Photo: Kym Ellis Source: Unsplash

As teenagers begin considering their options for their future, it’s important to remember that it is also at a time when they are also exploring their independence, pushing boundaries, figuring out what is important to them, and identifying their tribe.  With so much going on for them, it’s easy to see why teenagers can sometimes get distracted or lose focus on their dreams; having clarity and being purposeful about what they want today can have a huge impact on their future. Here’s how to convert that valuable time, energy, and talent into fuel for a healthy and happy life.

  1. Dream Big

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small”

– Richard Branson

A dream or an intention can be anything you want to achieve in your life – it can have a great or small influence on the world in which you live. In essence, it is about the impact it makes within your life that matters. Your dreams are your own, and the outcomes can only truly be measured by what you intended. What is important is a deep understanding of what you want to achieve; this will allow you the flexibility to pivot and change with the times, while still ‘keeping an eye on the ball.’

Having worked with many wonderful teenagers, and young adults over the years, I have had clients who have started their journey with me with little idea of what they want to do next in life, and others who knew what they wanted and why but not how they were going to work to achieve success. I always have one consistent message in my coaching sessions – having a successful career is something that is largely in your own control as long as you focus on what drives you from the core. You can overcome challenges and frustrations when the end goal is strong enough to pull you through.

By dreaming big, you are pushing yourself beyond your limits to accomplish goals that have a big impact for you. When you vocalize that big dream, you are committing and accepting that challenge, thereby giving yourself permission to explore new places internally, and opening up broader opportunities outside of your comfort zone. This is where growth lies, beyond your comfort zone, within the unknown of what could be. In the words of Les Brown, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.” 

How do you allow yourself to dream big? Learning more about what motivates you creates a deep understanding of your own unique belief systems, and thereby helps you to identify your deeper values and ambitions.  Too many people spend most of their lives comparing themselves to others or following the herd; owning your goals and allowing yourself to dream big is easy once you know your ‘why’.  When the competition against others is eliminated, you can enjoy the journey of achieving those big dreams. The journey begins to excite and create momentum within itself.

Instead of using others as a gauge for your growth and being fooled by their “masked” happiness, it’s important to stop comparing yourself to other people. Most people put the best vision of themselves in the public sphere. This is the best retouched and edited photo out of the one hundred others discarded. The people who see the end product wind up comparing themselves to an illusion of other people’s normal. I encourage my clients to spend time comparing themself today and tomorrow against themself from yesterday. You are the only true barometer for how much progress you have made, what is a fair and true comparison of growth, and ultimately, whether you like what you see.

2. Set the Right Intention for Your Future Life

“People are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

– Abraham Lincoln

The bedrock of career success is making confident choices built on your values, belief structures, strengths, and motivations. Self-confidence and positivity go hand in hand, and self-confidence means recognition, comfort, and awareness of your abilities, interests, and feelings.

You need to be able to believe in yourself to take the leap into aspiration. Self-belief is a process; as Jack Canfield notes, ‘You first have to believe that what you want is possible.’ The more self-awareness you have, the more achievable you will believe your goals are, rooted in a realistic career path, and opening up a future you can trust is right for you. 

Persistent and consistent self-reflection, and analysis of what motivates and what demotivates you, will help instill a growth mindset and open up choices, allowing you to find and action the outcomes that you want in life.  

Real clarity doesn’t happen overnight; it requires work and preparation. One needs to:

  1. Identify what’s important to you
  2. Set clear priorities
  3. Reduce distractions
  4. Commit to persistent and consistent self-reflection
  5. Use purpose ‘pauses’ to check in with what is still important to you

As you develop your career goals, take the time to analyze why you are reaching for those particular stars or even in that specific direction. Identify what you want, then set out and visualize how you will feel when you achieve that vision – this is an important step to setting and grounding your new intention. With this entire picture in hand, you will feel a deeper sense of control of the journey. You have clarity about who you are, what you want, and you will know when you have achieved what you set out to. This last step is almost as important as starting the journey because you will have resonance from your head, heart, and gut, know that you have achieved the goal and you can stop to recognize your work.

The next step is a daily commitment to the decision to activate your intention. This ensures that you stay focused and it deepens the enjoyment of your journey. I often remember a quote I heard once that says, ‘The clarity and connectedness of today bring happiness and joy in the long run.’ All too often we spend so much time looking at the end and not appreciating the journey.  Once you know who you are, why you are, and how you are, choices and decisions become a whole lot simpler.

3. Action Your Intention Daily

“The world belongs to the energetic.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The word decide comes from the Latin ‘decidere’, which literally means ‘to cut off’ i.e. to remove everything except the things that matter most. By making decisions, you determine what is important and create clarity, which in turn drives action.

John Maxwell keynote speaker and author of ‘Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success’, writes, ‘Successful people make the right decisions early and manage those decisions daily’.

Be clear about what you want for yourself tomorrow. Take several moments daily and remind yourself of that. Now you are in a great place. However, don’t confuse thinking about your intention with acting on your intention. My clients understand that the only way to leverage today to make sure you have a happy, successful tomorrow is by connecting that clarity to action. 

Some of my top tips for turning intent into action are:

  1. Document your intention
  2. Break it down into outcomes
  3. Share your plan with the people that matter to you
  4. Create small, measurable goals for your outcomes
  5. Track your progress
  6. Take a few minutes every day to self-reflect
  7. Be accountable for staying focused
  8. Be open to new opportunities and inputs
  9. Ask for help when you meet barriers

We are all human. Even when we set out with great intentions, life happens around us, so don’t be too hard on yourself during the times when you do get distracted. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint! Part of a balanced, happy life is having fun with people who relax, energize, and challenge you.  However, setting a strong intention that really resonates with you will focus you on what you want to achieve in your life. Building your daily life around what matters to you will in turn serve to keep you on track.


When we act on our beliefs and set our intentions, we will become the outcome. If you change your internal narrative and commit to your goals, your outcome will follow. We want our teenagers to have a healthy, happy life in the future, and that means we need to start teaching them the real tools of how to make that happen now. It’s essential that we actively support young adults to explore the right choices for them and find their career clarity. Clarity drives action, and our actions drive change, and through it all, don’t forget that you should be enjoying the journey along the way… the goal is only half the outcome.