Making choices, benefits of long-term goals

Teenagers often face challenges making choices regarding long-term goals such as education, health, career, pregnancy and adjusting to family dynamics. As they are faced with the daily tasks of making choices, they also have the task of learning about the long term benefits of their decisions.

It is important to note that long-term goals help us to be proactive in our growth, rather than just aiming for quick wins and quick results.

Even though we cannot completely predict the future, the choices we make now have a significant influence on our future. The story below is an example of how our choices can shape our future:

Mokgalo* joined a group of delinquent teenagers at the age of 14 years, because he could not resist the peer pressure to join what was viewed as a “cool group”, while doing form 1 at school. They formed a habit of arriving at school very early in the morning each school day, not because they wanted to finish off their homework, but because they wanted to create what they called “fun time” before school started. “Fun time” included drinking, smoking, doing drugs and other deviant activities. With time Mokgalo* developed addiction and felt the pressure to leave school and find a job so that he could fund his addictive behaviour. When he realised that he could not afford to fund his addictive behaviour, Mokgalo* resorted to theft in an attempt to raise more funds for his dysfunctional lifestyle. Eventually, he was imprisoned and fortunately rehabilitated. Now at the age of 55 years, Mokgalo* is rebuilding his life in a positive way.

Below is a basic guide to what teenagers need to think about when making choices:


Choice of friends

Choosing friends who accept you for who you are and make you feel good about yourself is one of the most liberating decisions you can ever make. Having friends who are fun to be around also adds value in your health. You also need deposit the energy you would like to withdraw. Imagine how your significant others would feel, if you were to come go to work or come home exhausted and withdrawn each work day.


Choosing a career that fits you

Success follows naturally when your career fits you well. Many teenagers fall into the trap of choosing big money careers they do not really connect with, only to have miserable career lives in their adulthood. If you are not happy to get out of bed in the morning to go to work, you will never be fulfilled, no matter how much material benefits you gain. The positive energy you derive from enjoying what you do, usually pays off.


Preserving your personal glow

Having a career that fits you well, adds a spark in your eyes. The world of work is ready to accommodate the aspirations of those who love what they are doing. Being satisfied and fulfilled leaves you with a self-expression that draws people closer to you, whether or not you were born beautiful.


Autonomy or self-expression

We are all born with the desire to express our inner abilities. When we express them, we are most likely to make a contribution. If we do not express them, we sense that there is a gap to be filled. All creatures were created to express themselves naturally. Human beings are the only creatures who have the ability to talk themselves into wrong careers (Lore, 2008).


Self-esteem is how you grade yourself innately. It depends largely on what is going on in your life at a particular time. If you connect well with what you are doing, your productivity is most likely to strengthen, hence your self-esteem will rise. Self-esteem falls when you lose regularly or when you are constantly struggling.


Health and vitality

Research shows that choosing wrong careers usually causes significant work-related stresses. This in turn leads to serious stress related illnesses such as depression and high blood pressure.  *Not his real name

Editor's Comment
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