Looking Forward to Life

by Linda Jenkinson |

Too often, when they become adolescents, our children feel they must decide on what they want to be when they grow up. Adolescence is just too young for somebody to decide what they will do for a lifetime. Setting goals and self-imposing rules at such a young age can hinder a young person's growth more than help it.

If you are old enough to look back, you see the truth in the old platitude "hindsight is 20/20." While it's normal to look back and wonder "what might have been," the biggest regrets that we ever experience are looking back at the experiences we rejected. Oddly enough, we seldom really regret taking a chance on something that didn't work out. So what keeps us from saying yes to opportunity?

When I was twelve, I wanted to be a concert pianist. When I was 18, I wanted to be a rock star. Instead I started out as a medical technician and over the years have worked in many jobs including: waitress, retail employee, boutique owner, secretary, real estate agent, housekeeping manager, dispatcher, copywriter and editor.

Looking back, I have very few career regrets, even those that didn't work out: the business that failed or the relationship that stumbled at the gate. However, in several instances, my self-imposed goals and rules, kept me from experiencing some of the opportunities life offered. For instance, I passed up two chances to go to Hawaii and my chance to sing and tour with a locally popular band. (So much for the the rock star dream). If "strike while the iron is hot" is good advice, what kept me from putting those irons in the fire?

Too often we refuse to reach for the brass ring in fear that if we do, we will fall off the horse. The self-imposed terms and conditions, which we attach to our lives, can keep us from getting on the horse at all. We should help our children find their brass rings and encourage our children to grab them when they come into view. Help them see that happiness lies in looking forward to today and every day of their lives, not backwards whether recounting their victories or licking their wounds.

As parents, we should teach our children that the surest route to a satisfying life is to concentrate their efforts on those activities that they enjoy. Instead of trying to plan for the long term (that most children can't comprehend anyway), we should teach our children to live for the day. Help them to understand that where they find the most pleasure is the place where they will also find their strongest talents as well as the greatest value they can return to life.

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