After growing up under their parents’ roof for almost two decades, many young adults can’t wait to move on and move out but are struggling to do so successfully. Failure to launch is becoming a more common phenomenon for many people stuck in between high school and finding a career that works for them. Many unmotivated young adults struggle with this transition because of mental health issues and do not have the skills to get back on track for happiness and success

Standing on the Edge of Adulthood

Launching into adulthood can feel like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down at a steep waterfall with jagged rocks below.  The most common problems for unmotivated young adults are: failing out of college, falling into a vicious cycle of bad habits, refusing to find or keep a job, lacking the desire to leave home, and little if any future planning. They may have high ambitions—as doctors, lawyers, accountants, business executive—but they are not taking any steps toward achieving their goals. While they might have realistic goals, setting short-term goals can be difficult if their inner dialogue tells them you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, you will never go anywhere, you should just give up.

JD Salinger captured this fear of falling off the cliff into adulthood unprepared through his character Holden Caulfield, who claims, “I’d like to be the catcher in the rye…I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff. I mean, if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going, I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.” Many young adults feel like they are running around aimlessly hoping for things to fall into place. While some wish they could just be pushed headfirst into adulthood, without a bridge between the two worlds, they are likely to fall on their faces.

Catching Young Adults Before They Lose Motivation

Criticism Doesn’t Work. While they may be unable to follow through with concrete goals, most of the time they are aware that their situation is not ideal and do not need someone else to remind them. Criticism may add to their feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem.

Meet them where they’re at. They may judge external motivators as putting too much pressure on them. Parents’ well wishes may feel like unrealistically high expectations. Internal motivation comes from putting their perspective first. Ask What do you want to do? Where do you think you could start? What do you think is getting in the way? What are you scared of? How can I help?

Self-Determinism is Key. Many young adults that move back home struggle with feeling dependent on their parents. While it can be a supportive environment, it can also enable staying for a longer period of time or feel suffocating as they want to make their own rules that may be incompatible with their parents’ expectations. There is a difference between being completely independent and being able to make individual goals based on personal values. Self-determinism involves figuring out what your needs are and then taking steps to meet them on your own, knowing when to reach out for help.

Find purpose. Most young adults don’t know what they want to do and will switch career plans multiple times before they settle. Community service can help people learn through experience and prepare them for future careers. It teaches volunteers how to work with others and to build confidence in their own abilities. It gives students a platform to explore their personal values and strengths and set goals for the future.  

Choose adventure. Adventure therapy pushes students out of their comfort zones and encourages them to try new activities that improve their teamwork and problem-solving abilities. Through fun activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, yoga and more, students explore how their fears, passions, and dreams have been getting in the way of them choosing their own adventures. These activities have been proved to lower levels of stress and build self-esteem, which motivate students to move forward with their lives.


blueFire PulsaR offers co-ed adventure-based wilderness therapy for young adults 18-28.  Our students struggle with finding motivation to launch into adulthood due to emotional and behavioral challenges, including anxiety, depression, motivation, trauma, and substance abuse. At blueFire PulsaR, we strive to help each student discover their inner spark that fuels their personal growth and sense of adventure. We focus on independent living skills that help students find what direction they want to take next.

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