not beginning with the end in mind is a mistake that so many students make

Mistakes make us human…

Mistakes also can hurt like hell. There are financial mistakes, relationship mistakes, business mistakes, parental mistakes…regardless of where you live, what your financial standing is or what work you do mistakes do happen.

Steven Covey in his landmark classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, touched upon numerous areas which people tend to slip up on and it is well worth picking up if you’re serious about success in business or in life.

While the world continues to change at breakneck speed, it seems that many of us are still very much stuck in the past.

Economic solutions for years gone by are being applied to our global economy. Education continues to focus on reading, writing and listening when more focus needs to be given to rhetoric, negotiation, leadership and how to use technology effectively.

It amazes me that here in Japan, despite smartphones, iPads, high speed Internet and bullet trains how many kids are so unprepared for the real world and are often shell-shocked upon graduation at their lack of job opportunities.

Just today I was talking to a good friend and I said that I believe that my father’s generation was the last to truly benefit from a college degree.

That may sound strange coming from an educator, but I see so many well educated people unable to meet the demands of the modern age.

As Japan and much of Europe and the US are dealing with recessions, people choose to invest money into college degrees that pay off less and less.

I shudder to think of how much my father spent on my liberal art education. And while it paid off for me as I have my own business, am building two brands and also had the chance to meet the woman of my dreams, for many others I can’t say it’s been all that for them.

My father’s generation understood what a college degree meant. It meant work. It meant not worrying about their future.

Today that is no longer the case. A college degree has become average. College students thinking that they will be set for life are very much mistaken.

More and more people are finding out the hard way that a college degree means pretty much what a high school degree meant for my father. Only one big difference; a college degree comes with a hefty price tag.

I read somewhere earlier this year that students graduating in 2011 was (on average) $25,500 in debt upon leaving college. Combine this with the highest unemployment rates for college students in years and you begin to run into problems.

Too many students choose to major in a subject that they are good in or are interested in so that they will be able to enjoy college, graduate with the least amount of trouble and then get a job.

I get it. I did it. But this is a mistake, let me explain.

Steven Covey says to begin with the end in mind. But this is not what students do.

They begin and work forward, hoping that everything works out.

Why do students go to college? Is it because they love studying? I don’t think so. Is it because their parents love spending lots of money? Again, nope.

It’s because it is what has become expected of them. It is the route that they should take. Masters and doctorates are optional, but many people know that a college degree is pretty much mandatory these days.

Students also believe that they will be able to live comfortably, providing for their family for the rest of their lives.

But doing what? That is the big question and one that most students don’t have an answer for.

Students are working hard, hoping that things will work out for them, unsure just what that means.

Let’s apply Steven Covey’s concept to students.

Instead of choosing a subject they like, they should look into the future and see which occupations will be sought after.

I think we can all agree that these subjects will be big in the future:

  • Biotechnology
  • Computers,
  • Energy
  • Chinese
  • Food
  • Water Purification

Choosing a degree in one of these areas, means the best chance at a fruitful career.

Choosing a subject, such as Asian Studies or philosophy limits your options. That doesn’t mean I’m saying these aren’t good things to study, what I am saying is that the job opportunities will be limited. Why invest an arm and a leg, not to mention a good deal of time, if the only job you can get with your degree isn’t something you want to do.

Sure, we need teachers, but we don’t need just teachers.

We need doers. We need creators. We need entrepreneurs.

As school is meant to prepare students for the real world, I only wish more students would get students to apply Steven Covey’s 2nd habit.

I dream of being a big-time speaker. That is what I want to do. So I worked back from there and started implementing each step to get me there.

With my path clearly mapped out, it’s easy to know which way to go.

And I encourage everyone, students, parents and business people alike, to use this concept in designing their future.

Remember, either you design your future or you don’t and end up having to rely on the “cross-finger theory” as Jim Rohn, my mentor, used to say.

The future will be here sooner than you think. Get started today.

Adrian Shepherd

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