important it is to keep their options open. They hear this when they get a low grade. They are told this when they procrastinate and fail to do their best work. They are told this when they are encouraged to stay on a team or stick with some extra-curricular even though they’ve lost interest or are burdened with too much to do and too little time.
Parents are often encouraged to ensure their teens keep all their options over. They hear this from educators, from college counselors, from media and from other parents. They feel the importance of this based on their own life experiences, from mistakes they made and things they wished they’d done differently.
While from one perspective Choice Is Power (i.e. having multiple ways to manage challenges is an advantage), from a different perspective though – and one that is most relevant to teens and young adults – too much choice makes things more difficult.
For teens and young adults who need to make critical life decisions though, it is substantially more helpful and useful to have less choices, than it is to have more.
The process of eliminating choices though, must be done appropriately for each individual. One of the simplest ways of thinking about this is the idea that there are things in life that energize us and things that drain us.
In the ideal life we maximize the time we spend doing things that energize us and minimize the time we spend doing things that drain us. Of course this is the ideal. Life will always require we do things like pay the bills and clean the house… things that drain us, unless of course you are a person who loves accounting and bookkeeping or organizing things, in which case that become energizing.
At HeroPath we guide teens and young adults through a process that helps them clarify the things they can comfortably and confidently eliminate from their list of options, as well as to identify things that should definitely stay. We do this though more than just identifying their interests and strengths. We go in depth to look at aspects of their inherent temperament and of aspects of their personal character traits.
They quickly learn how critical it is to not overlook things like whether or not they like being around lots of people a lot of the time, whether or not they function well in high pressure situations, whether not they are urban people or prefer to come home to a more spacious, quieter surroundings… We factor in how much of certain career paths will demand they do tasks that may not come easy to them, and if this is something they can sustain over the long term.
The list is far more exhaustive than that, but it has helped many people eliminate certain career paths they had considered, or on a more intricate level, identify which jobs are not the right ones for them, even though the career path is.
One of the greatest gifts HeroPath offers, is the things we help them give up. Not the ones we help them get.