The world is a collection of unlimited wealth and resources. Often, we limit our potential by moving in our own small circles because of our fears. If we change the way we view the world, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
-- Stedman Graham
What does success mean to you? To some it means a lot of money or prestige, a big house, a fancy car, an executive position. To others it means doing what they want to do: winning an award, earning a scholarship, mastering new skills. Others might define success in terms of how strong their relationships are with family and friends.
Success can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and that's all right. To me, people who are successful when they are fulfilling their own potential, expanding their horizons, not afraid to take risks, and continually growing. Success comes from knowing who you are and what you want to achieve, what your abilities are and how you can use them to live a fulfilling life -- one in which your potential is fully tapped.
"As a teenager, it is easy for me to dream about a successful future. However, I need to concentrate on realistic goals and achieve them step by step. Success doesn't happen overnight, and it is important to realize that at my age. However, I believe that if I work on accomplishing my goals, my dreams, or parts of them, will come true."
-- Lana, age eighteen
Too many kids nowadays don't even know what their potential is, much less how to tap into it. And success requires both of those things to happen. It doesn't just happen on its own.
So how do you become successful? How do you discover your potential and learn how to tap into it?
By engaging in a process that helps you pursue your dreams and goals. By taking action. By understanding that what happens to you is not nearly as important as how you choose to react or respond to it. By creating a vision and a plan to make that vision happen. By taking risks -- and knowing which risks to take. By making wise decisions.
There are a number of factors involved in becoming successful, and they are all part of the Success Process that I detailed in my book Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps to Success. That book, along with this workbook, will help you begin the Success Process. It will help you envision what success means to you in terms of your relationships with others, your education and career goals, and your role within your community.
Like many people, I wasted a great deal of my life worrying about what others thought of me. I still struggle with that, even though I now realize that it doesn't matter what others think of me; what matters most is how I feel about myself and that I believe in the possibilities for my life.
You can't do much about what others say or think about you. You can only focus on those things that are within your control. The things that matter most to you and that you have the power to influence are contained in what I call your Success Circles. These circles are simply a way of helping you focus on the most important areas of your life when you undertake the Success Process. That focus helps you to grow and enrich your life.
Anyone can come up with a dozen or more such circles, but let's consider these basic three: Personal Development, Career, and Relationships.
- Personal Development refers to how you want to develop as a person. Your development will affect not only you, but also the community around you, as you see opportunities to give back to your community.
- By Career I mean the things you can do now to help yourself to the type of career you envision for yourself.
- Finally, Relationships are critical at every stage of our lives; no person is successful in isolation.
So what goes into these Success Circles? Well, your circles might begin to shape up like this:
- Work through my Success Process materials to better know myself, my needs, and my desires
- Define what success and achievement mean for me
- Start jogging or working out regularly
- Volunteer at summer camp
- Take part in a walkathon
- Be more consistent with homework
- Hook up with a study partner
- Get a summer job in the type of business that interests me
(such as working as an aide in a hospital if you're interested in a medical field)
- Take more advanced courses in my area of career interest
- Take a variety of courses to expand my career opportunities
- Talk with and learn from people who are working in my area of career interest
- Get along better with my parents
- Be more open in talking about things that are really bothering me
- Be supportive and encouraging to my close friends
- Get to know someone in my field of interest who can begin to "show me the ropes" (for instance, if you want to be a coach, choose a coach you want to model yourself)
- Help my grandparents with house and yard work
The relationship circle is critical, for without consistent and strong relationships, it is difficult to build a meaningful life. Listen to what this student has to say about relationships and motivation:
It may be possible for a short period of time, but in the long run I doubt anyone can find constant motivation from within. The quality of support for each person, I think, varies. However, it is always important to get a bit of encouragement, praise, or validation along the way. Otherwise you may start to question whether or not your work is going anywhere.
-- Kelly, age eighteen
Create Your Success Circles
Now take some time to fill in your own Success Circles. Within each one, try to list at least five things you can do to better your life.
- Work through my Success Process materials
- Define success and achievement
- Work out regularly
- Volunteer at a summer camp
- Take part in a walkathon
- Be consistent with homework
- Get a summer job
- Find a study partner
- Take advanced course in my chosen career
- Talk with people already in my career
- Get along better with parents
- Confide in someone I trust
- Support and encourage friends
- Find a career mentor
- Help my grandparents
If things aren't going well for you in one of these areas -- personal development, career, relationships -- chances are it has a negative impact on the other areas. That's why it is so important to have a balanced life, to pay attention in equal measure to your schoolwork or your job if you have one, your personal development and the community around you, and your relationships with family, friends, and adults who are in positions to help you.
Also, note that often your circles will overlap. For example:
- Through an advanced class you're taking in your field of interest, a teacher might introduce you to someone in that field who could act as a mentor or guide.
- You might develop a key relationship while volunteering at a summer camp.
- Through an important relationship your eyes might be opened to an exciting career opportunity.
