Young Adult Self-Sabotage

Why are so many young people willing to self-sabotage every aspect of their potential future?
Young adult self-sabotage is everywhere. Not participating in class, not doing the required studying, staying up late, sleeping most of the day away and missing more and more school. For quite a few, video gaming and/or substance abuse is another big factor.

The most frustrating part of this is that these same people are very often gifted in some way and yet here they are ….. off the tracks.

Many young people today are able to thrive or at least get by in a nuclear or single parent family, learning from their caregivers and finding other elders to learn from at school, sports, dance, music, etc. These young people grow through the ritual of daily tasks of homework, tests and projects. Graduation becomes their rite of passage. But what if your child does not connect to such a system? This creates young adult self-sabotage.

You’ve tried it all — traditional therapy, behavioral therapy, conditioned response, pharmaceuticals, begging, pleading, tough love — and some of it worked for a while and some didn’t work at all.

Young adults sabotage can leave all concerned feeling hopeless sometimes.
Feeling that your child will never grow up and take responsibility, but it has been my experience that some alternative approaches can make a world of difference. Once your troubled teen or young adult goes beyond their regular world filled with all the trappings that keep him/her where they are and finds a support system with a mentor / life- coach who is non-judgmental, on their side and open to thinking “outside the box”, that child will become motivated to start the process of getting back on track.

Four ways to create success for a troubled teen or young adult.

  1. 1. Find a mentor to work with your child.
    Someone not from the immediate family, preferably through Skype. Skype sessions allow the client to learn positive new habits at the place where they usually get in trouble: their computers.

Have the mentor ask the student these pertinent questions:
a) Name three goals you would like to work on.
b) What are the challenges to those goals?
c) What would be the first sign-posts of success?

2. The mentor and the student can put together a daily routine based on the student’s goals and interests
(e.g. meditation, yoga, tai chi, weight lifting, biking, jogging, playing an instrument, singing and reading). Basically all the things we were told that have no real financial benefit. Start with two 5 – 15 minute routines to be attempted five to six days a week. Then slowly build up to as many routines that the client feels they can comfortably handle. (Five is a good final number.) Make a weekly worksheet that divides the tasks into columns. Make room for the student to write the duration of each daily exercise (0-20). The goal of these exercises is to empower the student. These exercises are self-motivated without help from the family.

3. Hold bi-weekly meetings discussing progress.
Looking at existing obstacles and exploring solutions to these obstacles in a non-judgmental way. Therapy works well in once-a-week sessions. Mentoring / life coaching young adults requires two times a week. We are building whole new structures to succeed. This requires six to nine months of twice-a-week support until the client has internalized the habits.

4. During these sessions the mentor asks: 
“If you could do anything at all with your life, without concern of how you would make it happen, what would you choose?”
With this answered, the mentor and the student can go about finding ways to put their toes into the pond of these life purpose quests. Whittling away at young adult self-sabotage. It could be a 12-week workshop, a college class, a volunteer position or starting a small business. This time is used to help the student bring his “daily work” training into these new situations. To enhance his successful patterns accordingly. For so many young people, their home has been their box of safety and joy. Something they find wonderful and yet limiting . . . not a good long-term strategy.

Mentoring young adults is an important goal is to help these newly empowered youth create the tools they need. Allowing them  to feel safe going out into the world successfully. To eradicate young adult self-sabotage, you need to create mini-boxes of safety for them to thrive in. Places where they can learn to be self-empowered. Without exception, students who go through the entire process choose self-empowerment over self-sabotage. They not only succeed but most often become examples of leadership in their chosen vocation.

Help your child find their inspiration and get on track for a successful life!

Know a teen or young adult in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Interested in Mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Young Adult Depression and Life Coaching Young Adults

What is young adult depression? One of the things I hear more often than anything else as a mentor for young adults is parents asking for help with their child’s school failures, depression, low self-esteem and video game (and/or pot) addiction.

Often the depression seems most prevalent on both the parent’s and the potential client’s (the young adult in question) mind. What I often say to this is: “Most of us tend to see things in reverse order”.

Reverse Memory Syndrome with Young Adult Depression:
When a client has a “discussion” with his or her parent for the bazillionth time about why they stay up so late, the parents tell the young person why they are doing it and why it’s wrong. The client tries to explain what is really going on. Neither side listens. Voices raise and finally the client tells the parents to do something that is anatomically impossible. That’s when the parents say: “We just tell you how you need to be more responsible about going to sleep at a good time and all you do is shout and scream and curse at us”. That is reverse memory syndrome. The escalation and the accusing gets lost as a factor in the final result.

Reverse memory syndrome is often the reason why the depression is foremost on the minds of the people who contact me with the issues stated above. Let’s deconstruct the actual order of events for these clients and parents contacting me.

When Millennials were magic.
This generation is the first one that was told that actually everything they did was perfect. They were the best crayoners; the best howlers; the best poopers; and everybody got a medal when they “competed”… (you wonder why they think they’re magic).

