Who do you want to be in this (fill-in-the-blank) situation? What do you like about who you are being? How are your actions honoring (or dishonoring?) the things that matter most to you? Are you choosing to be who you want to be, in your current circumstances?

There are many things we can’t control in life, but there is one significant thing we always have power over.  We get to choose each moment of each day how we show up.  In the midst of challenges, celebrations, and those routine days, we have complete control and responsibility over how we respond, actions we take, and thoughts we think, regardless of how anyone else chooses to show up. (Not saying it’s easy!)

This is such a powerful and empowering concept for students to grasp. It’s a key to greater confidence, independence and leadership.

When a teenager or college student can put into words what their values are, (key things uniquely and individually important to them) and then connect their decisions with those values, look out, things are going to get exciting! I absolutely love seeing the light go on as students realize they have choices and a voice. They get to choose who they want to be and they are responsible for who they are. There is so much freedom in this realization.

Suddenly the teen who has been too shy to make friends realizes she values friendship and is empowered to take the risk of initiating with others. The student who spends HOURS playing video games realizes he isn’t going to pass his classes if he continues on, and a college degree is highly important to him. A different choice is necessary to get where he wants to go.

For the students who struggle with confidence, planning for the future, or decision making, there is a newfound hope. Decisions don’t have to be random or in the moment. Whether it’s a conflict in a relationship, peer pressure, disappointing results, a challenging learning curve or some other setback, students realize they always have the power to choose how they will show up. That choice can be one that honors their values and reflects back who they are and who they want to be. Knowing how to connect decisions with values is life changing!

While we all struggle in different areas or moments to perfectly respond, act, or think in ways that reflect who we want to be, when we find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be, it isn’t difficult to get back on track with a new choice. Once a student has an awareness of their values, and what it feels like to live them out through their choices, there is an innate desire to live them out. All I can think to say is, “Woohoo!” I absolutely love that for them.

*Brenda is an ICF certified academic life coach, youth advocate coach trainer, adoptive mom, wife and a licensed therapeutic foster parent.*