To help prepare the next generation for an increasingly uncertain future through a focus on identity and purpose.


During a ten-year career in finance with Northwestern Mutual I perceived a generational need and realized a call to mentor young people. Uncertain of how to pursue this aim, I left my financial career to explore how to best fulfill this vision to help establish future generations.

First, I approached my Alma Mater, Virginia Tech, and they invited me to build a professional development course for graduate students. This was a for-credit beta version of Prepare a Future housed in the Graduate School. At this time I began studying human development and the transition from adolescence to adulthood. This is where I discovered the increasing importance of identity formation in advanced modern societies through the works of Erik Erikson and James Côté.¹ Observing our rapidly changing, technological society—on my own, and through the eyes of those I mentored—I began to foresee increasing challenges for future generations.

Wanting to professionally coach people, Northwestern Mutual called me back to mentor and develop their college intern teams. Before I knew it, I was the Managing Director of the office where I started as an intern myself. However, it became clear this was not the right vehicle to pursue my purpose . . . so I left again to pursue the call to prepare a future.

Drew Lichtenberger

Developmental Coach


  • 2010 Resolved a commitment to the original pursuit of mentoring and developing the next generation
  • 2011 Returned to the study of the academic literature in identity formation in young adulthood¹
  • 2011 Developed the Prepare a Future vision and content based on human development studies and my experience in mentoring hundreds of young adults
  • 2012 Led a handful of students through a six-month Prepare a Future mentoring process
  • 2012-13 Interviewed some of the world’s preeminent experts in developmental psychology and sociology
  • 2015 Continuing to build the Prepare a Future vision through mentoring, coaching, speaking, and writing
  • 2018 Prepare a Future Workbook available


In an earlier era, figuring out your strengths and weaknesses and how you fit into the world happened in the teen years. In contemporary society such “identity work” is happening later in life—or not at all. This is problematic because a strong sense of internal identity helps gives direction and guides someone throughout their entire life course.

Without a strong sense of internal identity and purpose people may have difficulty making commitments to education, career, and relationships. The challenge for young people to form a coherent identity is exacerbated by a chaotic, late-modern society we live in which is also in transition—just like the young person in transition themselves.

Additionally, there are very real external structural obstacles (e.g. economics) that also lock young people out from assuming adult roles and gaining financial independence. Coming of age is a more perilous path than in decades past and many get caught in the dizzying sea of distractions and hurdles along the way.


The primary “work” of young adulthood is individualization which is the life-course process of developing one’s self as an “individual” involving self-awareness in making life-altering decisions and choosing courses of action from a range of options in education, career, relationships, identity, and values.²

Individualization is not a process to leave to chance.

Based on cutting edge developmental theory, Prepare a Future℠ is designed to inspire someone to get on a developmental individualization track to lead a life of personal and professional growth.


[1] Prepare a Future is largely based on the scholarship of sociologist James E. Côté, PhDa preeminent scholar on identity formation during the prolonged transition to adulthood in late-modernity. He has developed the Identity Capital Model (ICM) based on the works of Erik Erikson to bridge the gap between identity theories in sociology and developmental psychology. Côté is the founding editor of Identity, An International Journal of Theory and Research and has authored books such as A Generation On Hold; Coming of Age In the Late Twentieth Century, and Arrested Adulthood; The Changing Nature of Maturity and Identity.

[2]  Côté, J. E. & Levine, C. G. (2002). Identity formation, agency, and culture: A social psychological synthesis. New York: Psychology Press. 

Côté, J. E. & Levine, C. G. (2016). Identity formation, youth, and development: A simplified approach. New York: Psychology Press.