Proven Tips and Strategies for Youth to Live the Best Post-Pandemic Life

My recent research highlights how the pandemic and lockdowns has led to increased anxiety among youth which, if not handled positively and carefully, can lead to depression. This is a reality and different people will react differently as well. So much depends on the individual’s experience during this pandemic, having someone they trust to talk to, and having someone to journey with them as they set new goals, possibly create new dreams and work hard to create a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

I have spent time reflecting on the interactions I have had with young people over the years. Thoughts and ideas spring to mind. As adolescents journey to adulthood, and while their brains are still developing, here are 30 tips which will encourage them to reach their potential – come to think of it, they should probably be called 30 Tips for the Best Life, as they can probably be adapted to the lives of adults as well. As a mentor you can print this out and discuss the content with your mentee and use it as a reference resource during the mentoring journey.

Attitude – never ever forget that you choose your attitude and how you respond to all that life throws at you. Live in hope and work hard at taking a positive, constructive attitude into everything you do and into all your meaningful relationships.

Ask – never stop asking questions no matter how trivial you might think they are. When others share their stories with you, you will gain knowledge which could significantly impact your life decisions.

Apologize – no-one is perfect. When you make a mistake, say the wrong thing, forget to do something you promised to do … whatever it might be, front up and be genuinely sorry.

Celebrate – celebrate the small and large victories; the times you achieve a relatively simple goal or achieve a long-term, major goal or when you successfully make it through a tough challenge. Never lose your sense of humor. Laugh often. Have fun.

Communicate – work consistently hard at developing and improving your communication skills. Become a brilliant listener, a motivator, encourager and inspiration to others. Develop a positive vocabulary, watch your body language and radiate care, compassion and unconditional love towards others. Show empathy, be genuine and respectful, and people will value your contributions to their lives.

Conflict – conflict is part of life. Learn how to turn conflict into a positive learning and growth experience. Deal with it without violating another’s rights and don’t run away from it. Develop mediation skills. Become a healer where there is tension, pain, misunderstanding and suffering. Peacemakers are desperately needed!

Failure – don’t fear failure. Move out of your comfort zone if the challenge is not life-threatening. Life lessons are learnt when you give something a go. The key is to learn from the experience.

Finish well – whatever you do, give it your best shot until you finish, even if this is simply completing something only you know about. Whatever you start, even when you decide it’s not something you wish to pursue, finish well. Those who finish well find more windows of opportunities opening and they will soar on eagle’s wings.

Goal-getting – be a goal getter. Experiment with different methods of reaching your goal/s until you find the best method for you. Draw up a clear action plan and take small steps initially. Research suggests that those who set goals achieve much.

Humility – stay grounded so you do not allow your achievements to go to your head. Be proud of all you achieve, and always be humble.

Integrity and Forgiveness – be a person of integrity, someone who keeps their word and on whom others can trust and depend. Be respectful of yourself and others. Be quick to sincerely forgive those who wrong you, even when you battle to forget.

Learning – never ever stop learning and acquiring knowledge. Knowledge feeds the soul and helps you to become an effective agent of change in your local and wider community. Research, read widely, consult others and explore the works, ideas and opinions of others.

Listen – always listen to the opinions and ideas of others. Older people have more life experiences and their stories can assist your personal growth. They also were adolescents. Through listening, you have the opportunity to discern information you would like to use and store or discard.

Mirror Talk – love the person you see in the mirror each day. Remember you are unique and special and no-one else has your specific gifts and talents. It’s a fact – never forget that. Ignore those who tell you otherwise.

Money – avoid making money your God. It won’t and never can be. While it’s wonderful to have sufficient money to feed, clothe, house and educate ourselves, later to raise a family in a safe and secure environment, money will not buy you happiness, nor will owning the biggest and best TV, mobile phone, or other item of technology. Seriously consider how you can contribute financially to end global poverty and, as you do so, it’s likely you will be making a positive contribution towards environmental issues as well.

Opportunities – engrave into your Being that every obstacle can be turned into an opportunity if you are prepared to think creatively, seek the guidance and wisdom of others, and have the patience to work towards something, rather than expect a quick-fix solution or display instant gratification. This is how you develop resiliency which helps you bounce back from adversity and teaches you which strengths will help you overcome most challenges.

Passion/s – identify your passion or passions. If you could do anything you wanted today and had all the qualifications you needed, what would you choose to do? That’s your passion – do something with it! Chase it!

Persevere – don’t quit! Go the extra mile even if you have to sweat a little, make some sacrifices (of social life) or commit yourself to something for a little longer. You will amaze yourself at what can be achieved when you do this.

Positive Peers – when you surround yourself with positive peers you will have a greater chance of reaching your potential. Positive peers know right from wrong – always choose your friends carefully and let trust develop over time.

Reflect – take time out each day to think about how you are doing, what you are doing, why you are doing it and what lessons can be learnt. Pray, meditate and be still for a few minutes [at least ten minutes] each day.

Relationships – keep building your relationships and networks with peers, family, other adults (teachers, coaches, people you trust), employers and, most important, with God – that’s a challenge, but the soul needs to be nurtured. To be loved unconditionally is an amazing experience and it’s something every honest human being desires.

Self-discipline – build a disciplined lifestyle into all you do. Some examples: nine hours sleep a night (don’t make excuses about that!); a balanced lifestyle (at least thirty minutes of exercise every second day); manage your time well (time to work, time to study, time to eat, time to socialize and relax, time to exercise, time to follow an interest or hobby, time to sleep); say ‘no’ to drugs and alcohol abuse (so you don’t damage your brain during crucial developmental times), cigarettes, vaping, and inappropriate sexual behavior.

