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6 things to consider for Life after the Leaving Certificate

Ian Byrne @thetimecoach, shares his top 6 insights into Life after the Leaving Certificate exams.

1. YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE YOUR LIFE FIGURED OUT: Why do we expect teenagers to have the pathway of their life decided at just 17 or 18 years of age. Most people never truly know what they want out of life so why should a teenager be expected to have that clarity. Don't panic if you don't know what you want right now. You are young, and you have plenty of time to settle in your career. Life experience will help you create perspective and navigate a clear pathway for you to follow in your life. Ignore the social norms and pressures. Don't follow the crowd and do what you are "supposed" to do or what your parents tell you to do. Find your passion and craft a career for yourself with something you love doing. I would recommend that you actively search for areas in which your strengths and passion lie, and become aware of your values as a person along the way. This will serve you well in life. Career paths may change during your life but your authenticity as a person should remain real. Become aware of your values and live by them. That is what is most important. Credentials, qualifications, and career paths can be achieved and attained at any stage in life. There is no normalised timeline for all of us to follow. It is individual to the person. If you already know what you want to do after school then fantastic, if not, then that's also fine. Success and clarity takes time. Be conscious of finding what you love but don't put a timeline on your life.

2. YOUR RESULTS DON'T DEFINE YOUR POTENTIAL! DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF: The Leaving Certificate can be a very stressful time for students, their parents, and for teachers. In a very objective system that measures a generic output through a generic set of tests, we need to remember that students are not robots and a persons potential is far more complex than a grade attached to a piece of paper. People are not all programmed to like the same things or learn in the same way. We all have personal character traits and personal interests driven by our genetics and the different environments we have grown up in. Some people have developed an interest for academia and some haven't. Some have access to resources and supports in and out of school while others don't. Some have been brought up to value the education system and are suited to the style of assessment, while some students simply aren't. As Albert Einstein once said "If you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree then it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid". If you're a monkey then you will find climbing the tree easy. if you're that fish, then remember it is the system that has let you down. It is not your fault. Go search for an environment that resembles the sea so you can go and flourish. You are in control of your next steps after school. Find the environment in which you will thrive and achieve happiness.

3. LIFE IS FULL OF UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCES. BE PREPARED: You will have lots of highs and lots of lows in life. These times will all pass, even though it may not seem like it at the time. Embrace the experience of life, apply the right work ethic and attributes as often as possible, and remember that you need to be resilient to face the inevitable setbacks life throws your way. Maybe that might be in the form of not achieving the results you wanted in your exams, maybe it might be a relationship breakup, a work setback, a confidence issue, or the loss of a loved one. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't. That is the book of life. There will be great chapters and there will be difficult ones. We can't predict what's around the corner in life. The exams may not be a nice time for you and the results might turn out to be unfavourable but they are finished, the moment has passed, you can move on, and start the next stage your life. Time passes and the stress of exams and results will pass. Don't put too much emphasis on them. Just do your best and if thats not good enough you can always do them again if thats what will help you get to where you want to go.

4. WE CAN ALL ADD VALUE TO THE WORLD: I wish students, teachers, and parents spent more time worrying about the quality of the person at the end of the schooling process and less about the points. We put way too much emphasis on the wrong things. In a world in which anything is possible, we need to remove the stigma that a good Leaving Cert means you'll live a successful life, and a poor Leaving Cert means you're doomed for failure. With the right support networks and self-belief, there are endless possibilities for everyone to achieve after school has finished. Value the person, the traits, and the process needed for success over the outcome of the Leaving Certificate. Life is a beautiful thing and we can all make the world a better place if we apply our strengths into something functional. This can be achieved irrespective of the amount of points you obtained.

5. STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND PARENTS NEED TO RE-EVALUATE SUCCESS: I've witnessed the good sides, the bad sides, and the ugly sides of our Education system. What frustrates me most, is the lack of consideration we have put into the quality of the person at the end of the schooling process: physically, mentally and emotionally. We definitely don't prepare people for life and we don't equip them with the skills to cope with the challenges life puts our way. We say we want students to be happy and healthy yet we promote the opposite. A highly stressful unbalanced lifestyle to achieve a set of results that can have detrimental long-term impacts on the wellbeing of the person. Lets remind ourselves that being a caring person, making others smile, being respectful and honest, being supportive and considerate, investing in your physical and mentally health should all take priority over any exam result. Traits don't have to be measured, but they need to be at the forefront of our success strategy as students, as educators, and as parents. THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS ARE NOT MEASURED AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE.

6. EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY: Exam results don't define you, they just enable you to take a more direct route to a degree of your choice that demands a certain amount of points. If that doesn't work out there is always a different alternative. Maybe college isn't for you, maybe you need to you defer for a year or two, maybe you want to travel and explore the world before deciding your next step, or maybe you still need time to figure things out and mature as a person, to grow and to learn about yourself. Maybe you need to experience the working world before you decide the direction you want to take after school, or maybe you are suited to going into an apprenticeship. We need to remove the stigma that everyone needs a degree, because they don't. In fact, a lot of people who complete a degree chose to take a different career path when finished. Remember, we are all different. What is important is that you gain clarity over the importance of finding who and what makes you happiest. Do the things you love most, surrounded by the people who allow you to be true to who you are and you won't go far wrong. Life is for living and creating memories. Everything will be okay as long as you stay true to who you are, and what you love.


Take home messages:

(i) Remember that your traits and characteristics define your potential in life not the points you receive

(ii) If the Leaving Certificate went well for you then celebrate the success and move on to the next stage of your journey. If not, then take time to reflect on what supports you need to help figure out your next step.

(iii) Don't follow social norms. Find what you love, and then find a way to make a living out of it.

If you need any help or advice head over to IG @thetimecoach and send me a message. I'll be more than happy to help in any way I can.

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