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Making Independent Choices (Teens)

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Everyone wants independence. But then what?

What’s going on in your life right now? Do you have a part time job? Are you studying hard to be accepted into college? Are you saving some of your hard earned cash to buy something special?

Just like everyone, you want to be able to make your own decisions about how to spend your money and use your time. However, sometimes the choices you make don’t help you to get where you want to go. For example, if your friends convince you to skip a class you find boring, it is likely you will end up failing a course. Neither the teacher nor the people you hang out with will suffer for your choice, but you may not be able to qualify for the courses you want in college. That’s not so cool. In the worst case, you may not graduate at all, and your career dreams are ruined.

Part of the process of growing up is learning to make wise decisions. But it is also a time in life when you are tempted to try things that are risky or follow your friends into things that you wouldn’t normally do. Here are some tips for helping you make good decisions, even when it’s tough.

1. Define your values

That means deciding what’s okay for you and what’s not. What do you want for your future? A career? A college education? Marriage and a family? A healthy body? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you need to decide if your actions are putting you in the right direction to accomplish your dreams. If you’re skipping classes, it will be tough to get into college, and if you do, you won’t be prepared. If you’re smoking and drinking at parties, you are putting your health at risk. If you are “going too far” on your dates, you will not attract the kind of person you really want to be with. Give yourself permission to say, ‘this is what I want in life.” Sometimes that means you will tell your friends, “No thanks, I’m not into that.”

2. Just say no

When you’re tempted to do something that you know is not good for you, count to ten and then beat it! Sometimes getting out of the situation is the best thing to do.

3. Set goals

Write them down. Make them come true! If you have a plan, usually you will be able to overcome the obstacles that come along and accomplish your goals. Try filling out “Lifetime Goals Worksheet” found among our downloadable forms: Lifetime Goals

4. Do some research

That means finding out what you need, surfing the web for information, phoning around to find the best price, or reading consumer reports to learn about the product you want to buy.

5. Learn to manage your money

A simple budget can be a big help. Check out our Teen Cash Flow form by clicking on this link: Teen Cash Flow Form

Hopefully these simple tips will help you make some good decisions while you are becoming more independent. And hey, remember that everyone makes mistakes. When you do, admit it, try to make things right, and carry on, knowing that you have learned from your experience. Remember that success doesn’t usually happen in one dramatic moment. Usually it is the result of a series of small victories. So celebrate the steps you make, big or small – through them you are building the life you always wanted!