For my full-time job, I conduct individual counseling with young adults between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five. I quickly noticed a trend with this population. They struggled with what direction to go with their future.
It was not that they were not motivated, but rather lost, confused, and unsure. They genuinely do not know where to start. These young people are often left to fend for themselves and have never been taught how to develop, follow, and achieve their future goals.
Allow me to illustrate. Imagine if someone dropped you in the middle of the forest. You have no clue where you are. They tell you to find your way back. However, they do not give you any tools to do so. You only have yourself. They are no tools, no support, and no given destination. Imagine how you would feel in that given moment. On the other hand, envision the same scenario except this time the individual provides you with a compass, map, cell phone, and says meet me at the nearest gas station. There are supports in place, tools, and direction. Nice confidence boost, right?
That all sounds fine and dandy, but where to begin? Here’s how I see it. Rather than starting with the final destination, let’s start with what we have within ourselves. This goes back to an earlier blog entry I wrote several months back about validating yourself versus relying on external means (check it out here: https://caringcounselor.blog/2017/08/04/validating-yourself/ ). To summarize, if you stripped of everything, what would be left? This is where we look at your “core.” This includes, but is not limited to, your belief system, personality, and character. They are ingrained in us. This is what makes us tick.
I developed an exercise that might help with identifying core beliefs that I often use with my clients. I print out a list of common core values. You can print out the one I usually use at https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/my-career-path-activities/values-exercise.pdf. You can find your own though by simply conducting a Google search for “list of values.” Then, pick out the values that matter the most to you on the list. There is no limit to how many you can pick, but do not select all of them. Put some thought into what you value deep down. Use it as a time to reflect. Then, after the initial selections, go back and narrow it down to five or ten values that stick out. Think about what these values mean to you compared to the ones you left out. What makes them so important?
Here is the starting point. It is the beginning of validating yourself and knowing who you are. Understanding what is important to you helps you to look for those items in facets of your life. It acts as a guide in finding direction and decision-making. For instance, I had a good-paying job about a year ago, but I was working ten to twelve hours a day. I was quickly burning out. A job offer came up where I had to take a pay cut, but the workload was a fraction of my current job. It came down to what I valued more – wealth and money versus happiness and health. I took the job offer.
-The Caring Counselor