“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. “
– Proverbs 15:22 ESV
A mentor, by definition, is an experienced and trusted advisor. I was fortunate enough to have some great experience in a variety of different classrooms before I left to teach on my own. Even though I had some great mentors in those buildings, when I started my new job it was completely different. I had always student-taught in elementary buildings and here I was teaching special education at the middle school level. Not only that, I was new to the community because I drove halfway across the country with a U-Haul trailer to Colorado to begin my career.
Even though I had a lot of great professors and experiences up to that point, I needed some help. I didn’t have money, family, friends, a home church, or any experience at the middle school level. I think a lot of college graduates and especially teachers might feel this way when they start out in their careers. There is a lot to figure out once you move out and start your career. This does not mean that you have to do this alone. I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of great mentors, including my parents, along the way who have provided that experience to advise me toward good decisions and to stay away from stupid ones. If you are just starting out or looking to reach some new goals, a mentor can be that person to help guide your path and keep you accountable. They have walked down this road before and can let you know how to navigate the waters of education, personal finance, getting involved in a church, or how to begin a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few areas where mentors can help lead you on the path to success:
Especially when starting a new career, it is important to get set up with someone who has been doing that job for a long time and is willing to help you out. Many times, schools or companies might assign a mentor to a new hire, but the mentor does not have the patience or is not always available when you need them. Look for these qualities when choosing a mentor to help you jumpstart your career:
- Experience– How long have they been their profession? What grade levels have they taught? Are they where you would like to be in 10 years?
- Good Listener– Sometimes you just need to vent to someone about the rough day you are having. You need someone that will listen to your concerns and questions and lead you in the right direction with your students and parents.
- Gives Constructive Feedback– They don’t tell you what you want to hear, they tell you what you need to hear. This will help us sharpen our skills and become better at our craft.
- Available- Mentors should be available for us to observe them so we can see their work in action. I always love going into other classrooms to see how others are teaching similar lessons and how I could improve. Mentors have been at it a long time so you can see how they manage all of the workloads as well.
The two men in the picture above, Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan, don’t know it yet, but they are mentors of mine. After I read Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, about three years ago I have been hooked. His Baby Steps are clear and simple and have helped thousands of Americans get out of debt and stay allergic to debt for the rest of their lives. Chris Hogan, the author of two #1 Bestsellers, Everyday Millionaires, and Retire Inspired, made me think more about not just about getting out of debt, but how to build a legacy that can be passed on to my grandchildren someday. As they say, “You wouldn’t want to go to a mechanic to have them look at your hurt knee, so why would you try to handle your retirement on your own?” If you are just starting out in your careers or even thinking about retirement, you should consider looking to get help from a financial advisor. Dave and Chris recommend using SmartVester pros in your area to help lead you to where you want to be in retirement. Here are some things to look for in an advisor according to Dave and Chris:
- Heart of a Teacher– Will the advisor be willing to teach you about the ins and outs of investing options out there.
- They Respect You– Does the advisor give you information and guide you to make informed decisions, or are they all about making all the choices for you?
- Experience– How much experience do they have with investing? You want someone that has been through the ups and downs of market volatility and understands the market well enough to help you out.
- Education– Where did they go to school? Are they also a certified financial planner?
- Availability– Chances are if you are just starting out, your retirement account is not overflowing. Are they willing to make time to help you learn about investing even though you may not have a large portfolio?
These folks are invested in your spiritual health, keep you accountable, and help encourage and challenge you to be the best person you can be. This could be one person or even a small group. My wife and I attend a small group at our church for young families and working professionals. We are able to share with each other what is going well, what we struggle with, and of course, share some great food together! These folks in our small group help to keep us on track and accountable for goals we are setting for ourselves. A mentor or a small group at your church can be a great way to meet new people, give back to the community, and dig deeper into God’s Word and His plan for our lives. Some things to consider when choosing a mentor or a small group:
- Do their beliefs compliment and challenge your own?
- Do they show humility– Can they talk about their own faults and lessons that have learned in their past?
- Integrity– Is this person or a small group doing good for those around them and the community?
- Practice what they preach– Do the mentor(s) live out in their own lives what they are trying to help you work though?
- Common Interests– Do the members of your small group or mentor share common interests with you?
Health and Wellness Mentors
When I think of health and wellness mentors, I immediately think of personal trainers. This could certainly be the case for you, but it does not necessarily have to be. It could be people in your circle of influence that will help you support your goals and getting back to a healthy lifestyle. They understand your goals and will encourage you along the way. These mentors could also be support groups for people with addictions. Some great characteristics of health and wellness mentors are:
- Encouraging- They call or text you to see how that new exercise plan is working out. They check-in frequently to bring words of encouragement when following through seems difficult
- Experienced– If I go to the gym (which I haven’t in a while), and I wanted to try a new workout plan, I would seek an experienced and trained professional who has a license in personal training. I don’t want to walk out of there with 15 pulled muscles and a trip to the doctor the next day!
- Honest- They give you the information and tell you what you need to hear to be successful. This does not always jive with what we want to hear.
- Expectations and Communication– These go hand in hand because you want your mentor to understand your expectations to reach your goals, but you also have to listen to their expectations on how they can help you get there.
- Personality– Sticking with the personal trainer example, if you don’t like to be yelled at to keep doing more pushups, etc., then make that clear when you interview and work with someone that will compliment your personality.
I have set some goals for myself this year, and some of those goals include the desire and need for a mentor. Without someone with more experience or an expert in their field, I might not be able to reach my personal goals. Start today by assembling your dream team to help you reach those goals you are setting this year!