09/26/2012 02:45 EDT | Updated 11/25/2012 05:12 EST

The Slacker's Guide To Success -- Step Ten: From Crud to Cred

businessman climbs the mountain....

2012-08-17-KenRabowSGTS.jpg This is the tenth installment of The Slacker's Guide To Success, based on my work with teens, young adults and their families. The introduction can be found here. The other chapters are available here.

From Crud to Cred; Creating new generative structures

So here you are, taking another stab at "making it" in life. Your parents are cautiously optimistic.You are non-committal. Your dog still thinks you're amazing (but he likes Yanni). It should go well. You're older. You've had a few "challenges" under you belt and you've survived. You're not on the street or in a cult or both. Then why so nervous?

Well, there is the unpleasant memory of the last time you went out into the "real world" and it so didn't "work." Like if "work" was the bag you had used to pick up crud, your experience would be the stuff that stays on the ground where the crud was. (Not a good place unless you are a crud-worm).

Now you have done all this personal growth. You've:

a) learned to create a daily program of positive things to do

b) set limits on the time stealers in your life

c) Goals and ways to reach those goals were tried and tested

d) Built up a lot more faith in yourself then ever before...but, some part of you knows what has happened before when you get tested out in the real world and it won't care about "progress" once you are out there. It's going to convince you that you really need to start a Babylon V retrospective the night before you begin your new classes or job. It may tell you that being late is fashionable or any number of things that will get you to give up before you have given yourself a good shot at it.

I'm here to tell you that if you got this far and you are willing to give it another try for yourself ... not for anyone else, you can do it! Simply follow these steps:

10 Steps to Help Change Your Life From Crud to Cred(ability)

1) Create a daily schedule of things you do for you:

a) meditation

b) walking (electronics-free)

c) something creative

2) Write down all the regular appointments you have

a) going to work/class

b) meetings

3) Set up your study times.

4) Figure out a good sleep schedule:

a) when to start getting ready for sleep

b) when you want to be asleep (roughly)

c) when you need to wake up

d) how much time you need before you are ready to get going

5) Don't promise what you won't do.

Sometimes it seems so much easier when your parents are nervous about you succeeding to humour them just to get them off your case. This does help short-term but ruins all your credibility long-term. If they are on your case too often, choose a quiet time to listen to their concerns, say back to them what you heard in your own words and tell them what you are willing to do. Let them know that when they give you space, it helps you feel they believe in you and if they do give you the space, try to remember to show some appreciation.

6) Give more than what you are asked for.

One parent recently told me his son is a minimalist. If he needs a 75, he gets a 75. If you want the front lawn mowed and there are some scraggly bushes on the side, if they weren't part of the bargain, they stay scraggly. Give more than you are asked for and you are putting positive will in your bank to be cashed in on a later date. The same goes for school.

7) Avoid negative slang.

So many young people use derogatory words about other groups of people to

say that things are odd or messed up. If you are using hurtful words, you never know who you might unintentionally be hurting.

8) Say "Yes!"

It's so much easier to opt out of things and there is definitely a case for being taken advantage of but when it is reasonable and only takes a little extra time, offer your services to someone who asks.

9) Embrace appreciation.

Notice the good things people do and let them know about it.

10) Embrace criticism.

Not yours of them. Theirs of you. Useful criticism can help you look at parts of yourself that you might not have noticed but always consider the source.

So how do these things help you change your life from sucking to not?

By focusing on the very best of you. That way, whether people notice or don't notice, you will know and that is all you need to change how you feel.

Life is inevitable, sucking is optional.

For Ken's free newsletter click here. For a podcast of this article click here. Graphics by Nick Robinson