Service – give of yourself to others expecting nothing in return. Involve  yourself in outreach programs. Through reaching out to others, you can discover many more positive qualities about yourself. Sometimes a friendly smile directed at a stranger or a peer can change their day. The world needs servant leaders – become one.

Share – share your ideals, passions and goals with at least one adult you trust and respect, in addition to your parent/s (optional). This is the person who can guide and encourage you non-judgmentally towards achieving your dreams. This experience teaches you how to be vulnerable with others in a safe and secure environment, a necessary life skill.

Stay focused – keep your eyes on your personal photograph at all times (see visualization below). That will get you through the tough and challenging times. There are no quick-fix, easy solutions. Success takes consistently hard work, careful planning and perseverance.

Take ownership – write down in the present tense i.e. as if you are achieving your goal/s today, how you are feeling e.g. “I feel …because …” Take ownership of your picture.

Teamwork – always seek to be a team player, a sure way to develop positive peer relationships, have role models in your life, be an encouragement to others, turn obstacles into opportunities and reach out to those in need.

Thanks – always express your genuine thanks to all who share their gold nuggets of wisdom and experience with you or offer you a helping hand.

Visualize – create an imaginary photo (or a real one!) of yourself achieving whatever it is you would like to achieve i.e. as though you have already achieved it. Note your body language, your facial expression, your positive thoughts – never let go of it.

Mentoring Jobs?!

It is interesting to see how mentoring has grown in recent decades and the variety of jobs now available to someone with mentoring skills and an interest in mentoring. Click here to check out one website that displays a variety of mentoring related jobs.

CHOICES: Encouraging Youth to Achieve Greatness

In September 2021 my final book aimed at encouraging anyone working with youth was published, though I have had to hold back a book launch until our lockdown levels are lifted. CHOICES: Encouraging Youth to Achieve Greatness outlines how my mentors, coaches, teachers and others guided me through a cancer journey as a young boy and then how I became a teacher and created a proven framework from my own experiences to create meaningful relationships with youth. During my teaching, coaching and mentoring career I mentored over 1,000 young people in 1:1 face-to-face relationships – each a unique experience. This book will explain the above thoughts in more depth. The book is also available on Amazon and Kindle and, if you live in New Zealand, you can buy it directly from me if you click here.

Positive face-to-face relationships are key to the health and well-being of our youth in a post-pandemic world. CHOICES: Encouraging Youth to Achieve Greatness inspires and guides parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, and youth workers–significant adults–to use the proven CHOICES framework to motivate youth to achieve greatness or reach their potential no matter what their circumstances might be. Hundreds of tips and strategies to connect with and inspire youth are shared in this user-friendly book, together with true stories of Robin Cox’s interactions with some of the teenagers he has mentored in different countries to give credibility to the CHOICES framework. Proven education and youth mentoring strategies are linked with recent adolescent brain research. CHOICES invites readers to reflect on their own adolescent journey to appreciate some of the challenges today’s youth face, and reminds them of the importance of positive relationships in the lives of increasingly anxious, confused, or underachieving young people. CHOICES offers messages of hope to all who wish to be an optimistic voice in the life of our youth. Tips and strategies linked to goal-setting, effective communication, and resiliency can enhance the quality of teaching, mentoring, and coaching in a global community in which most youth are desperate to be heard and supported. Anyone who genuinely believes that youth are the future will value this encouraging book.

“Cox has managed to distill decades of expert teaching and mentoring into this easily read work. CHOICES presents sound wisdom, insights, and strategies for guiding young people through the turmoil of life and the world around them. This exciting book should be compulsory reading for every teacher or pastoral-care worker and every parent who aims to grow happy, significant adults.”

—Paul Fleischack, Senior Deputy Rector, Michaelhouse

“Ken Blanchard, in his book Lead Like Jesus, suggests that ‘anytime we seek to influence another person we are acting as a leader.’ Robin Cox has been that leader for decades. He has influenced countless people, but his passion, because of his story of growing up, is the leadership of youth. This book brings together four decades of experience in influencing young people’s lives that has helped thousands to ‘achieve greatness.’”

—Paul Browning, author of Principled: 10 Leadership Practices for Building Trust

CHOICES is a wonderful collection of stories of personal interactions that Robin has had over a long career. His practical advice, useful questions, and easy-to-read style of writing make this an excellent book for any teacher looking to mentor and guide
developing young teenagers.”

—Tony Reeler, Principal, Bishops Diocesan College, Cape Town, South Africa

“Robin Cox has a wealth of experience gained over many years of successful practice in youth mentoring. His books are always full of hints and practical advice for mentors to follow. CHOICES is a sensible, credible, and relevant handbook that provides a wealth of practical approaches for successful youth mentoring.”

—Bill Gavin, former Secondary School Principal, the New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network

“Making good decisions when faced with possibilities is one of the premier challenges we all face in life. When young people feel appreciated and cared for, they meet challenges and do even better than expected. CHOICES is a tool that provides youth with the ability to probe, question, debate, and feel supported. Through the exercises, trusting relationships are formed that lead to making the best choices.”

—Susan G. Weinberger, President, Mentor Consulting Group

“In Robin’s succinct and easily approachable CHOICES, he provides a means for those of us who would like to be more effective as mentors to our youth, with a practical way of doing so, based upon latest brain research and a long life of mentoring experience. . . . He unpacks the theory behind the approach but bolsters this with eminently practical advice that any of us can follow. This book is a distillation, like a precious and rare perfume, of the hard-won lessons in love from a very good man. Read it!”

—Andrew Cook, former Executive Head, Mitchell House