Why Do So Many Teenagers Fail To Fulfil Their Potential?

Dealing with Teenage Problems


I’m writing this article because I get massively frustrated to see young people making the same errors as previous generations, and I want to share something simple that today’s teenagers can do to boost their chances of achieving their goals. Common teenage problems (such as lack of discipline, antisocial behaviour, missing school, underage drinking, drug abuse, and other issues) sometimes occur for the simple reason that too many young people haven’t taken time to consider what they really want their life to be about. They haven’t identified any of their own aims or targets to work towards – they haven’t uncovered their personal passions and interests – they haven’t got a vision for the future that inspires them.  And because they lack a positive focus each day, they get caught up in other activities that might feel good in the short-term but ultimately lead to a disappointing (and sometimes devastating) destination.

Focus on something positive – Regularly!


I often challenge young people to decide what they want to accomplish in their lives by asking them to write their goals down. Some find it difficult to free their mind and dare to dream, whilst others have no problem creating their wish list for the future. A common mistake many teens make after they’ve identified their goals is to stuff their wish list away in a file, folder, or cupboard never to be seen again. The list gets lost and forgotten until it’s accidentally uncovered, sometimes months or even years later. This ‘Forget About It Phenomenon’ isn’t unusual. For instance, did you know that more than 80% of the New Year’s resolutions are forgotten about and broken before the end of January by the very people that made them! The vast majority of people who said they would lose weight, quit smoking or advance their career (etc) have quit their quest within 30 days. That’s insane! Of course, young people observe this lack of commitment and inability to see things through, and inevitably repeat the pattern provided to them by the adults to create their own teenage problems. They’re merely replicating the example set for them by their elders.

Avoid teenage problems by monitoring your results regularly

One of the major reasons for this remarkable inability to stick to the task is that too many people don’t take the time to review whether they are On-Track or Off-Track in their quest to achieve their goals. Human beings are incredible and possess the ability to achieve virtually anything the mind can imagine. But to many people fail to fulfill their potential because they don’t take the time to reflect on what they’re doing, notice whether it’s working, and remain focused on their ultimate aims. I remember being in school and having my own teenage problems.  I once had a target to achieve a grade “A” in my Business Studies class. Yet when I completed a practice exam I only attained a grade of “D”. This, of course, made me realize is that I was way Off-Track with my performance and the goal I wanted to achieve. This awareness of my predicament enabled me to make a choice about how I was going to respond. It gave me the personal power to choose whether I wanted to quit my quest for academic success, or stick to the aim I’d always had – which would inevitably require a seismic shift in my approach to studying Business.

You cannot manage what you lack awareness of


I believe it’s important for young people learn about the importance of monitoring their own performance. One slip up doesn’t have to lead to resignation, quitting, and failure. If only more teenagers understood that the more they monitor their ability to do something, the more likely they are to master that thing over the longer term. If a student were to write a goal and stuff it away in a drawer – far from their daily consciousness – and uncover that written goal a year later, they would be likely to discover that they haven’t reached their target. In my experience, the most successful people are those who reflect on their lives and goals every week. The more awareness you have of yourself, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. It’s the things that we focus on and evaluate regularly that we’re most likely to experience. Failing my Business Studies practice exam raised my awareness that I needed to reevaluate what I was doing in my lessons and change how studying the subject.  It wasn’t the signal for me to quit. Rather, it was a sign that what I’d been doing wasn’t working. All I had to do was respond by adopting a new approach to studying Business. Six months later, through constantly monitoring my performance and making regular changes I achieved the grade “A” in my final exam that I’d always aimed for.

Find a healthy passion and focus on it


So, once teenagers have written their goals, it’s important they place their wish list somewhere they’ll see them every day. This will keep their aims in the forefront of their mind and encourage them to monitor their progress regularly. Ideally, students will then reflect upon their progress (or lack of it) every week, and make changes where necessary to keep themselves On-Track to success. I like to challenge young people to choose a goal you would like to experience this year – Taking care to give that goal a measurement. For example, if the goal is to, “Make more money”, be specific and write down the exact amount you want, such as £50, £100, or £1,000, etc.

Flexibility is required for success


Then once they’ve chosen a unit of measure for their goal, I ask them to think about their answer to the following question… “Are you currently On-Track or Off-Track in your quest to achieve your goal?” If they’re On-Track I challenge them to keep doing the things that are currently working. If they’re Off-Track I challenge them be flexible and change their approach – Change the way they think about their goal, and change the way they behave toward achieving their goal. Furthermore, if a student wants to accelerate their ability to reach their target, it would be a sound idea to identify a Mentor or Role Model who has already achieved what they want. The likelihood is that there’s someone close by or online that’s already experienced the same goals. So go and ask them for guidance, seek their advice and ask them, “How did you do it?” Obviously it’s imperative that the student listens to what their mentor says and uses the information they receive – Take notes, maybe record the conversation, but certainly put your learning into practice. It goes without saying that if you or a teenager you know were to meet with a mentor (online or in person), please take every precaution possible to ensure your personal safety at all times. Teenagers can apply these principles to deal with teenage problems and achieve anything they want. Whether it’s good grades in school, sporting success, happy relationships, future careers… literally anything. Just remember that young people are more likely to succeed when they focus on their goals every day, reflect on their actions each week, and make changes to their performance whenever necessary. ______________________________________________ This article is taken from Kevin Mincher’s Coaching Call transcript (Session 2 – Reflection & Role Models)
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