Oftentimes, emerging adults are given generic advice about their future, something like:
Now, I don’t have anything wrong with those sentiments. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe those ideas have merit. In fact, I would choose that advice for my kids before I went with:
What emerging adults need, however, is a balanced, thoughtful approach to discernment. They need to be guided to explore their interests and passions and their innate talents and skills. They need help discovering pathways to pursue their aspirations. And they need help thinking through how they will pay for their lives.
Junior Achievement is a nationally recognized organization committed to helping kids succeed in a global economy. Our youngest kid will soon participate in a field trip to the local JA branch in San Diego for BizTown, an economic simulation immersion that helps kids start to grasp basic business concepts. They also have what they call Finance Park, a program for high schoolers to understand the basic components of personal finance. When kids arrive, they’re given a character to play for the day, with demographic information and economic realities. Throughout the field trip, they must pay rent, deal with unexpected costs like a sick kid who needs to visit the doctor and pay for insurance. It’s a practical, powerful wake-up call to the expensive realities of breathing in our world today.
Jim Collins, the researcher and author behind the famous Good to Great book, put forth what he calls the Hedgehog Concept for organizations to rally around. It’s the convergence of what a company can be the best in the world at, most deeply passionate and committed to, as well as the realities of their economic engine. It’s an organizational approach to the Japanese concept of Ikigai (shown below).
Image from BODETREE, ADAPTED FROM FRANCESC MIRALLES
Ikagai is an incredibly useful framework for considering the most important aspects of future life and career planning. Too often, though, an emerging adult and their advisors over-index on one of the areas and neglect the rest.
I recently started sharing more openly with my son about how much our family life costs. As we drive in the car together, I’ve been asking him trivia questions, like: “How much money do you think our family spends on food each week?” and then laughing hysterically at his answers. He recently bought a used car and is quickly realizing how much it costs to maintain an asset.
Every kid deserves the opportunity to be guided to consider their future thoughtfully. They deserve better than most typically receive, especially from school. Consider this week by starting conversations with the kids in your life about the real costs of living, and see what happens as their insight and wisdom grows.
For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).