When young people ponder their future lives as adults, they’re usually thinking of a job, a title, or a profession. But I would suggest that they consider these questions instead: What fascinates me? What problems do I want to solve? Where do I want to make a difference?
As they ask these questions, it may be helpful to consider the following guidelines:
Embrace Your Curiosity
Rather than falling into well-trodden paths where you think you should go, spend your high-school years discovering what fascinates you.
Try to ascertain what moves you, what prompts you to try to know more and to do more. What endeavor or enterprise makes you want to shout, “I want to be part of THAT!”?
Your true passion doesn’t always strike you like a bolt of lightning. Discovering it sometimes demands initiative, risk-taking and entering unfamiliar environments. As you explore, don’t look simply for the easy open doors; knock on the closed doors and open them.
Each year, make an effort to try something new, whether it’s enrolling in an intriguing course, joining a new club or auditioning for the school play.
Learn To Solve Problems
Our world is changing so rapidly that the career you eventually pursue might not even exist yet. But one skill you’ll need in any career is the ability to solve problems.
Your school offers you the chance to practice tackling problems now –in the science lab, art studio, classroom or club meeting.
Then, when you enter the work world, you’ll be an experienced problem-solver, capable of adapting to a multitude of scenarios. This transferable skill will prepare you for anything, making you an indispensable leader in any enterprise.
Problem-solving is hard. Solutions will not always come quickly and sometimes they won’t come at all. When you encounter a problem, big or small, dive into it with grit, determination, and persistence.
As you strive to solve problems, be self-aware and notice your own reactions and responses to the process. Ask yourself, What did I do well? Where could I have done better? How did I respond to challenges, setbacks, suggestions from others? What did I learn about myself?
And when the problem is seemingly “solved,” don’t stop there. Take full ownership of your work. Revise and polish your solution until it’s accurate, thorough and complete –so that you can present it to your teacher and classmates with pride.
Proofread your papers and lab reports, check your math test for careless errors, and review your French homework for proper accent marks.
Care Beyond Self
South African leader Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” His words might prompt you to consider how your passion and problem-solving can help others.
If you’re interested in medicine, what diseases do you want to cure? If you enjoy writing, what human issues do you want to address? If you’re intrigued by business, what services or products do you want to provide to enhance the lives of others?
By considering these questions, your education will not only enrich your own life but the lives of others as well.