We are blessed to live with two wonderful teenagers, both of whom are in high school. With all the negative press in the wake of the shootings in Littleton, CO, they and their friends serve to remind us of how many great teenagers there really are in the world. As our daughter prepares to graduate from high school, we find ourselves grieving the imminent breakup of a family we’ve known and loved for almost 18 years.
High-school graduations come ready-made with the question, “What are you going to do next?” There is no option. Once you graduate from high school, you can’t keep going to high school. It’s that cut and dry. They boot you out to face the world, ready or not.
Most graduates are more than ready. They have been working for months, if not years, to plan their future education, employment, travel, and service. They’ve been dreaming about what they might do, talking with guidance counselors, reading about potential schools and careers, getting a sense of themselves and who they want to be.
It’s unfortunate that so many of us lose this energy after the early years of young adulthood. We settle into a groove with family and friends, degrees and responsibilities, never to return to the excitement of making plans and striving to achieve them. Maturity becomes an excuse for living without a plan.
But it doesn’t need to be that way. At midlife, Megan went back to school to get her Ph.D. and pursue a new career. At midlife, Bob became a marathon runner and a professional coach. These midlife plans represented totally new directions, and they’ve generated for us the same enthusiasm that our teenage daughter finds in dreaming about college. It’s not your age, but your plan, which fills life with meaning, purpose, and joy.
What’s your plan? Have you laid out any courses lately that touch your heart and energize your mind? Philip C. McGraw, in his book Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters,suggests that without a plan we lack an important edge. “Ask yourself right now,” he urges, “do you really have a strategy in your life, or are you just reactively going from day to day, taking what comes? If you are, you simply aren’t competitive. There are •a lot of dogs after the bones’ out there, and just stumbling along is no way to succeed. The winners in this life know the rules of the game and have a plan, so that their efficiency is comparatively exponential to that of people who don’t.” (Hyperion • New York, 1999).
It’s important to have short-range as well as long-range plans. Microsoft is fond of asking the question, “Where do you want to go today?” But how can you answer that question unless you know where you want to go next week, next month, next year, and next decade?
Where you want to go with your life? That is the question. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you living how you want to be living? Are you becoming who you want to become? If not, then perhaps it’s time to sharpen your pencil or turn on your computer and develop a plan. Coaches can assist people with that work, but not until they’re ready to make a strong commitment. It’s hard work to set a course and stay on track. It’s far easier, albeit far less satisfying and successful, to simply wander around from one morning to the next. But that’s not how energy flows. Energy flows from the proactive creation of a life we value and esteem. This is not beyond the reach of anyone, regardless of age, and coaches stand ready to assist with those who are so inclined.
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
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