For this particular group, they were able to pull off acceptable or really good marks out of their butts at the last minute at school and of course, Mumzy and Dadzy told them “they were magic”!!

Until they weren’t magic anymore.
Fast forward to the time when pulling marks out your butt (beside being non-hygienic) no longer works for our magic client. What comes next? False epiphanies.

Most of the people I meet have at some time come up to “issues” that blocked them in their lives. When natural talent wasn’t enough anymore. At that point, if they come up with “gee, I better learn some new study habits and work harder” I never get to see them. However, if they go for the false epiphanies: “My magic is gone”, “I am stupid”, “The world is not safe” or “If I choose to fail and I do… then I’ve won”, that’s when they are getting into choosing bad coping mechanisms.

What are those coping mechanisms? Self-medication (Video games or pot), anxiety, negative self-speak (low self-esteem) or depression.

Being careful with issues such as young adult depression.
There are thee kinds of depression that one comes across as a mentor for young adults.

1) Situation-based depression where the client’s constant failures and inability to find a way out lead to depression.

2) Negative self-speak depression. Where the mind has stopped being a motivational force and has become the worst in-your-head parent constantly leading to you towards self-defeat. This requires learning to retrain the mind through mindfulness-based exercises (meditation, visualization or things like yoga).

3) True clinical depression; a chemical imbalance requiring mental health professionals to do what they do best and help find the best way to get back that proper balance.

When it comes to clinical young adult depression, a Mentor’s job is make sure that a good mental health specialist is onboard, chosen by the family and that we help make sure that this label is not all that the client becomes but is a new starting point to help that client find their personal powers.

For situation-based and negative self-speak based depression, we begin with choosing goals, the challenges to those goals and the first indicators of success, creating micro-successes through daily routines chosen by the client and with the client in charge. The Mentor’s job is to let the client walk every step of that journey and simply help them out of dead ends in a way that speaks to the client.

We teach the client organization skills that makes sense to them in incremental stages. How to pick the best times to succeed in adding studying into their lives when it seemed impossible before. The learn how to advocate for themselves with teachers, school staff and parents (seeing both sides of the equation).

We work on finding the mindfulness-bases system that best works for them
Deep Breathing, Visualization, Mediation or, for some Prayer. The client starts in five or ten minute increments. Beginning by doing the work first with their mentors and slowly being able to do it on their own over time. This is the beginning of self-motivated empowerment.

The big take away.
Everyone tends to see things in reverse. Become a detective, free of judgment and go back and look for false epiphanies, coping mechanisms and most importantly, seek out people outside the family to help Mentor the child and the family to find that person’s true magic. It is there, waiting to be found.

Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com

Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com

Finding The Confidence ……. To Find Love

As a life coach for troubled teens and unmotivated Millenials, I work with a lot of people with mental health issues ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. What is really a great honor is to have people in their teens and 20’s trust me enough to share their deepest thoughts about their lives with me.

Sometimes, these thoughts need to be shared. I am doing so now with permission.

Meet Reginald (Really? You think that there is a twenty-something schizophrenic living in Toronto in the 21st century named Reginald?!?). No, it’s not his real name. He is on a fair bit of medication which he takes consistently since we have been working together. Reginald has gone back to university and is following my regimen of taking one course in semester one, two in 2nd semester, all the way up to five once he has learned how to study efficiently, prepare to write papers (not in the 24 hours before its due) and work with T.A’s and teachers when something doesn’t make sense.

Regg is doing famously. He is also in a wheelchair, more round than tall and although when I met him he radiated “I know more than you” (which he often did) he now radiates the warmth, the grace, the brilliant humour which is how I know Reginald to be.

So here we are. Doing great at school (low 80’s), contributing really well in class and what should come along? Valentine’s day! And who is sitting next to him in class but a warm, sensitive woman who seems to “get” Regg’s humour and he senses there is something there. Now remember, this is Reginald 2.0. Through the work we’ve done he has found new faith in himself and his self-worth has grown with every task we have set upon doing and succeeding or figuring out how to rise above.

They go for coffee. They share thoughts. They share fears. Esmeralda shares the fact that she used to be a cutter and then Reginald tells her that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Esmeralda’s starts shifting uncomfortably in her seat, not making eye contact and shortly afterwards excuses herself due to a very bad headache. She also doesn’t sit on the same side of class anymore.

I see Regg twice a week, which I do with all my clients, better to reinforce good habits and less time to acquire bad ones. We meet the next day and he shares the Esmarelda incident with me.

What do you say to someone who is the most thoughtful, astute, wise and sensitive guy you could know who has just had all his self-worth shattered. His greatest fears realized. “No one will ever love me for who I am”.

This is not just the cry of all the Reginalds in the world. It is the call of a great many people out there who feel less than worthy.

