Career & Education

How to succeed this new school year

Sunday, September 03, 2017

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The summer is over and school's back in session. That's a relief for many parents who were eager to get their kids out of the house. For the kids though, a new school year can be at once exciting and daunting. A new school, a different classroom, new teachers, new friends, new courses, etc, coupled with the transitions of adolescence can cause some anxiety and uncertainty, but I'm here to tell you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and ALL YOU NEED IS INSIDE YOU.

Adolescence is the time to find yourself; for some, it's the 'wonder years' in which you begin to have big dreams and start pursuing them. Others question themselves and can lose faith. I remember my teen years: I moved to boarding school, then started college, and suffered a crisis of confidence as I questioned my self-worth and place in the world, terrified at the size of my dreams. Luckily, I kept going. Luckily, I didn't fail. I prayed... hard. In time, the fear fell away, then I happened to watch The Secret and I haven't looked back. As teens, it is easy to feel as though your dreams are unattainable and impractical, or that you are not enough to make them happen. But as I said before, YOU ARE ENOUGH and ALL YOU NEED IS INSIDE YOU.

That notwithstanding, you have to be prepared to work really really hard and to expect nothing, because you are owed nothing. This doesn't mean that you are to approach life from a pessimistic angle (which only leads to deterioration of health and well-being and will make you miserable and disappointed no matter what), it just means that you should not behave as though you are owed good grades, or a scholarship, or an easy time of it just by virtue of your existence. Expect to work hard and smart because that's all there is — hard work. Successful people work very hard; don't be fooled by social media. The formula hasn't changed.

Here are some tips on how to succeed this year and in life.


Follow people on social media who have done what you hope to do and who exemplify serious work ethic. I follow teens, for example Taylor Moxley, who are effecting massive change in their communities. Take our own Jadan Johnson, teen entrepreneur and NGO founder. He's 19 and has had such an impact locally and internationally, and I know he is just getting started. Gary Vee is another boss I recommend. He's not a teen but he goes so hard for what he wants that you can't help but feed off his energy.


An idea planted in your mind, followed by action, can change your entire life. Expand your mind. Start with the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.


If you start from the angle of “getting rich quick” you're almost doomed to failure. Instead, think of a problem you would like to solve. Think of something or some things you really enjoy doing. How can they be used to solve problems or help people? You have to be passionate and really interested in adding some kind of value to the world, and inevitably you will find a way to profit. Don't jump on ideas without planning, without thinking, and without working out whether they are feasible. There are a few steps that every teen with big dreams can take to make it count and to work towards their big dreams. A few of them are noted below:

Ask yourself, what can I do to help build Jamaica? It is in looking beyond self that you find real joy and success. Use your talent/ability/passion or interest to serve and you will get the ideas and network you need to create a profitable business. Promise!

Create a five-year plan

Where do you want to be in five years? What position do you want to have? Whether this is written in a notebook, typed in an e-mail, pasted in a scrapbook, or laid out on a vision board, WRITE it down. I personally recommend a visionboard. Goals or plans that are written down are more likely to be achieved. No matter where you record your five-year plan, do it because, guess won't feel inspired all the time. There will be days when you lose sight of the vision and feel as though all your momentum is gone. These are the days when you need to spend some time reminding yourself of your five-year plan and having your past self act as your coach. If you don't write it down, it becomes easy to forget what you're working towards. So go ahead, make your five-year plan, and in five years you'll know it was worth it!

Baby steps. MicroGoals Rome wasn't built in a day. How can you build a house without first laying its foundation? When we see the finished product in our mind, we can feel disheartened when we see how much work there is to be done. To overcome this, the best thing to do is to create a detailed plan. A five-year plan helps you find direction on your journey to success, but a detailed plan involves making sure there's gas in the car to get you there. Make a checklist of the small steps you have to take. Accomplishing these little victories is sometimes all we need to keep us motivated. So there are just a few months left in 2017 — make a plan for those months.

Dream BIG, but have sense too! Knowing your limits is equally as important as knowing your strengths. Big dreams often come with big budgets, dedication, and discipline. Make sure that you have thought about AND are PREPARED to do what it takes! Make sure you have the capacity to carry out the plan; nothing is wrong with stretching; if you fall short you're further along than if you hadn't stretched. Stretch goals must have a plan behind them though, so be pragmatic (to some extent). And remember, being realistic doesn't mean never taking risks. Just get ready to keep going no matter what the setbacks.

Don't walk alone. It takes a village to reach a goal. No matter how independent, stubborn, or strong-willed you are, you are going to need people in your camp who've got your back. Taking on a big dream by yourself is a recipe for frustration. Even if you can perform each task better than anyone else, trying to perform them all will provide you diminishing returns on productivity and results. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Talk to your family and friends and ask them to talk to their family and friends too! The best results come when you have a solid support system of people around you who are willing to help recommend a resource, put in time, or connect you to the right folks.

Dream big, trust yourself, make each day count, and you will achieve your goals.

Nicole McLaren Campbell is the founder and CEO of Aim Educational Services, an independent college admissions counsellor, and public speaker. Contact her at




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