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Future Mistakes #4: No Aspirations

 

Even as a young boy, I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a dad. And a grandpa. If you put a microphone in my face and asked me what I wanted to be when I got older, I would’ve said, “Little League Coach.” 

It must’ve been hardwired into me; it’s a strange thing to hear from a seven-year-old. 

We spend a lot of time focusing on college admissions and career planning with kids but not much regarding life planning. As a result, they’re unprepared for the type of character and clarity they’ll need to put together the most important aspects of their life, the parts that bring deep meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction. 

It’s a mistake to plan for your career but not your life. 

Over the years, we've developed a series of prompts that help students think creatively and maturely about their future through the lens of aspiration rather than ambition. Their ambitions are goals and milestones; their aspirations are about their character and identity. 

Here’s what they look like:

  • What kind of family do you want to have? “I want my family to be…”
  • What kind of community do you want to have? “I want to have friends who…”
  • What kind of neighborhood would you like to have someday? “I want to be a neighbor who…”

  • What kind of leader do you want to be someday? “I want to be a leader who is known for…”

There are more prompts and exercises. You don’t just ask these questions once and assume they’ll come to pass. These are the categories of life to be reflecting on and talking about constantly.  

We’re all inundated with visuals to pursue trophies and external displays of success. Whether it’s possessions like cars and homes, travel destinations, airbrushed looks, or job titles, a life pursuing trophies has been proven to become a life of unfulfillment. But those are the goal lines that have been set unless we elevate competing ones. 

It’s a simple idea, and these are easy conversations to start.


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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).

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