I told Regg the simple truth: “Regg, you are special. There is no one like you and I feel honored to work with you, laugh with you and learn from you. There is no question that there are other people out there like me who will see you for who you are and women who will not care about any labels you may have. They will fall in love with you”.

You can’t just give up because you haven’t found love or met people who live their lives based on appearances or fear. You know that. Tell yourself: “I deserve to be loved. I deserve happiness and I will be patient and relentless in my pursuit of both”. Say it again.
Say it everyday into the mirror while looking into your deepest self.

To all the Reginalds and the Esmeraldas out there: Keep your eyes sharp, your hearts open, your faith strong and your resolve everlasting and Happy Valentines Day to those who are loved and those waiting to know that there is a lover out there who will love them as they are.

Check out more of Ken’s articles on Huffington Post by clicking here

Ten Tips For Fostering Creativity In Your Children

If you are a parent today in the western world, you have joined a very special club. A club of parents cast adrift, drowning in self-doubt while dodging waves of pyscho-babble lurching at them from every direction. It’s easy to throw blame around but what is the main question we all want the answer? “How do I help my child unfold to be their very best in today’s world?”

10 Tips to Foster Creativity in Your Children

Encourage your kids to sign up and embrace something that they love. Whether it’s drumming, hip-hop or clown school — give them opportunities to go out, sign up, and then make sure to give them the time and space to choose to do the work required at home.This is a recipe for self-discovery and building self-esteem.

1) Comedy: Join a comedy troupe. Then when someone asks: “What are you? A comedian?”, they can answer: “Yes!”

2) Start a Business: Dog walking. Cat sitting. Lawn mowing. Make something cool that people need like funky knitted hats. Find ways to get customers and learn how to keep them as well.

3) Write a Family History: It could be a book, a video, or it could be a blog. When you combine personal history with storytelling, you end up with a powerful creative skill.

4) Make Some Protest Songs: If you play an instrument you could write songs using your guitar or piano. If not, there are great music-creating software programs out there. Go out and sing those songs wherever and whenever you can.

5) Create Your Own Muppets: Find a character. Do parties. Go to hospital wards and have your new creation meet and greet. (That’s how Elmo started)

6) Knitting or Crocheting: This is huge these days with kids in their teens and twenties. There are knitting raves and flashmob knitting — it’s just a great thing that’s being re-invented. Yarn-bombing around telephone poles. Knitting cellphone covers, wine bottle covers, dog coats and more. This ain’t your Granny’s knitting!

7) Claymation: It’s slow — painstakingly so — but amazing. If you are willing to put in the time, you can create new universes and have them do what you want to do and say what you want them to say.

8) Filmmaking: This is how the great directors started: just doing it on their own on zero or minimal budgets. Sometimes, we can tell the very best story when we are limited in the way we can tell that story. Filmmaking on a budget can do that.

9) Cooking: Some film directors have likened making a film to cooking a meal: choosing your meal and getting the recipes is like the script. Shopping for the perfect ingredients is like shooting the film. Cooking the meal is like editing and the place setting and the food placement is like the theatrical opening of the show. See food that way and open up to a whole new experience in dining.

10) Write and Perform: Make your own musical on a theme that means something to you. This gets you to do some acting, singing, script-writing, set and costume design, marketing and build your organizational skills (when you get others involved).

It’s not important what creative outlet your child chooses, how they do it, or what they can do with it. It really is the process that enriches their lives. It teaches so many skills like patience, perseverance, faith in themselves and most important of all, it teaches them to marvel at the creative process from chaos to completion. A skill that many have lost appreciation for.

One last thing: If you are reading this, you are a parent who cares. Sometimes that may be all you need but never underestimate your child as a resource to guide you in what to do as a parent. Ask them. You may be surprised by their answers. Share in their creative endeavors as an impassioned spectator. Join in their communities and honour their mentors who earn your trust.

Empowering this new generation will give them something that stays with them their whole life. One of the most powerful forces for change is creativity. Nurture this in your children and you will open a place for self-worth to grow. A fantastic opportunity to believe in themselves. You have that power. That may be one of the greatest creative acts in a lifetime. Make it so!

Millenials, Save Yourselves With These Do’s and Don’ts

So, everything you were told was a lie.

You are not brilliant because you could play three strings on a guitar when you first picked it up. Your artwork really was just pieces of pasta, glue and paint… it wasn’t “just like Van Gogh”. It wasn’t the cutest thing when you first passed gas (or the last time in front of Grammie) and most importantly; doing what we did to get a job in 90’s now, will get you S.F.A unless being a barista and living in your parent’s basement is your idea of success. (Yes, I’m talking to you Bachelor in Social Anthropology)

Don’t you feel better now that all that is out of the way? And they wonder why you feel entitled, moody, depressed and full of anxiety.

I have some good news and some bad news

A lot of the Millenials really do act entitled and the amount of people in their 20’s who are barely coping with anxiety is friggin’ scary!

