Being wiser than 'wisdom'

By Scott Schimmel

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to about one hundred accounting students at the University of San Diego and lead them through interactive exercises to explore their inner lives to find clarity about their future. For an hour we talked about getting clear about what they believe in, finding a mission to pursue with their lives, and getting a vision for they kind of person they want to become. The main message for them was that now is a crucial time for them to get clear about who they are and where they’re going in life.

A professor in sat in during the workshop and walked with me for a few minutes as we wrapped up. He joked that while I was speaking, he turned to a student and said, “Hey- don’t feel pressure to have everything figured out at your age; I’m still figuring life out, too!”

He was letting me know that he disagrees with the YouSchool’s primary premise: that young people can get clear about important things in their lives. I let him know that I disagreed! Just because most older people are still figuring their lives out (or given up trying) doesn’t mean that young people should follow their example.

Here’s the point: young people can find clarity for a lot of important aspects of their lives.

They can get clear about who they want to grow up to be, they can get clear about what matters most to them, they can get clear about the kinds of relationships they want to build, they can get clear about what their strengths and interests are, and they can get clear about the life trajectory they are on. They can get clear about foundational things in their lives, which will lead to much more informed decision making. 

Getting clear matters, because our lives matter. The choices young people are forced to make impact their future work, family, character, and the mark they leave on the world.

Let’s all collectively stop encouraging young people to figure life out later, and give them appropriate anxiety about the importance of getting clear now. Good wisdom will lead young people to take responsibility for the direction of their lives, and guide them down a path to get to clarity.

There is a process to getting clear. It involves finding the time and space to commit to guided self-reflection, interactive conversations with peers and life advisors, and a trusted guide for the entire process. 

The first step is to decide that you want to get clear. 

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