Getting young people to set attainable career goals is sometimes harder than pulling teeth. If I had a nickel for every young man who told me he wanted to play in the NBA, I could buy my own team. When counseling young people, prying realistic career goals from them or introducing a lesson on careers, there are some tricks you can try.
In a perfect world…
Start with that statement. “In a perfect world” allows them to strip off any burdens, real or imagined, holding them back. In a perfect world, what will you be doing in 10 (15 or 20) years. This should get the imagination going. You can have them close their eyes and imagine themselves in this profession. It may take more prompting and cajoling, but many students will play along.
What’s your plan B?
Once they begin vision-casting after the “in a perfect world” setup, many will say, “I want to play in the NBA.” (Just wait, it’s going to happen.) Ask them for their plan B. Explain to them that even NBA players have a plan B because they can’t play basketball forever due to age and injury. You can even ask for a plan C, that way they will have three career goals.
If you could predict the future…
Have them partner with a friend who knows them fairly well. Have the friend write, “If I could predict the future, I predict you will be…” Have the friend support their answer with personality attributes they have seen in their friend that match the career. You can also have the friend add a plan B and C.
Never step on the dreams of a student, no matter how outrageous they may sound. (tweet this)
The future is where their dreams live. I hear stories all of the time about that one teacher or coach who made all the difference in a young person’s life. I’m living proof.
Be that person who keeps dreams alive.