People in their 20’s tend to be “out of the box” thinkers. That means anything is possible if you look at life in different ways. Here are a list of 10 things that you should avoid and 10 things you should embrace. May the force be with you (I mean the Episode VII version, of course).

Don’t Do

10. Don’t settle for a job, waiting for your 76k a year position to fall in your lap… you’re not fooling anybody.
9. Don’t live with your parents. It’s soooo much easier but unless you are doing something to create your own future, you might as well make your own Spock ears and learn Klingon.
8. Don’t buy a crazy red BMW while living in said basement. You will have to bring whomever you pick up and date more than once to your basement, so unless you’ve done in your parents or they are working for Greenpeace with a long Russian layover, the car’s not fooling anybody.
7. Don’t sleep with everything that moves
. It really doesn’t help. Look at the Kardashians.
6. Don’t try to win friends and influence people by your bong-toking prowess
5. Don’t twerk. Just don’t.
4. Don’t measure yourself but how your successful friends live. They are doing the same thing and resenting the hell out of not being Justin Beiber. But seriously…
3. Don’t focus on your flaws. That’s your parent’s job.
2. Don’t make excuses. That’s Rob Ford’s job. (Remember him?)
1. Don’t give up, give in or run away.

Do do (Heh, I said “do do”.)

10. Do embrace your craziest inner passions. The things that you create that make you forget time when you are engaged in them. Yes, everyone will tell you that there is no money in it but money comes after all-consuming passion and mastery.
9. Do live with your parents! If you have a plan. If you do odd jobs to get the money to make your dreams come true. Just remember to act like a guest. Don’t make messes and show appreciation.
8. Do go after a crazy dream. Invest your time, your money and your heart in the thing you believe in with all of your heart and keep it to yourself until it is a done deal.
7. Do love everyone you meet. That’s easy if they are cool. But I also mean the loud ones, the rude ones, the annoying ones. Send them love (but keep a wide berth).
6. Do win friends and influence people. (Read the book)
5. Do not twerk. OK. I cheated, but it’s for your own good.
4. Do measure yourself in moment by moment micro-successes. Reading that extra article. Finishing that piece of music. Avoiding the extra treat. Cleaning one square foot of the floor in your room.
3. Do focus on your strengths. The ones you earn vs. your God-given talents.
2. Do own your mistakes. Admit them. Accept them. Embrace them. Frank Zappa and Miles Davis were geniuses partly because they weren’t afraid to mess up big.
1. Do not let your fears stop you. Take your passions, your talents, your earned accomplishments and make your dreams come true. Make them big. Make them crazy and don’t stop no matter what.

You are brilliant.
You are your own work of art.
But you must practice it.
Live it!
Be it!

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To check out Ken’s website for helping troubled teens and unmotivated millenials, click RealLifeCoaching.ca
Want more Ken Rabow articles? Click Real Life Coaching Blogs
To contact Ken for a Free 15 Minute Consultation Click Contact Ken
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Mental Health Issues in Teens and Young Adults

Facts About Mental Health In Our Youth
According to the mental health commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness. Only one in four children or youth who experience a mental health problem or illness report that they have sought and received services and treatment.

The Big Question(s) for Parents
The world today is label-happy. Go see a specialist with a troubled child and end up with a fixed diagnosis that may or may not be helpful. It can be the start of true healing or it can become a self-fulfilling label that limits the child’s beliefs and capabilities by thinking that this is all that they are. How do we help our children when they are suffering from what seems to be a mental health problem without stigmatizing them, getting them the help they need and the support they deserve?

There is Too Much Misinformation Out There.
The biggest danger is false or partial information. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas about mental health issues. They include but are not limited to:
1) understanding the illness in terms of the impact on the child and the family
2) medications – side effects, benefits and long term use
3) available treatments
4) advocating for your child
5) helping the patient gain insight on their illness
6) helping the patient be part of the healing process
7) how psychiatric forms work (should they be necessary).

The Big Answer for Parents
The big answer is that there are no big answers. We have to look at each individual client as their own person, free of the labels that some professionals would like to box them into. By looking at the total individual, we can come to an out-of-the-box way of seeing them and choosing the proper methods of creating a good mental health strategy. Starting them on a road towards their own successful lives, aware of but not limited by their conditions. With our life empowerment coaching added, you will also have ongoing support on this journey.

Contact us now for a free consultation!

Lack of self-Esteem – The Two Sides

I have met with many young people who limit themselves on a daily basis by repeating certain mantras:
“I don’t know”
“I’m so stupid”
“I’ll never be able to do that”
“I can’t do x”
“It’s not my fault”
“I don’t care”

Each and every one of these are coping mechanisms designed to allow a person to avoid being judged. That may seem counter-intuitive as the speakers of these and other similar self-limiting phrases are often harshly judged by their audiences yet, in some way, because it is “just something I always say”, they feel that they are cushioned from the very thing they fear… failure.

