If you only had 6 months to influence the life of a young person how would that change your approach? Recently, I took a look at one of our programs and saw that many of our youth became disengaged or dis-enrolled at the 6-month mark. We have a few different situations that led to this, but it raised this question: what would you do differently if you knew you only had 6 months to influence the life of a young person? Here is how our program began to shift our focus:
Urgency – our approach to meeting the needs of youth became to generate a sense of urgency. Instead of thinking that we could put off making connections or working on goals for awhile, we began to lessen the timeframe that we would expect these things to occur to say we could accomplish them within 6 months. This generated a sense of urgency, which in turn created momentum as we began to see progress made towards youth goals.
Focus – we began to prioritize to what was important to youth. We crushed low hanging fruit early on and had youth identify 2 or 3 main goals to work on. This helped us focus our work and the time on what was wildy important for the youth. This let to better engagement and even lengthen the average time we had youth in our program.
Connections – once we realized we wouldn’t be in the lives of youth forever we saw that we had a limited window to help create lasting connections to other caring adults, schools and the community. We began to make more connections to local non-profits, mentor groups, and peer organizations to help youth make connections within their communities that would outlast our own connections.
This was a great way for our program to re-evaluate how we approach our youth and helped us to focus on what was wildly important during the first 6 months. If you’re feeling stuck in your youth program, create a limitation and think through it. If you only had so much time, so many resources or so many connections how would it change what you do? This might be the creative process you need to help you get over any slumps that your program might be feeling.