From my years working with teens, I have noticed that when a teen connects with their interests they are more focused on their future. They tend to be more motivated, as they press forward and over obstacles to obtain their goals. But how do we help our teen find their passion and make time in their schedule for career development? Here are 6 simple activities to help teens discover their passion and purpose!
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6 Simple Ways to Encourage Teens to Discover their Passion and Purpose
Sometimes, as parents, we can develop tunnel vision in our teen’s high school years, just trying to get them to the graduation ceremony. We want to check off all the right boxes! But in the midst of ensuring they are keeping up with their studies, making it to practices, navigating the social scene and helping out around the house, don’t forget to include career development into their education.
By applying any of these activities (or several of them) you will naturally challenge your teens, ignite their interests and put them on the path to uncovering what they love to do!
Volunteer to Discover One’s Purpose
When the main focus in not on hustling to get the bills paid, teens can use their most valuable commodity. Time! One of teenagers most valuable commodity is time! Using it now can put them on the fast track later! Watch for ways for your teen to volunteer in an area that they would love to explore.
No need to wait for a paying job if a teen can jump in now gaining valuable experience!
Non-profits (food pantries, humane societies, Red Cross, etc…) and churches are run on volunteers. Connect with others in the community and see what awesome opportunities lay right within your town.
We live in a small community, but even within our city exciting volunteer ventures are available. Volunteering led one of our teenagers (and me…but that’s for another post) to a fulfilling, paying job later.
Many high schools still have teens volunteer as part of a community service for their education. Don’t waste the opportunity rushing to get that box checked off or following friends. Look for a place to volunteer that makes them want to jump out of bed to get there first!
Check out this fabulous post from Sara at Experiential Learning Depot on 10 Summer Experience Ideas for High Schoolers to Boost Their Resume. Loads of tips on ways to use summer and volunteering hours to help your teen gain knowledge and discover their career interests!
Look for Crossover Opportunities in the Same Field
Some teens have a main interest that they are earnestly developing. However, be on the watch for ways to expand their knowledge so that they are multi-talented within the same field.
Say, for example, that they love sports. Explore opportunities to teach younger kids the sport at a summer camp. Work as a referee for a season. As they expand their knowledge outward they may discover that they are even more passionate about another job within their current interest. Or it may be the little extra on their resume that gets them noticed.
Develop Mentors and Learn More
Does your teens have crazy skills in an area you are clueless about? It happens! Don’t despair!
There is probably someone you know that would be delighted to discuss art or tech stuff or whatever it is that your teen seems to naturally love. Invite them over for an evening or see if they could use some extra help on a project.
Perhaps they can take a class or join an activity where they will develop friendships and gain leadership in an area that they are craving to learn more.
Cultural Experiences May Inspire Interests
Participating in cultural experiences within the greater community exposes them to interests from all over the world.
Going to museums, a play, a concert or an exposition opens minds to visualizing things or a way of life they never even imagined. Parents and grandparents sharing what they love can stir up or fuel an interest so that it grows to a passion.
While I would rather take my daughter to a cat show or a museum, I understood the importance of us all going to a farm expo last year. And while it was not quite as stimulating as say the Dayton Air force Museum, even this city gal learned a few things. Did you know that there is a driverless tractor??
Read more here on How Sharing Your Interests Will Help Your Child Succeed!
Part-time Jobs are Pivotal to Career Development
Time to get a job! Most teens will need a little push to find that first job. They may appreciate some help some with where to look and how to fill out an application.
Before you delve in, have a conversation about various options. Weigh the pros and cons. Discover if there is a job they can secure that will help them explore a passion or uncover something about themselves.
Would one job allow them to develop a transferable skill that they could take with them? Customer service, multi-tasking, problem solving are examples of transferable skills that once you conquer them are invaluable in many different settings. Waiting tables can translate to learning how to remember details and keeping calm under pressure. Those are transferable skills one will definitely need working in a fast paced environment later.
Spread the word in your friend and family sphere. Chances are others know of job possibilities that you have not heard about yet.
Talk and Help them Process their Experience
This may seem simple, however it is one of the best ways for your teen to gain information. As a parent, you have a much bigger view of the world. You can help your teen translate what they have learned into valuable and tangible information.
Every job, no matter how short or small, allows one to learn another aspect about oneself. Processing this valuable information moves them from simply collecting a pay check to personal development!
Here are some great questions to ask your teenager:
- Did they love or hate their last job.
- What in particular did they love?
- What tasks did they enjoy doing?
- Which age group did they like working with the most?
- Do they wish they worked with more or less people?
- What did they like or dislike about the schedule?
- What would have made their job better?
- Did they like how their boss gave them direction?
- Would they have preferred more direction or more freedom when instructed on tasks?
THE best book out there is What Color is Your Parachute for Teens: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for Your Dream Job by Richard N. Bolles. It is such a great book. This book guides you and your teen slowly through small exercises that help create a whole picture of a world of possible career options for your teen!
The exercises are fun and doable. I have walked with many teens through the book. And while some teens feel uncertainty when they think about a future career, What Color is Your Parachute for Teens, helps to break down a big topic into bite size pieces! Love it!
And parents, the best part, you will learn a lot about yourself too as you go through the book together:)
6 Activities to Help Teens Discover Their Passion and Purpose
As teens began to explore and expand their interests they will gain such great experience.
They will be able to verbalize more accurately what it is they love. Often, they will discover a career field that they want to dive into and study in college or in a continuing education course. They can avoid some of the pitfalls of choosing future jobs that don’t suit them.
And most importantly they will gain confidence as they stretch themselves, recognizing that they are unique in their gifts and skills!
Did you find this post helpful? Follow me on Facebook where we discuss other parenting tween and teen concerns! Catch my Facebook Lives on Thursdays and watch as we discuss Reader Questions of the Week – where we talk about the things that are on your mind! Watch this discussion on Facebook – How to Use Chores to Connect Teen to the Family!
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Thanks for all the great ideas, Miranda! I just read another blog post that focused on talking to our teens about their future. It recommended brainstorming with them and then also helping them to think about interests and plans realistically based on their abilities and potential. Your advice came just at the right time as we’re planning for another school year.
Sounds like a great article! I agree. Simply discussing and brainstorming with your teen is invaluable. Teens often change what they like or dislike, and we don’t know how exactly God wants to use them in the future. However, we can walk with them through the process encouraging them in their plans. Such a privilege to see our children grow up!!
Wish I had heard some of this as a teen!
Thanks Matt, though I think 2 lifetimes would not be enough for you to discover and develop all your ideas!
Elizabeth Lueck says
WoW!! Even at my stage of life as an older woman there is such richness in your ideas and suggestions!
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks! That means a lot. If there is one thing I have learned from you is that it is important to always continue to grow, no matter your age:)
Tara | i Dream of simple says
This is a great post I will refer back to when my kids are a little older (only 1 and 4 right now). What a great idea to expose your children to different aspects of society and make a good use of their free time. My brother actually discovered he wanted to go into nursing after he volunteered in a nursing home for a semester in school. You never know unless you try it!
That is such a neat story Tara! Thanks for sharing about your brother.
Miranda, this is fantastic information! Summer would be a great time for Karly to try volunteering.
Melanie Studer says
Yes to the soft skills!! They need jobs to learn these!
Yes, it is amazing all the skills kids can learn from volunteering and working various part-time jobs!