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Prioritization and Specialization- "Having it all" is a myth.

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Try This At Home……..

Gather together as many balls as you can find. Tell your child that the balls are like the activities and responsibilities in their life. Hand them two or three balls. Explain that, like the balls, when they only have two or three activities and responsibilities to focus on, they can keep them all under control and do very well at them. Then keep handing them more and more balls until they start dropping them. Explain that, just like the balls, the more activities and responsibilities they take on, the more things get left undone or done poorly. Too many balls lead to mediocrity.


I was freed from most of my unrealistic expectations the day that I realized that the expression, “You can have it all”, was a myth. I realized that I can only keep so many balls in the air at one time and if I get over zealous my whole world comes crashing down.

Our resources are scarce. There are only so many hours in a day and we only have so much time, energy and money. You can focus on doing a few things very well and allow some other things to lag behind. Or you can try to do everything, and the odds are that none of it will be done extremely well. You’ve heard the expression, Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of None. For example, you may be able to have a career and be the kind of mother or father you want to be, but that probably means that you aren’t making it to the gym three days a week anymore and you need to hire someone to help clean the house. Something’s gotta give!

Teaching your children to prioritize their activities and responsibilities at a young age is important. It will help them to be successful in the things that matter most. If they have too many activities and responsibilities they get spread too thin and aren’t able to excel at any of them. When kids are young they should try all sorts of activities: different sports, instruments, arts, etc. Exposing them to as many things as possible gives them a higher probability of finding their “perfect fit”, their passion. That doesn’t mean they have to have an activity every night of the week, but they also shouldn’t have to just pick one sport or activity and be stuck in it. Having said that, even young kids need to understand that something’s are more important than others and that they will be good at what they practice. The best way to teach them responsibility and specialization is to make it a habit when they are young. They need to finish their homework, study for their test, practice their instrument, go to soccer practice and/or set the table, before they play video games or watch TV. Sit down with them and have them help you make a list of priorities. (This leads into the topic of making sacrifices, but we’ll save that for another post.)

Once your child finds their passion, specializing in it will bring them more success and with success comes confidence, which is always a good thing. Specialization will also help them hone other skills, like time management, discipline, work ethic and goal setting.

If your child wants to be really good at something, then they need to make it a priority. It doesn’t mean that they have to give up everything else, but some of the less important things are going to get less attention. Something’s gotta give.

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