Youth Work on AutoPilot

Thinking can feel like a luxury.

In times when we’re deep in the work we do and the ways we get it done, it can be nearly impossible to take care of ourselves. We are so busy meeting the needs of the kids, filling out forms for our bosses, or writing up the report for our funders that thinking can feel like a luxury.

As a result, we go on autopilot. Day in and out, we punch the clock and get the job done, struggle through challenges and hustle through fun. We get off work, head to our next job or go home and crash, only to do it all over again tomorrow.

Maybe you’re bobbing your head right now, or maybe you’re thinking that people need to get their acts right. Either way, reality is that thinking can feel like a luxury in youth work.

After spending 10 years in the field as a line-level youth worker, I started training people like me and working with organization leaders to help them think about how to more effectively do their work. That has led me to action, over and over, focused on helping people who work with young people do their jobs more effectively.

If you were in a workshop with me right now, I’d walk you through the following steps, or something like them.

Step One: Claim Your Brain

Today, right now, I want you to give yourself a minute to think. If you wanna do it on your own, maybe just sit in your seat and chill for a few minutes on purpose. Try it now. If you want some guidance, maybe think about these three questions:

  • Why do you do the work you do right now?
  • What would you rather be doing?
  • How can you get from here and now to there?

Step Two: Discover Some Options

Want a few more? Here are some tools I created that you can think through:

Step Three: Do Things Differently

Once you’ve gone through those tools, or if you skip those and want to just do something different, here are some resources I’ve created for you:

Looking for more still? Keep your eyes open and you’ll see more action, information, and ideas coming soon!

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Published by Adam F.C. Fletcher

I'm a speaker and writer who researches, writes and shares about youth, education, and history. Learn more about me at

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