How a high-schooler sparked a change in my business.

This summer, I’ve had the privilege of coaching a dynamic, university-bound 18-year-old woman. Her mother contacted me last spring to ask if my transition coaching applied to recent high school grads. My answer was yes. And no.

Yes, the tools and resources I use with clients going through career and business transitions would be relevant in any situation.

No, I hadn’t coached a teen before.

The mother was worried that her daughter’s drive for perfection might take away from the joys of college life. Her hope was that her daughter would live “in the moment,” enjoy meeting new people, and soak in the experience. She explained how her daughter could be very “black and white,” and that navigating setbacks or disappointment was sometimes a challenge.

The “pressure for perfection” is serious.

If you read the news, you’re certainly exposed to heartbreaking messages about overprogrammed and overstressed teenagers. Young adults who have trouble navigating the pressures of college life. Teens who are unable to manage disappointment and setbacks in a healthy way. Anxiety, depression, and suicide rates have been rising in this age group. This recent New York Times article featuring students from the University of Pennsylvania captures the seriousness of what’s happening on college campuses around the nation.

Through my own research, I’ve found that there’s a missing support system for these young adults, who are facing one of the biggest transitions of adulthood. Even the institutions themselves have started to notice: Harvard, for example, has developed a noncredit class entitled “Reflecting on Your Life.”

Yes, there are college centers in high schools, involved (sometimes overly involved) parents, and friends who are interested in the school and major you choose . . . but what about the important stuff? Like:

  • Knowing (and voicing) who you are
  • What you stand for
  • What your core values are
  • How your college path can influence or deter from your dream
  • Developing skills for independence and resilience
  • Stress management strategies
  • Present moment awareness

Not to mention the critical lesson that sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Support leads to success.

When I was growing up, every single time I tried out for a team, ran for student government, or applied for a job, my dad used to say the same thing to me: “Tell them you’re lucky.” His rationale was that people liked to surround themselves with lucky people.

The truth is, I have been abundantly lucky my entire life. I’ve been surrounded by a supportive community during every major life transition: going off to college, moving to the East Coast, getting my first apartment, rebounding from a layoff after 9/11, leaving a job that wasn’t the right fit, starting a business. Supportive parents, siblings, professors, advisors, bosses, mentors, coaches, neighbors, and friends have helped me navigate these big changes.

It’s with this type of support in mind that I’m creating a group-coaching program specifically for college-bound women. Going off to college is the first of many big transitions, and I want to guide participants toward success during their time in college, and to equip them with the skills needed to have a fulfilling life beyond.

In this program, success is defined as learning the skills of cultivating happiness. Being able to handle setbacks. Living in the moment. Having confidence and being comfortable in your own skin. Defining your core values. Living those core values.

Of course, I’m aware that not everyone is fortunate to be surrounded by the kind of support system I have. For this reason, I’ve decided to offer coaching scholarships to young women in our community, in the hope that someday they’ll pay it forward, helping others when they’re given the opportunity, just like people have helped me along the way.

How you can help.

I’m in the beginning stages of putting together a needs assessment for this program, and as part of that process, I need to hear from parents of teenage daughters about their interest in this type of coaching program. I’ve written a brief six-question survey to help me determine the topics and format of the course. Just click the link to send me your input. Thank you.

Why am I expanding my business this way? Because it makes sense. My business is about helping people navigate life’s transitions—from leaving home for the first time, to landing your first job, to finding balance with career and family obligations, switching gears entirely, or winding down after a long career and simply looking for renewed purpose. I coach people going through transition from beginning to end. And I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.

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