Before we look at a solution, I would like to give you to very different types of clients that I see who tend to say these sorts of things:

1. The Self-Abusers.
These people tend to have taken the worst of things that they have heard in their younger years and immortalized it their mind’s ear on an infinite playing loop.

2. The Harsh Critics

Although this second group appears the same as the first group, they differ in that if you were to get to the bottom of their thought process, you would find that they are trying to tell the listener that they know they messed up and that they care. (Strange but true).

In both cases, I recommend that they go to a on-line video site of their choosing and check out their favorite products’ commercials. We analyze a few of them (that I feel gets the point across) and learn that the most effective way to cement or change a belief is by repeating it over and over.

If this works in the negative, then maybe it can work for positive.
We then take one thing that they can sort-of agree is a good thing about themselves and come up with a phrase. They then try repeating it over and over. After that, we look for a time in their lives when they felt strong, or powerful and we create an inventory of feelings, sounds, smells and sights that accompany this wonderful moment. We finally mix those feelings with the original positive phrase and within three weeks… the first level of changes begin.

Is it quick? No.
Is it easy? Not really.
Does it work? When done correctly… every time.

Using Our Child’s Strengths and Challenges To Succeed

We can change our lives for the better right now!
It starts with looking at the strengths and challenges in our daily life. Through our challenges, we can understand the patterns that keep repeating and the self-limiting tapes running in our sub-conscious. Our strengths can inspire us to rise over these repeating patterns and tapes, leading us to a richer life. I invite you to try these exercises:

Exercise One: C.O.S.
A) Challenges – Write down three things that are challenges in your daily life.
B) Obstacles – Think about what stops you from getting beyond each of these challenges.
C) Success – Choose something that would show you that had been successful in rising above that challenge.

Exercise Two – Strengths:
A) Talent – Write down something that you are good at.
It may be what you know you do well or it may be something that comes easily to you but dismiss because “anyone can do that”. They are both strengths.
B) Inspiration – Think of a person, past or present, who you find inspiring.
When you find yourself in a frustrating situation, ask yourself:
“What would they do?”
C) Power Place – Imagine a situation that makes you feel powerful.
It could be something you’ve seen or heard about.

It could be something you hope will one day happen.

Try to make it feel real through your strongest senses.
Imagine what it would feel like to be experiencing that right now.
Something very powerful happens when you write down your challenges and strengths.

By choosing an indicator for success, you are allowing your mind to consider success.

As you move forward in the 13 steps to success for young adults,
you may find that you end up modifying what you have written down in these first exercises. That is to be expected.

A great film director was once asked what the most important quality for a leader was.

He responded that it was the ability to make an immediate decision.
It didn’t matter if it was right or wrong, that could be corrected, but once the crew sensed that decisiveness, they could relax into their jobs, knowing there was direction.

The same is true of our sub-conscious.
It is that crew waiting to be led and our will becomes the director.

What will these exercises do for you? They will create a direction.

Will your answers change? Probably.
Are they the perfect choices? Time will tell but they are a great start.

Here are some things you can do starting today with these exercises:

Daily Practice:
1) Choose the challenge that you wish to work on first.
Reflect on the obstacle that is in your way.
Choose three things you can do to “soften” the obstacle.
Decide to work on one aspect of this a day until you begin to see your indicator for success emerging.

Then move on to the next challenge.
It sometimes help to have an outside person work on this with you.
A mentor can often be very helpful.

2) Each night just before falling asleep, imagine your power place.
Live it as if it was happening to you right now.
Take in every feeling of it.
Decide to let yourself be open to things that happen during your day which bring you closer to making your power place a reality.

3) When you wake up, take a moment to reflect on one quality that your inspirational person has.

It could be one you have used before or a new one. Decide to implement that quality today.

4) Keep a journal.

The longest journey begins with a single step ……Lao-tzu

Why Do Some Teens Never Seem To Achieve Their Goals?

Have you ever heard someone say this? “Stop crying, it’s nothing!” or “Don’t worry, it isn’t a big deal that you (fill in the blank).” Or “What are you upset about? It isn’t as if you (fill in the blank).”

What do these sayings, said over and over by well-meaning guardians, have to do with never achieving one’s goals? In trying to protect the youngest of people, we often diminish what they perceive as powerful moments. By telling them their emotions are meaningless, we create false epiphanies in them: “Well, if it’s nothing then I’ll show them! I’ll never succeed and they’ll be sorry.” These things are rarely said aloud except in moments of extreme angst, but they are often repeated over and over in our subconscious mind.

So, flash forward 12 years… Now that teen has these false epiphanies firmly ensconced in their noggin. What can they do?

To read more, go the Huffington Post article by clicking here

ADD/ADHD in Teens and Young Adults – The Easy Diagnosis

Why is it that’s diagnoses for ADHD have gone up by multiples of a 100 in the past two generations?
There’s no question that it is easier to medicate a problem then it is to change a way of thinking.