This overlapping strengthens your life in these key areas and gives you a more solid base from which to pursue a successful life.
THE EARLY STAGES OF LIFE
5-13 ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
13-18 HIGH SCHOOL
18-22 COLLEGE OR VOCATIONAL TRAINING
22-25 FIRST JOB
25-30 DEVELOP REAL-WORLD KNOWLEDGE OR WORKFORCE
Steps to a Better Life
So what is this Success Process that I mentioned? The process involves nine steps. Following are brief descriptions of those steps.
- Step 1: Check Your ID. Self-awareness is where success begins. Before you can decide what you want for your life, you must first understand who you are, and why you think and act the way you do. Some describe this as searching for self-awareness. I call it "checking your ID." Before you take off on any serious journey these days, you must first make sure that you have valid identification with you. The same holds true for your journey through the Success Process.
- Step 2: Create Your Vision. To seek a better life, you have to decide what you want for your life. What are your dreams and aspirations? What characteristics, talents, and skills do you bring to the table? I'll help you explore these areas and then show you how to set ambitious but realistic goals.
- Step 3: Develop Your Travel Plan. Once you have established your goals, you need a plan to pursue your vision. In this step, I will help you develop that plan. I will also show you how to chart the best path by using your values as your markers.
- Step 4: Master the Rules of the Road. Every day you will encounter distractions that might stop you or slow you down in your journey. In step four, I will teach you how to "keep on keeping on." I will provide keys to self-motivation so that you will have the strength not to be easily distracted or defeated.
- Step 5: Step into the Outer Limits. There are always risks when you pursue a dream. To grow, you have to leave your comfort zone and enter unknown territory. Without taking those risks and facing your fears, you'll never get to where you want to be. You may fail sometimes, but you may never succeed if you are not willing to risk failure. And even if you do fail, you can learn from the experience and try again. To do that, you will need courage, and you will also need to have faith in your ability to achieve your goals.
- Step 6: Pilot the Seasons of Change. Many people never pursue their dreams for a better life because they are afraid of change, afraid they will lose something that has been important to them. But think about this: it is impossible to move ahead while staying where you are. You have to be willing to accept that some changes will be necessary. Many people keep doing the same thing over and over again in their lives, hoping that something better will come along. But if you keep doing what you have always done, you will get the same results. If you are not getting what you want out of life, you have to change your approach to it. Ride out the tough times and be patient for the changes you want to become real. Give yourself time to accept changes and adjust to them.
- Step 7: Build Your Dream Team. Supportive relationships that help you work toward your goals are critical to your success. To build those relationship, you need to learn to trust others. And to earn their trust, you in turn must be trustworthy.
- Step 8: Win by a Decision. Making decisions wisely is one of your greatest challenges. This involves assessing your personal strength, needs, and resources; checking them against your beliefs and values; and making decisions based on that assessment. You need a strong heart and a wise mind to do that.
- Step 9: Commit to Your Vision. In this final step, I will review all of the previous material with you and then teach you how to make a true commitment to achieving your vision for a successful life. You can set all the goals and make all the plans in the world, but unless you truly commit yourself to going after them, you'll never achieve them. You have to pursue your vision with energy and make that pursuit a priority in your life.
That's the Success Process in a nutshell. But to make it happen, you have to roll up your sleeves and get ready to do some work. Are you willing to do the work? It will be worth it, believe me. You'll get out of it what you put into it. If you want to get the most out of it, work carefully through the material and activities. Think seriously about how each step applies or should apply to how you live your life. In the end, what you take away from the nine-step Success Process is what matters most. Use it as a springboard to a promising future.
Now let's take the first step: let's check your ID.
Copyright © 2001 by Graham Williams Group
Teens Can Make It Happen Workbook
From Stedman Graham, the bestselling author of Teens Can Make It Happen, comes an activity-filled workbook designed to help teens realize their full potential. The Teens Can Make It Happen Workbook is packed with entertaining exercises that will show you how to work your way through Graham's nine steps to success.
The workbook teaches the nine steps discussed in Teens Can Make It Happen, along with a variety of fun, thought-provoking, and, ultimately, life-changing activities for those ready and willing to make it happen. From group activities to self-tests to journaling, the workbook is filled with relevant and practical exercises for any teen looking to make that journey to adulthood an easy one. You will learn ways to create a whole new vision of how to use your talents and desires to become your best. In order to achieve this vision, Graham stresses, you must believe in the possibility of your success in order to have a strong sense of self-understanding and awareness.
Written in an entertaining and interactive style, Graham bridges the gap between education and the real world and, in addition, shows you how to boost self-esteem, avoid peer pressure, and handle the stresses of daily life that are part of being a young adult.
As founder of Athletes Against Drugs, an organization created to combat drug abuse and promote youth leadership, Graham knows how to talk to teenagers. Whether used as a companion to Teens Can Make It Happen or on its own, the Teens Can Make It Happen Workbook shows you how to take control of your life, and, consequently, your destiny.