A lot of people see the teen years as a time to have fun. They devote the majority of their time to hanging out with friends, listening to music, watching television, and playing video games. They give as little time as possible to school
and to preparing for the future. Then, when they are adults, they are not ready for the responsibilities of their new lives.
Although just having fun might seem like a great plan for the short run, in the long run it makes life much more complicated. Teens who live without purpose or an eye on the future won’t be ready for college or a career, and won’t have the skills to be successful and independent adults. If you want to have a great life, and not just a great teen life, it’s time to make a plan and then set goals to achieve them.
The first step is to figure out what kind of life you want to have. You won’t be a teenager forever, so think about adult life. Try to think beyond, “I want to be a millionaire and have a fancy car and a husband/wife who is a rock star.” While it happens to a few people, it doesn’t happen to many of us, and we’ll always need a back-up plan. So get out a paper and pen, or a computer and keyboard, and start planning.
First, picture yourself—realistically—at age 25. What is your career? (If you can’t sing, don’t put down rock star.) If you do choose a career that requires a lot of luck and talent, write down a more realistic second choice. There is nothing wrong with thinking big, but have another plan to tide you over until the big dream happens. Write it down.
Next, write down where you will live. What state or country do you want to be in? What type of home would you like to have. (Again, choose two if one is a mansion.)
Who do you want to be sharing that home with? You don’t have to name your future spouse. Chances are you haven’t met him or her yet. Instead, describe the type of person you’d like to be married to and the number of children you’d like to have. Example: “I’d like to have a husband who is intellectual, loves to travel, and is good with children, since I plan to have seven children. He should be kind, patient, and funny.”
What would you like to be doing in your spare time? Travel? Playing guitar in a band? Writing novels? Write it down.
Here’s a trickier part. If someone wrote an article about you at that age, what would you like them to say about the kind of person you are? Write it down.
Now that you have a general idea of who you want to be when you’re twenty-five, you need a plan to make it happen. If your plan says you’re going to have three published novels, a spouse, three children and a farm, you need to get started right now getting ready to make those things happen. In the next article, we’ll talk about how to set long-term goals.