Research shows that having a career or strategic plan early in life is important to determining success in terms of completing school, going on to further study and having a successful career.


With this week’s release of iAM Digital for Young People, I’ve been reflecting on how all of our teen experiences, confidence and dreams affected our lives, outlooks and careers as adults.  Seeing how Nicole has coped with being locked down and not being able to take her GCSE’s inspired me to help and make being yourself easier for these precious teens. shares that young people who reported that their well-being was being affected by the Coronavirus pandemic were much more likely than those aged 30 and over to report being bored (76%) and lonely (51%).  They are also much more likely to say the lockdown was making their mental health worse (42%).

The good news is that the study shows that young people are generally more optimistic for the future.  But the Princes Trust report for 2020 shows that young people’s worries about the future are marred by the online world of social media, revealing that overall wellbeing scores in young people have flat lined and are at the lowest level since their study was launched a decade ago.

When I look back on my own teens I definitely see patterns that have formed my adult life and especially my approach to work.  Looking back, I see that I was much more able to be myself in certain scenarios vs. others (and not just in the pub!).  And in those moments, I was very me.  I also struggled with my natural sensitivity. As an adult running a business-like Courageous Success it’s a massive asset.  I can sense what’s happening for people.  But as a teenager it was awful!  Did I know who I was?  Not really.  But there were definitely situations that brought out the best in me. 

School was constricting, I wasn’t myself.  Family relationships were difficult, I wasn’t myself.  Friendships could be a challenge, I wasn’t myself.  I loved work, here I was myself.  I loved being with some of those close to me, I was myself.  I loved travelling; I was myself.  So, the pattern that I see overall is that when I was comfortable, I was me, when I wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t me.

Challenging scenarios where I then wasn’t myself seemed to stick and I recall feeling over sensitive, hiding a bit and worrying what others thought of me.  My wellbeing and confidence went down.   And yet knowing what I know now, it’s in the most challenging moments that when we are ourselves can be the most rewarding, both for resilience, self-confidence and experience.

So, what can be learnt from your teens and how can your reflections help you to be more of your best self at work today?

  1. When you look back when were you at your most confident? What were you like in those moments?
  2. Did you create a plan, feel on purpose, or go with the flow? How do these patterns play out now in your career and how much are they the real you?
  3. Perhaps habits and patterns have taken over, the organisational professional you. What was the non work you like then?  Do you still recognise those feelings and approaches?
  4. If you’d known who you were then what would have changed?
  5. Did you try to rein in aspects of your personality? What made you do this?  Do you still do it?

Our experiences of being a young person definitely affect our success at work as adults.  But most of us never even think to look back and collect this rich data.

If you have young people in your world who you’d like to benefit from knowing who they are check out iAM Digital for Young People.  It’s free, with the option of paying a small amount to support the project.