Before I go on to share an alternative treatment that I’ve used with great success on a lot of teens and young adults who have been told that they have ADHD, let me say that for a certain percentage of people, medication can have a profoundly transformative effect.

Here’s the odd thing; 9 out of 10 people who come to me, claim to have some form of ADHD. What I often find are creative, inquisitive, multi-tasking minds, bereft of discipline.

How do we help young people who have been trained through the use of Internet, online chatting, texting, video walk watching, done all at the same time while gaming to not focus and supposedly “Multitask” to learn to focus?

We first have to understand is that the human mind is incapable of multitasking. What we do is, in effect, jump back-and-forth from one area of interest to the other virtually training our minds to be deficient in a linear attention span.

We have a natural ability to focus on things that grab our attention. But there is a natural ebb and flow to that ability. Filmmakers have used this ability and played with it through the use of tension and resolution. Just watch an Indiana Jones film for the brilliant use of tension and resolution (the calming scenes and the high-energy scenes) for how the push between these two forces to keep our interest.

In this art is the key to our own ability to enhance our attention to anything for longer and longer periods.

A Case Study

First Contact Email:

Ken: hi there. I am (name withheld)’s partner and we spoke back in the summer about my son “J”. “J” is still struggling and he has said that he would meet with you. Unfortunately, he will only be home from late today until the morning of the 27th. Is there a day you could meet with him before Christmas and then if that works, continue with Skype sessions when he returns to Queen’s?

“J” did very well in high school, getting straight A’s but always had attention problems. When he reached grade 10 he started smoking pot and his marks went downhill from there. He suffers from low self-esteem and never seems to finish what he starts. He takes on too many projects and then gives up when the going gets tough.

Now in University, he keeps having to let go of courses to not fail them. He started with five courses and is now left with two, of which he is getting a C- average.

First Session:

“J” and I met and there was a good connection. I noticed that as long as I changed gears (in ideas and themes) every six to ten minutes, “J” was focused and completely “there” for every part of the discussion. When I showed this to “J” he was extremely pleased with himself as he had completely bought into his inability to keep his attention on any one thing.

We created a study regimen in three 5 to 15 minute sessions with 15 minute breaks in-between.

Six weeks (12 sessions) later
The study regimen is at four 5-30 minute sessions with 5-15 minute breaks in-between.
“J” is generally keeping to 25 minutes of solid focus and his tests are coming back in the high 70’s, low 80’s and one 87.5!

We have also used visualization exercises as a way of getting control of his thinking process. Staring with a seven minute mp3 used 4 times a week and progressing to 12 minutes a day.

Finally, “J” has minimized his coffee intake and his chocolate intake (of his own choosing). In his particular case, this has seemed to have a very positive effect.

Tips for Teens with Bad Study Habits

For the students:
So, you’ve been hoping and buying into “the dream” that somehow, by keeping your science book under your pillow, it will all seep in. Or maybe, they will have some information on the Peloponnesian wars on the Family Guy marathon. How about, “I study best under pressure”? Or that tried and true classic “French is easy! All you have to do is sound like Inspector Clouseau when you say “duz yor dogue bat“? (“He’s not mah dogue“).

Well, we know how this ends up. You’ve received your mid-term marks, some of them squeaked by and some of them looked like you had a chimp take the exam (and not that clever one from Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

You have two choices:
Plan A: Continue to see your school future flushing down the proverbial toilet and say (to whomever you choose to blame) “well, if you believed in me more I’d do better,” or make a new plan. Let’s try Plan B, shall we?

Plan B is about knowing your strengths, knowing your limitations and building on micro-successes. Successes so small most people won’t notice, and you will get the time you need to believe in yourself without being overwhelmed.

Let’s face it, if you’re in this pickle, your study habits are probably non-existent and your parents’ expectations are something like: since you have so little time left you should be spending every waking and sleeping moment studying till you can’t stand it, then sit and study some more.

But you know and I know that faced with that option you’re sure that your head will actually explode (like that guy in Scanners) and if you could have done that (minus the exploding head part) you would have already done that. So, that ain’t happening.

Here is how to build a last-ditch effort to save your exams and create better possibilities for the following terms.

Five simple steps to change your exam destiny:

1) Do something you can hold yourself to.
You may catch yourself saying things out loud that you know you will never do (“OK, I won’t work today but tomorrow I’ll do twice as much!”) Try figuring out what you can actually do; Maybe two one-hour sessions with a 10 or 15 minute break in between. When you are working on something and you start to be really annoyed by it, go do something else for a while and come back to the offending subject later. It will seem less annoying.

2) Push it.
It is important to come back to it. You are teaching your inner-self that you can go further without the head exploding type of incident. Try adding 10 per cent more time each day until you get to a study time that is just too much. Then go back to the previous day’s study time. (Basically 10 per cent less.)

