With increasing autonomy comes increasing responsibility. Teenagers have always been under great pressure to have it all figured out by age seventeen when they're applying to college. Remember when you were seventeen - you probably thought you knew everything. We all did at that age! In retrospect, it's crystal clear that we didn't have the slightest clue.
Some kids know what they're born to do from a startlingly young age. Some young adults spend their early 20s searching for their passion. Being able to guide your adolescent during this stage of life can be tricky. Especially when desired career paths of today sound nearly foreign to parents, such as: influencer, professional gamer, or coder. Parents typically want what's best for their child, which normally includes a job that provides autonomy and stability.
Kids these days are demanding more. They want to do something they love. This can leave some parents confused about how to steer today's teens in the right direction; how can you be sure that your teen has found their true passion?
It Gives Them Purpose
Passion is driven by purpose.
As quoted by Greater Good Magazine, The Stanford Center on Adolescents defines purpose as, “A stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.”
One indication that your teens have found their passion is that you'll notice that they're setting goals that are meaningful to them. When you find purpose in a task, you're more likely to be diligent, resourceful, and resilient because the goal truly matters to you. You're more likely to overcome adversity for the sake of achieving the purpose.
How To Identify Purpose
Purpose comes from the intersection of three things:
- Doing what you love - These are the activities you find yourself getting lost in for hours.
- Utilizing natural skills/abilities - These are your child's innate talents and strengths.
- Is bigger than one's self - A cause bigger than one's self serves the community or meets a public need.
If your child has found a field that ticks these boxes, they've found a career path that gives them purpose.
They Have a Natural Desire to Do it
Every parent has had to harp on their child to do something that they don't want to do. Teenagers will find every opportunity to procrastinate something if they have no desire to do it. It can be like pulling teeth to get them to take out the garbage, study, or help with yard work.
When your child has found a career path that suits them, you'll know it because it's either all they want to do or all they want to talk about. You'll see a twinkle in their eyes when discussing it. You never have to ask them to practice because they naturally look forward to doing it.
They Enter A State Of Flow
Headspace defines a Flow State as:
"When you’re giving your fullest attention to an activity or task that you are incredibly passionate about, singularly focused on, and totally immersed in, you may find yourself creating the conditions necessary to experience a flow state of mind. The mind’s usual chatter begins to fade away, placing us in a non-distracted zone. The feelings that would consume you under normal circumstances (inhibition, hunger, fatigue, or aches and pains) melt away, and all that matters is your dedication to your craft."
When your child has found their career path, they might enter a flow state when researching it or practicing it. When they're engaged with it, you might describe them as being "in their element". They'll seemingly disappear into a whole other world, fully immersing themselves in what they're doing. If your child has found a field that they can dip into this flow state of mind, it's another sign that they've found the right career path for them.
They're Inspired By It
If your child has found their career calling, they'll be inspired by it. You'll notice their creative side come to life; they'll have a million ideas on how they'd like to contribute to the industry. They'll also gravitate towards role models in that field - their social media feeds will be full of that industry's top names. They will want to know how the leaders of the field think and what they're working on.
If You Notice These Signs In Your Children
If you notice that your child:
- Gains a sense of purpose from it,
- Is passionate about it,
- Has a natural desire to do it,
- Achieves a flow state when engaging with it, and/or
- Is inspired by it
Then, it's likely that your child has found a career path that they would gain true fulfillment from. At the very least, they've found a hobby that they'll gain a great deal of personal satisfaction from practicing.
Many people spend decades or even their entire lives searching for what they're truly passionate about. A lucky few know instinctively what they want to do from a very early age. If your teenager thinks that they've found what they're meant to do, it's important to support it to the best of your ability. Seeing your support will give them more confidence to pursue a career that fulfills and delights them.