Here are my six steps for stressful times:
They are what help me when I max out!
1 - Find the Magic 5
When I have a list of more than 20 things, I take out a highlighter and highlight the FIVE most important things. FIVE. Not ten, not six... five! Then, when I begin work, I start on the first one. After I complete it, I do the next one. And then the next. If I finish all 5 , I highlight five more.
This keeps things manageable and gives me a sense of accomplishment! Otherwise, I drown and do nothing! Break it down!
2 - The "Wind Down" Window
When I have trouble leaving work at work or ending my workday (what teacher doesn't grade in front of the TV), this is what I do. I set a time to "get off work." It may be eight or it may be nine pm. But, I look at the time I need to go to bed and I try to back it up at least an hour. Otherwise, I end up having pity parties because I feel like I work until sun up to sundown.
There is a story that changed my life. It goes something like this:
A man was having trouble working too much, and then something changed. When a man asked the busy executive what it was, the executive asked him to meet him in his office about 6:30 the next evening.
When the man came to meet the executive, the executive said, "Now, let me show you my end of day routine." He walked over to a one day at a time calendar and tore off the top sheet. He walked over to the trash can slowly. Paused for a moment with his eyes closed. Threw it in the trash. Flipped off the light and walked out the door.
The man say, "Wait a minute. What did you do there at that trash can."
The executive said, "I just stood at the trash can and said, 'Lord, this has been a good day. Thank you for this day. I got some things done that I wanted to do and some things I didn't get done, but it was a good day just the same. I have enjoyed this day and I appreciate it. Now this day is over and I ask that you help me tomorrow and be with me tonight as I live my life. I trust you to handle the things I didn't do until I get back tomorrow. Amen.'"
(This came from either Dale Carnegie or Norman Vincent Peale - I have read so much of their stuff it runs together.)
There is only so much you can do in a day! Do what you can and then walk away! You aren't made to run 24/7. Without your rest you will be unable to use your time well tomorrow. Give yourself a moment to breathe so you can move on!
3 - Remember the richness of relationships
You could offer me the world, but I'd rather look into the eyes of my children or husband. They are my wealth. Never trade what is transitory for what is eternal.
Sometimes being there is more important than being somebody!
If you are a parent, you are the one person who can do your job. No one else can or will love your child as much as you. It is your job to keep your children on a routine, love them, nourish them, and be their advocate and ears.
Prioritize what is important! No one can love those kids, that invalid parent, or those in your intimate circle like you. What would happen if you surprised your kids with cookies tomorrow or bought a special outfit for some snuggle time with your spouse? (I knew that would get your attention!) You become rich!
4 - Encourage others.
When I am most down and hungering for encouragement, I find that I get an instant mood boost by finding something that another person does well and praising it. Honest praise is rare in this world.
I love finding things that others do well and praising them for it. Every good teacher I know does the same.
5 - Keep perspective in failure
We all have setbacks. "Life" without an "F" is "lie." (Yes, I made that up!) We all fail sometimes because we're human! If we never failed, we'd be perfect and that's not possible!
But God doesn't make "F" people. I tell my students that their grades do not determine who they are. Every person on this planet is made by God and is an "A" in his sight. God doesn't make F's.
So, we all have an "F" sometime or another.
However, failure is not in falling, failure is in not getting up.
6 - Remember what beauty is.
This is especially for the women. As we grow older, we will allow ourselves to "disappear" if we value ourselves based on beauty. In a world gone awry that emphasizes so much the importance of appearance, I have a different take on beauty.
I teach this formula to girls:
actions + attitude + appearance = beauty
Do you know a woman who grows more beautiful with age? We all know them. It is the quiet inner peace of a well lived life that exudes a beauty that botox cannot emulate.
I'm not going to let anyone tell me what I have to buy or do or be or think to be beautiful! I take good care of myself, I am kind to others, and I am not snobby or boastful. I will not let Hollywood define my beauty!
I am beautiful because God made me and if I'm good enough for Him, I'm good enough for me! Enough of that size six, gotta have designer handbag stuff! Teachers don't make enough for that anyway. Going down that pathway is surely the path to discontent and I reject it!
Yes, I wouldn't be caught dead without makeup and I like to look nice. But I don't have too look like a desperate housewife to be desperately happy! I like myself just fine and I'm not genetically altered or hermetically sealed! I'm just me!
As much as I love blogging about Web 2.0 and teaching, I have a desperate desire to encourage educators. It is time we encourage one another and help one another. Every child deserves a good education. Happy teachers are better teachers than those who are not.
Find joy in your career. For although many do not appreciate teachers, according to my own faith, the God I believe in sent his Son to earth.
And what did He ask others to call him?
I need no greater endorsement of my profession.