3) Poke into your “comfy time.”
At this point, you have figured out when you will do your study time each day and I’m guessing the rest of your home time is made up of all the stuff that drives your parents nuts. (Because you aren’t spending every moment studying.) Let’s call this time your “comfy time.”

Somewhere in the middle of that time, go back and work on one task, taking up either five minutes of time or one problem. Then you can go back to comfy time. This may not seem like much to an outsider, but it has so many benefits for you. First of all, if you can do this (tell yourself that it really will take just a little time and don’t let your inner id-self take over) you are beginning to take control of your future higher-character traits. Second, some part of your brain will believe that it has to stay on guard brain-wise, and will keep all the new info in your noggin’ with a bit more clarity. Third, there are benefits that no one can explain to you until you have done it — but it really helps.

4) Push some more.
On a given day, ask yourself the following: will an extra half-hour of gaming change my life? Because an extra half-hour of studying can.

5) Do it for yourself.
You are the main one who will benefit from this process. Do it to feel better about you.

Now, for the parents, here’s the hard part for you: it is so easy, as you see the exams coming around again and seeing your child about to make the same mistakes as last time, to freak out and try to strong-arm them into study submission. This never works. Never!

It might work one time but there can be no follow-through, and what will happen when you aren’t there anymore to strong-arm them? Show them these five steps and then (here’s the hard part) let them make their choices. Right here, they have the keys to make differences that won’t be stellar, but will be incremental, self-empowering and permanent.

One last thing to the students:
Your job in life is to rise above the people that came before you. It’s OK to do that. The best way is by challenging yourself and the easiest way to do that is in micro-movements of success. Pretty soon, it will be your standard equipment.

You can do it!

Phobias – Fear of Fear Itself

So many young people come to me these days with different levels of fears. The effect of these fears range from stopping them from succeeding all the way up to almost complete debilitation.

These are some of the fears I come across in trouble teens and young adults on a regular basis:

Fear of failure;
Fear of humiliation;
Fear of large crowds;
Fear of sleeping alone;
Fear of learning to drive;
Fear of life itself and basically fear of seeking new adventures.

The clients who come to me have tried all sorts of things to overcome these fears: talk therapy, medication, CBT, hypnosis and all traditional and some non-traditional modalities.

My success rate in overcoming these fears is between 90 and 95%. It has very little to do with me or my process but it has everything to do with tapping into the inmate positive powers that rests within each and every person.

I cannot deny that teaching some breathing techniques, some grounding techniques and some visualizations to create a “safe place” no matter where they are or what is happening is of great benefit, but the real transformation comes from taking whatever talents/strengths they have and starting a daily routine that involves doing the things that they have a connection to: (Writing, playing an instrument, dance, photography, Etc.).

Using something that they feel a connection to, we create a daily routine that helps them focus on the strength and power of doing something on a daily basis, rather than focusing on their fears. Each challenge is seen through the lens of how can we get back to their daily routine, free of judgment.

After a while, the client learns how to take any situation, analyze it and figure out a way through the challenges.

We then incorporate the strengths of current success to approach medium to minor fears, slowly building up the skills of: solid foundation, belief in oneself, good communication skills (Within and without), and “true grit”.

By focusing on what works, we teach these young people that you amplify what you focus on. The fears are approached from every angle possible in their newfound confidence helps dissolve those fears.

If you have any questions on the subject please feel free to send me an e-mail and I will get back to you on your questions within 24 hours. Click here

Why Some Kids Derail Themselves and What We Can Do To Prevent It

Why are so many young people willing to self-sabotage every aspect of their potential future? Not participating in class, not doing the required studying, staying up late, sleeping most of the day away and missing more and more school. For quite a few, video gaming and/or substance abuse is another big factor.

The most frustrating part of this is that these same people are very often gifted in some way and yet here they are ….. off the tracks.

Many teachers are doing great work in classrooms, helping all sorts of `different learning styles but how can teachers know how to work with people who don’t show up to class, don’t submit their work completed and don’t seem to care?

Could it be, that the keys to these young people’s success are the same ones that have allowed mankind to thrive for millions of years? Through evolution, we have been hard-wired to work as social tribes, offering our children the opportunity to learn from a wide range of elders.

Most young people today are able to thrive or at least get by in a nuclear or single parent family, learning from their care-givers and finding other elders to learn from at school, sports, dance or music, etc. These young people grow through the ritual of daily tasks of homework, tests and projects. Graduation becomes their right of passage. But what if your child does not connect to such a system?

You’ve tried it all; traditional therapy, behavioral therapy, conditioned response, pharmaceuticals, begging, pleading, tough love and some of it worked for a while and some didn’t work at all.

It may seem hopeless sometimes, feeling that your child will never grow up and take responsibility but it has been my experience that some alternative approaches can make a world of difference. Once your child goes beyond their regular world filled with all the trappings that keep him/her where they are and finds a support system with a mentor who is non-judgmental, on their side and open to thinking “outside the box”, that child will become motivated to start the process of getting back on track.

