When you were a teenager, did you ever feel that your life had no purpose? Maybe you were drifting? Did you feel the pressure of having to conform to peers to feel that you belonged? Did you have bold dreams , yet were afraid to chase them? Why was this? Did you risk failure to achieve something special? Did you allow either positive or negative friends to influence you the most? Did you have to overcome some obstacle, illness or other setback?
Mark, a talented sportsman, Brittany, revealing signs of antisocial behavior, Ollie, disengaging from school, Holly, feeling overwhelmed with life’s challenges and Mia, facing the real prospect of failing, were young people I worked with over a period of time, encouraging them to strive to reach their potential.
Although these are not their real names, each one of them made significant choices and now, some years later, to the best of my knowledge, they are all achieving great things because each of them followed the overwhelming majority of the 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be which helped them develop lives with meaning and purpose. The idea of framing a teenager’s life around these 10 Habits was developed over many years of coaching and mentoring young people. These habits provide an achievable set of guidelines or targets one can chat to teenagers about.
When a young person feels unconditionally cared for, that their opinions are listened to and valued and they begin to start seeing some meaning and purpose in their lives, they are well on the way to fulfilling their potential.
10 Habits to Become the Best you can BE
These 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be, which are unpacked in a user-friendly book for teenagers, Letter 2 a Teen – Becoming the Best I can be, will provide young people with important choices. When they have a significant adult walking alongside them – a parent, teacher, coach or volunteer adult mentor – as they choose their future pathway, more often than not you will witness significant, positive developments occurring, as well as the emergence of a more resilient person able to bounce back in challenging times.
1. Surround myself with positive friends and be a positive person of influence, becoming a great listener, respecting the viewpoints of others and a team player who prides myself on the responsible use of social media.
2. Follow a hobby or interest during the next 30 days. Listen to Music; study Art or Photography; take up reading; Dance, skateboard, try a new sport, create or develop something new …. broaden my interests; show a spirit of curiosity and inquiry.
3. Exercise at least 30 minutes every second day – at least 2.5 hours a week. Exercise is exceptionally good for my positive brain development.
4. Spend at least 10 minutes a day quietly reflecting on my life and purpose as I follow my passion/s. Get in touch with my feelings – own them.
5. Have at least nine hours of sleep every night, as sleep helps the brain consolidate memory and learning, helps my diet and also helps me to manage my stress better.
6. Join a youth, cultural or community club, so I learn how to appreciate, respect and tolerate different people and cultures.
7. Seek three adults I trust with my life (in addition to my parents), and stay in touch with them as they become my wise guides on the side, my non-judgmental Cheerleaders.
8. Give priority in my life to my school subjects, tertiary study program or work (career journey), seeking to be innovative, entrepreneurial and creative, unafraid to step out of my comfort zone; willing to learn from those who have travelled before me – read history and great novels to improve my understanding of different thinkers and cultures; develop a strong work ethic.
9. Set myself specific, measurable, intentional, limited, extending (taking me out of my comfort zone), realistic goals that I know I can achieve using short and small action steps as I chase my dreams, supported by my Cheerleaders.
10. Be myself. I am unique. I can have fun. I shall do nothing that could possibly be life-threatening, though I know it’s okay to risk failure on my life journey of self-discovery and self-empowerment, as those experiences are an important part of my self-discovery and self-learning journey.
Lauren, a 10-year-old student, offers some wise words:
“Believing is a word that means thinking you can. If you fail to succeed, try, try again. Achieving is a word that means reaching your goal. But you must believe and look deep in your soul.”
Get to know a teenager before you try and influence too much
When you move alongside a teenager for a season of their lives, spend time getting to know them and what they are thinking. As you do this and reveal an empathetic and non-judgmental attitude, you will discover that they will open the door of trust and allow you into their lives. This will happen in different ways and at different times, dependent on the life journey of the individual you are communicating with.
Remember that you cannot rescue or fix the life of a young person. You quietly move alongside a young person and give meaning to the phrase, the ‘wise guide on the side’.
You coach and teach them how and when to be vulnerable and quietly equip them with key life skills and habits to give them a better than even chance of enjoying positive and fulfilling lives.
Free very short Podcasts to support mentors, coaches, teachers and parents
If you feel you need more direction and information about teenagers, you can discipline yourself to listen to one of the FREE Mentoring Matters podcasts each day through the year. These podcasts also contain many, many tips to guide your understanding of teenagers.
About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Facebook or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website Robin’s free Mentoring Minutes daily podcasts (each podcast between 1.5 and 3 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here. About 45 blogs have been converted to short video clips, all of which are linked to encouraging youth to reach their potential. These are available on YouTube https://www.youtube.