In the interest of addressing issues concerning teens and career direction, it is important to put this into the context of Career ADD. It is no surprise that more teens, college age and young adults are suffering from the impact of ADD/ADHD in all areas of life. With the pressures of high school and preparing for college, teens who are naturally distracted have an even greater challenge when it comes to making one of life’s most important decisions.
Yet, with even a little structured guidance, teens with Career ADD have a much greater chance of getting on the right track from the beginning. Without this guidance, they can drift into college and life switching majors, job hopping, getting fired and risk losing self-confidence if they lack interest. For those of you with teens with ADD/ADHD you are likely well aware that your child will do very well at anything they truly enjoys.
On the other hand, they may “forget” to do assignments, lose papers or worse, fail in a subject they don’t like. I have experienced this, and was fortunate that my son knew his career direction in high school. There were and are still challenges knowing that the ADD is a factor and could potentially keep him from passing classes he does not enjoy.
Key No. 1 – FIND A PROFESSIONAL TO HELP YOUR TEEN DETERMINE A CAREER DIRECTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The vast majority of students, with or without ADD/ADHD do not know what direction to take. Yet they enter college with the idea that they will figure it all out as a freshman or sophomore. The truth is that they are so caught up just trying to keep up with classes and complete “core” courses, they don’t have time to do the crucial exploration necessary (extremely necessary) to making a decision that could lead them toward career happiness, the first job, and less debt than they would have switching college majors over and over. Add to that ADD/ADHD. Making a small investment could save thousands and future tears.
The colleges, in general, do not prepare students today to make that critical decision. Career Centers are not equipped to provide the guidance needed to explore who they are as individuals and what makes their hearts sing, and ultimately want to focus on a direction in their junior and senior years of high school or college.
KEY NO. 2 – YOUR TEEN MUST LOVE THE DIRECTION THEY CHOOSE – MONITOR THEIR ENTHUSIASM.
So what is the solution? As I have written in several previous articles, it is absolutely critical that those of us with ADD/ADHD do work that is enjoyable and even fun. This, of course, is just as true for us as it is for our kids. Watch how your child responds to their new direction – are they beginning to make connections, do more research and, most importantly, are they getting excited? When my son purchased a Stephen Hawking’s book on his own, with his own money, I knew we were on to something.
KEY NO. 3– NO PROFESSIONAL? START WITH A WORKBOOK AND TAKE IT IN SPURTS BY ENCOURAGING YOUR TEEN TO LOOK WITHIN. THIS WILL ALSO INSPIRE PERSONAL GROWTH.
In my work with teens and adults with Career ADD, I use the What Color Is Your Parachute Handbook (2010 Edition) by Career Master, Richard N. Bolles, with each and every one of my clients, no matter what age. I have found that this tool provides “creative structure” for those of us with Career ADD. There is also a “Parachute” style book for teens that is acceptable too. However, I have found that the combination of the original workbook and personal guidance provides teens with structure and support to make a career decision with confidence. As with adults, teens need to do the inner work and be supported in exploring all possibilities, and to get in touch with what they value and what gives them energy, breeds enthusiasm, which, in turn, provides focus.
This may not sit well with some parents, particularly if you are set on your child going to college, but not all teens are “wired” to go to college. Some may lean more toward a career that does not require a degree. Some teens may find that their true nature will lead them toward hands-on careers such as mechanics or electronics, fashion design, art or other areas that can be taught through classes, certifications, workshops, internships or a combination. No matter, by using the handbook as a tool, you can help them get the conversation started. Ultimately, we want our teens to accept responsibility for themselves and love what they do in life. Doing the inner work associated with developing a positive career direction is a great first step.