Tips for creating success for your child

1) Find a mentor to work with your child, someone not from the immediate family, preferably at their office, on Skype or the phone and have the mentor ask the student these pertinent questions:
a) Are you happy with how things are going in your life?
b) Do you see your present way of being as a viable long term strategy?
c) If you could be doing anything with your life, what interests would you wish to take on?

2) The mentor and the student put together a daily routine based on the student’s interests i.e. Meditation; Yoga; Tai Chi; Weight Lifting; Biking; Jogging; Playing an Instrument (or singing); Reading; basically all the things we were told that have no real financial benefit. Start with two -twenty minute routines to be attempted 5 to 6 days a week. Slowly building up to as many routines that the student feels they can comfortably handle. (Five is a good final number) Make a weekly worksheet that divides the tasks into columns with room for the student to write the duration of each daily exercise (0-20). The goal of these exercises it to empower the student, these exercises are self-motivated without help from the family.

3) Bi-weekly meetings discussing progress, looking at existing obstacles and exploring solutions to these obstacles in a non-judgmental way. 

4) During these sessions the mentor asks: 
“If you could do anything at all with your life, without concern of how you would make it happen, what would you choose?”
With this answered (this can take some time) the mentor and the student go about finding ways to put their toes into the pond of these life purpose quests. It could be a 12 week workshop, a college class, a volunteer position or starting a small business. This time is used to help the student to bring his “daily work” training into these new situations and enhance his successful patterns accordingly.

I have heard many young people come to me stating that up until this time in their lives, their home has been their box of safety and joy, which they find wonderful and yet limiting… not a good long term strategy.
With this mentoring system, an important goal is to help these powerful people create the tools they need to feel safe going out into the world succesfully. Creating mini-boxes of safety for them to thrive in. Places where they can learn to be self-empowered. Without exception, students who go through the entire process choose self-empowerment over self-sabotage. They not only succeed but most often become examples of leadership in their chosen vocation.

Help your child find their inspiration and get on track for a successful life.

Mentoring Young Adults Can Help Your Child

To know why mentoring young adults may be the proper way out of the challenges many parents face these days, we must look at where so many families find themselves. There are so many parents of troubled teens and young adults who are at their wits end, not knowing how to deal with their children. Communication is an issue. Hygiene is an issue. Sleep is an issue. Video gaming and overuse of the Internet is an issue. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more of issues than anything else! Let’s look at why mentoring young adults may be the solution for your child.

Finding Success through Life Coaching Young Adults
People seek a life coach for teens and young adults when they come to a certain realization. It’s okay to have an outside party be there to create something more than medication or talk therapy may achieve. That something is a slow and steady concrete process. One that will bring hope back to your child. One of earning their own belief in themselves. To be successful and rise above challenges and failures. To learn that failures and mistakes are the route to their greatness. Most importantly, to learn the value in day-to-day simple disciplines. Disciplines based on things that they would enjoy doing, bringing a rightly earned self-confidence to them.

The Proven Method
My book “The Slacker’s Guide To Success” chronicles the entire 13 step process, but to put it in a nutshell: a young person needs to seek out a life coach that they are willing to trust and be open to trying new things with. They must then be willing to look at their goals and their challenges to succeeding and finally to start a daily chart of the small successes that will instill in them a sense of the possibility of succeeding in the real world.

How Some People Limit Struggling Teens and Young Adults
I meet so many young people that so many have said of them that they will never be able to succeed. Often, all the family and relatives were hoping for was for things to not get worse and yet these young people have soared and have found their greatness.

The ones who did not succeed, did not succeed because the expectations from their family and friends were for an immediate fix. The kind of profound inner changes I am speaking about in this article are slow and steady. But if all those concerned take the time, have the patience, determination and certitude to see this through, the rewards will be immeasurable.

Remember This:
Do not give up hope. Do not think that you are alone. Reach out for someone to help you and the changes will come. They may be slow but they will be astounding…  Ken Rabow

Update by Ken Rabow – Dec 2017
Here it is four years later and I find that in life coaching young adults, I am still finding so many teens and young adults with anxiety, sleep issues, communication challenges and more. The good news is that working with this system, mentoring young adults really does help these young people AND their families have successful lives where they can hope again for a great future.

What does it take? Find the right mentor to mentor young adults. Taking the time to let them learn the system, to create positive daily routines and grow as a young adult. To fall on their butts, dust themselves off and try again.

Mentoring young adults is not a fast solution but if it works for your child, it is a long lasting solution. Mentoring young adults can help them throughout their lives. It requires the same work to un-mess up someone as to help them find their greatness. Most parents come to us bereft of hope. They want to help their child not fail. As people mentoring young adults, we seek how to help them not only not fail but to soar to greatness. Each person has greatness in them. Sometimes a mentor is the best way forward.

To learn how to become a professional mentor for young adults, click here