Help your child to prioritize for big goals

One of the biggest challenges with busy students is finding time to fit it all in. But here’s the hard truth: we can’t fit it all in. We need to make the most important things a priority, and then fit in other, less important, stuff if we can (and if we want to). It’s the “put first things first" concept. One of the best explanations 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" really well, and in a way that our teen understands. He separates the book into Habits instead of chapters, and the name of the Habit/ chapter I'm referring to is “Put First Things First: Will and Won’t Power.” Covey talks not only about what teens should do, but also how and why to say "no" to the things they shouldn’t do. This is a highly underrated skill in adults, not just teens!

Covey discusses how teens can gain an overall perspective of where they are now, and where they want to go, and to ask themselves what they really want. What are their big goals?

He calls those big goals their "big rocks". If one of those big goals is winning a scholarship, then that’s an example of a big rock. Other examples of big rocks for high school students might be getting accepted to their program of choice at a particular university, making a certain sports team, or achieving a certain level in a Royal Conservatory Certificate. These are the goals that take time and effort over a period of time; they require persistence, consistency and discipline. They are also the things that give our child something amazing: a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It's the big rocks that give our lives meaning, and help us to progress and become our best selves. The idea is to put those big rocks first. When we’re planning our week, month, and year, we need to put our big rocks first before other, less important things. Now, this sounds really easy and simple to do, but thinking it and actually doing it can often be completely different, especially for our teenager. (Even we adults can get distracted from the big stuff and spend months, even years, down in those day-to-day weeds instead of working towards our big life goals.) Our teen can struggle more with these big goals because they're young, and they don't have the perspective we do, or the skills to determine their goals and create a plan to reach those goals. They may need our help. If your child struggles with prioritization, 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. Read it first yourself, and then pass it along to your child. Habit/chapter 3 alone is worth more than $20. If scholarships is a priority with your child, this book can help them to put their thoughts into action so when they walk across the stage at graduation, they'll have achieved their big goal and can enjoy the wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

I hope you find it useful!

Learn more about Janet MacDonald by visiting the About Page.

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