Kayah on steps at Oxford

Our teen on the steps of Oxford University. She had been on campus less than 24 hours and looked so happy! BHAG achieved.

BHAG’s – ever heard of that acronym before? If not, let me share.

Backstory: BHAG is a term I was introduced to by my homeschool-mentor-guru, Julie Bogart. I believe it originally was coined in the business world, but it stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  Awhile back, Julie did a talk on her top ten must do’s when raising teens and BHAG’s were one of her recommendations. She shared that every teen should be given the opportunity to tackle one before they graduate from high school.

BHAG’s are exactly what they stand for…big, ginormous, difficult, bold goals.  They usually start with the words, “hey mom, I was thinking…” They are going to sound CRAZY when they share them with you! Your mind is immediately going to scream “danger, danger…” Your brain is going to immediately turn into a calculator adding up the costs! But, if they are sincere, if they are for real, if this is something they really really want to do…say “YES!”

Some of your friends and family are going to think you’re crazy or insane for spending the amount of money or time necessary to dedicate to helping your teen achieve their BHAG, but do it anyway! I promise, it is completely worth it! Regardless of the outcome of their efforts,  the experience of chasing a BHAG is where their grit and ability to follow through on a dream will emerge.

A young adult supported through a dream will more likely continue to chase passions and have the courage to say “yes” to new opportunities as an adult.

Find a way to fund it. Find a way to make it happen. And by find a way, I mean help your TEEN find a way, NOT YOU.

No matter what – at least once in high school try to give your child this opportunity. No matter how gifted you are as a parent or teacher, you could never recreate the learning or experiences they will gain when accepting the challenge of a BHAG.

So, what is going on in the Takei house that I wanted to share? Our oldest is in England, studying at Oxford Summer Courses and is having the time of her life! This was her BHAG and she is doing it right now! While she off on her adventure, I have had some time to reflect on the process of getting her there and thought I would share some of the things we have learned along the way!

Quinn, Kayah and Me

Kayah, our teen – she’s the one in the middle just in case you couldn’t tell the night of her Bon Voyage Party 😉

So without further ado…

Top Ten Takeaways from supporting a Teen achieving a BHAG!

  1.  Let your teen discover their BHAG. Encourage exploration of areas they want to experience or explore, but don’t find their BHAG for them. They must own it from the start. It has to be something big, bold that they want to achieve – big time! Our oldest, Kayah age 15, googled and researched, applied and was accepted into the Oxford program completely without our knowing. We found out AFTER THE FACT. No kidding. Praise, support and encourage any initiative, interest or any action taken seriously by your teen.

    Kayah 1st text from Oxford

    Our first text. Less than 24 hours and our teen says, “I don’t want to leave!!!”

  2. Listen with an open heart. Do not immediately say no or dismiss their idea! Avoid the temptation to naysay  because it is too expensive, too far away, too scary, too crazy of an idea. There will always be a way! Enlist your teen to make it happen. Kayah had a part-time job, worked extra small jobs and was able to secure  her deposit on her own. She created a Go Fund Me page and as a part of her campaign, she committed to providing community service based on dollar amounts to every single contributor. This was not just an awesome way for her to raise funds for her dream, but a hands-on way to reinforce one of our core family values of community service. Our teen has and continues to be involved with many acts of service and connection within our community as a result of her BHAG. I couldn’t have planned the things she is donating her time on right now!

    Screenshot of plane landing in England

    Just imagining our teen flying without us (internationally) made this momma break out in a cold sweat.  But, she did it!

  3. Partner your teen! Kayah did not do this completely on her own. She needed some reminding, refocusing and direction at times. She needed rides, feedback and encouragement. Hold your teen accountable to their dreams and be a solid partner. Praise and applaud your teen – let them know they got it! Emphasize your pride in their efforts, not the outcome.

    Welcome to Oxford Welcome Packet

    Dreams come true.

  4. Document the journey. Help your teen find a medium they enjoy and document their story. Kayah used a closed FaceBook group called “One Step Closer to Oxford,” to share her story and when this experience is completed, she will have a beautiful online electronic scrapbook of her entire experience.

    Quinn, Kayah, Kira and Miko at airport to England

    Sending off our teen at the airport.

  5. Celebrate! Take time to recognize and celebrate the small and big achievements along the road to achieving their BHAG. Recognizing that it takes work and lots of little steps to achieve Big Dreams. Letting your teen experience  first-hand is the best way to learn! The night before Kayah left for England (she is there right now!) we had a Bon Voyage gathering. It was a tremendous opportunity to surround her with friends, love and positive energy and recognized what SHE achieved. She glowed.

    Kayah Bon Voyage Pic

    Picture from our teen’s Bon Voyage gathering the night before she flew across the pond.

  6. Empower your child. Once they are actually doing their BHAG, just let them be! Let them own it start to finish. At the time of writing this blog Kayah has been on her adventure for only two days and I can see and hear how much she has changed-already. She looks different and she is lit-up. She doing it alone. Teens need to know they ‘got it.’ They need opportunities to fly solo and know they can trust themselves. For our teens to learn how to dream, follow-through and make their dreams manifest is a parental gift. This experience will help them spread their wings and trust that they can repeat the process as adults. A process, we as adults could sometimes use a little more courage in doing ourselves!

    Kayah dorm room

    Her new home.

  7. Grow their worldview. To expand your child’s worldview, they must bump up against other worldviews! Nothing will increase your teen’s ability to understand other points of view then immersing themselves in different countries, cultures or experiences away from home. Within 24 hours of arriving in England, Kayah has already developed a circle of friends from Romania, Saudia Arabia, Australia and many other countries.

    Screenshot of Kayah and new friends

    Our teen’s friends from around the world! Awesomeness.

  8. Nurture Gratitude. Teaching a teen gratitude is completely different than a teen experiencing gratitude. Taking your teen out of their comfort zone (their house, bed, air conditioning, sleeping with mosquito netting, having to secure clean drinking water, walking everywhere, not understanding the language spoken, getting lost, etc.) is one powerful way that may help them appreciate those things when they return home. Just the simple fact you have allowed them to tackle a BHAG will require the help and assistance of many. They will learn first-hand how to be grateful to others.
  9. Trust the process & LET IT HAPPEN. This is my favorite mantra in all things. Once your teen embarks on the experience they have created, get out of the way and let it be – good or bad – it is theirs. Let it unfold as it will, without judgement or opinion and let them have their experience. Let them learn. Let them grow. Even if they hate it, or have a horrible time, there is still immense value in the experience for them to build upon.
  10. Unpack the experience. We are still weeks away from Kayah’s return from abroad. We are planning on spending some time just letting her come off her unpack literally, mentally and emotionally. I am not sure who will come home…I can see changes and I am curious who will walk through our front door. I imagine there may be a little readjustment required by the entire family. After some time, we are going to support her as she creates a presentation of some sort for family and friends to share her experience. We will pair it with a nice dinner and really allow her to wrap up her experience full-circle with the people that helped her make her wishes come true!

    Wishes fulfilled

    crazysexy love notes by kris carr & artwork by lori portka

I leave with a quote on adventure from one of my favorite travelers of the Earth, John Muir…“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.” 

Until we chat again, Rock on, living.