I am JJ: See success first

Awesome photo by Briana Tozour

Awesome photo by Briana Tozour

During one of my Food Allergy Talk w/ Mom & Dad podcasts, my parents shared their philosophy of how they would approach important events of my life.

Take the start of the school year, for example. They didn't start by thinking about the first day of school... but about the last day of school. 

They started with the end first. 

"At the end of this year — on that very last day — what would we consider to have been a successful school year?" my dad said. "If we walked into your classroom on the last day, would we see you smiling and laughing with a group of friends or sitting alone in the corner? What would a successful school year look like?"

Then, they'd work back and develop a plan to get there.

I thought about their advice a lot this weekend. I never realized it, but it was a guiding principle in how they raised me. And it's something they always asked.

"What will success look like?"

"What will success look like?"

"What will success look like?'

This advice transcends preparing for school. It's good for anything related to the food allergy, whether your child is attending a family dinner with cousins, a day at the mall with grandma or a friend's birthday party at the bowling alley.

"If we walk into that bowling party at the end, what will we see that will show us you're having a successful event?"

Know your goals. See success first.

The goals have to be realistic, of course. Sometimes success is simply safely navigating the experience. Sometimes it's getting something major out of it. Success may look different for different reasons for different kids on different days. And that's OK. 

Just like using a GPS. Destination first. Then figure out how you want to get there.


JJ Vulopas is a senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com and follow him @thelandofcan on Twitter and Instagram.