Here’s the topic that this publisher asked us to write about …We are looking for your expert advice on leadership and personal development, particularly for people aged 16-24. What do young adults need to do differently from previous generations to be successful? With the impacts of today’s economic crisis, what do young adults need to do to prepare themselves for the “real world?”

19 years old – the most critical year of your life

Young adults ages 16 – 24 are at the phase in their life where they need to decide which way they will direct their energy or passion. This is where their true purpose and meaning resides. They don’t have to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer just because generations of family members have. They can follow their heart without outside pressure or criticism. This is where character is built and they begin to discover who they are. They may want to be an artist, musician, actor, salesperson, a fireman, teacher, or join the military. They have to realize they may never get another chance to choose their path. If they falter now, their path will be chosen for them. They will be living someone else’s dream and not their own. Want to be a bartender on a South Seas island? Then go for it now. Don’t wait. This may not be an option when you are 30 and married with kids.

Considering today’s economic crisis, you just can’t go to college and get a generic degree expecting a high paying job.

You may not even be able to get a student loan for school. So, you better be sure, that if you are paying for it yourself, to be studying your passion. Learning a trade from a 2-year trade school may be one of the only ways you will have job security in the future. Learn an in-demand trade that is transferable from city to city, state to state, and country to country. Plumbers, electricians, and programmers are needed everywhere. If you love animals, being a veterinary technician may be a very rewarding career. In fact, this would be a good time in their life to talk to people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (not their parents) to find out what they would have done differently when they were their age. It would also be good to talk to some people who went through the Great Depression to see what that was like. We could be facing another, bigger one.

Many young people with a dream to be their own boss may skip college and start their own business. With the right business plan, and maybe some of the money their parents were going to spend on a 4-year degree, they could get off to a solid start. If this is the case, they need to talk to successful business people who started their businesses when they were about the same age. What obstacles did they face?  How did they overcome them? What would they do differently? You don’t have to make the same mistakes. You don’t have to learn everything by trial and error.

Whatever you do don’t get side-tracked by the get-rich-quick schemes.

Unless it draws on your ‘real’ talents and passions, it’s the low road. Start from YOUR top down. It’s imperative that you draw on the talents and passions within you. It may not seem like the quickest way, but it is! In fact, it is your purpose in this life, what you intended to experience in this lifetime before you came here. That’s how powerful ‘it’ (you) are. Once you get a taste of this kind of success you will be hooked for a lifetime. Living your life in the fullest possible way, oh, by the way, the money rewards will follow. Not the other way around.

Personal development is just that – it’s personal. Nobody can do it for you. It’s a personal journey where you are the captain of your ship. If that ship misses the port, it’s probably not the fault of the port, a quote from Ray Holley.