When I was a teen, I had an uncle who, at every family gathering, asked me what I wanted to do with my life. No surprise, I never liked him, because I had NO idea what I wanted to do! Not one.
Even when I got to college, I declared my major on the last possible day allowed to still graduate. I was a good student and I had a serious work ethic, but my North Star was not very bright. I guess you could say I was a little directionless.
This is not unusual. Most young adults have big dreams but they are not taught how to connect to them or how to connect to themselves. Like most teens, I repeatedly asked myself questions like:
- Am I good enough?
- Am I smart enough?
- Am I athletic enough?
- Am I thin enough?
- Am I funny enough?
- Am I studying enough?
- Am I going to make it in this big, bad world?”
I had no idea the answer to any of these questions since I hadn’t been taught how to think about who I wanted to be.
Now, as a Staff Coach at HG, I teach The Handel Method to high schoolers and it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite activities is to have students ditch the question “Am I?” for good!
It’s no mean feat, and I spend weeks with them building up to it.
First, I have students connect to their hearts and write a dream for ten key areas of their life (e.g. Friends, Career, Time, Family). I have them investigate their inner dialogue – the voices of fear (the chicken), impulsivity (the brat) and powerlessness (the weather reporter) – and I have them look at their limiting beliefs, excuses and personality traits. They learn how to show up as a leader (a One) instead of a reactor (a Two), and also how to communicate with grace and wisdom.
By the end of this curriculum, they are ready to replace “Am I?” with the much more confident and bold “I AM _______ (fill in the blank with something they want to stand for).”
Powerful, huh? Hell yeah it is! Just wait until you read below to see the bold things they filled in that blank.
If they are no longer going to be the chicken avoiding playing big in their life, or no longer the procrastinator postponing success, or the mean girl, or the shut-down teenager, who do they want to be in the world?
I prompt them with these questions to get them free-writing:
- Who are you?
- What are you putting an end to?
- What do you refuse to accept?
- What do you take responsibility for?
- What is your life about?
- What are you here to do?
- What do you stand for?
- What are you taking on next?
- What are you promising?
Here’s what some of the teens in my classes have said:
- “I take responsibility for the people I let into my life and I will work on building positive relationships with people.”
- “I am committed to my relationship with myself. I am putting an end to holding my emotions in and then bursting because it hurts me when I do that.”
- “I am putting an end to my self-isolating trait and patterns. I will not allow my thoughts to spiral because they are just thoughts and I am in control. I promise to get out with people every week to protect myself from my trait.”
- “I am taking on making money and living more of my life. I am committed to ending plastic pollution in my family and I will travel the world throughout my life.”
- “My life is full of opportunity. I refuse to accept that I am not good enough and that my goals are out of reach because they are not.”
- “I am putting an end to negative thoughts and feeling out of place without justification. I am owning where I am and my individual path of life.”
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Better than my list. Am I right?
Are you ready to say “ I AM… going to change the trajectories of teenagers’ lives.” Or whatever it is YOU want to stand for?
If you want your teen, or your high school class, to end the school year with statements like these, email us.
We can teach in your classroom next semester or teach you to bring The Handel Method to your school. We start our most comprehensive Educator Training program in January.