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Help your child to prioritize for BIGs (big important goals)

I work with motivated students, and I know one of the biggest challenges for busy students is finding time to fit it all in.

But here’s the hard truth: you can’t fit it all in.

Sometimes we want to do more than we have time for. We need to make the most important things a priority, and then fit in other, less important, stuff -- if we can and want to. This is the “Put first things first" concept.

The best explanation I’ve found for teens on this concept is in Sean Covey book “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”. In Habit 3 of that book, he explains the concept of putting first things first, and the power of will and won’t power. Covey talks not only about making time for what we should do, but also how to say no to the things we shouldn’t do. This is a highly underrated skill!

Covey discusses how we can gain an overall perspective of where we are now, and where they want to go, and ask ourselves what we really want. What are our big important goals?

He calls those big goals our "big rocks", I call them your BIGs (Big Important Goals). If one of those big goals is paying less for university by winning a scholarship, then that’s an example of a BIG. Other examples of BIGs might be getting accepted to your program of choice at a particular university, making a provincial sports team, or achieving your Grade 10 Royal Conservatory Certificate.

BIGs are goals that take time and effort over a period of time; they require persistence, consistency and discipline. They are also the things that give us something amazing: a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It's the BIGs that give our lives meaning and help us to grow and become our best selves.

The idea is to put those BIGs first. When we’re planning our week, our month and year, we need to put our BIG in our schedule first before other, less important things.

Now, be warned: this sounds like a really easy thing to do. But thinking it and actually doing it can often be completely different. We can easily get distracted from the big stuff and spend months, even years, doing other less important stuff instead of working towards our BIGs. Parents: Our teen can struggle with these big important goals because they don't have the experience and perspective we do, or the skills to determine their goals and create a plan to reach those goals. They may need our help. I suggest you get this book and read it, then pass it along to your child to read. If you're a student who struggles with prioritization, and you want to work towards your BIGs, I suggest you pick up a copy of Covey’s book. You can get it at most libraries for free, or it’s less than $20 at most stores/online. Chapter 3 alone is worth far more than $20.

If scholarships are a priority for you, this book can help you put your thoughts into action so when you walk across the stage at graduation, you’ll have achieved your BIGs and you can enjoy the wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

I hope you find it useful!

Want to learn more about how I can help you win scholarships? Please visit my services page.

About the author

Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

You can find her online at, and on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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