Lessons and Activities

5 Critical Lessons Last Year Taught Me

Every year is full of lessons learned and wisdom gained. I’m always reflective at the end of a year about what I learned that can inform my upcoming year. Last year there were five distinct lessons learned that will play a major part in how I approach this year and years to come. I think every teacher can benefit so I figured it was only right to share

1. Your personal goals should mean just as much as the work goals that you strive towards for your school.

I’m a firm believer that you should work hard in order to advance your job’s mission and vision and accomplish the shared goals that drive your time at work. I am also a huge advocate of encouraging teachers (and every professional) to work equally hard, if not harder for your own personal goals! In fact, I want to go as far as saying that working solely on your work goals and neglecting to have your own personal goals are a sure way to reach a state of burnout and experience dwindling overall satisfaction. Way too often people work all day for someone else’s goals and visions then come home and fail to work equally hard to work on their own. Let me say this loud and clear. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing yourself and using your gifts and talents to set and slay goals for yourself! So now that we are clear on that, here’s my question to you. What are you prioritizing for YOU and your own aspirations this year?

2. Your inner critic is a liar.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized I have an inner critic that stalks me from time to time. I call her Critical Kara. This stalker wouldn’t speak to me constantly but would whisper in my ear at all the right times. When facing a new opportunity she would try to whisper words of fear, doubt, and disbelief in my own potential. She would be so much harder on me than was necessary. She was pretty relentless too, but not as relentless as the overcomer I also found inside of me! I learned to silence her and use her to motivate me. Once I realized she was a thing, I also realized that many other people also have this same inner stalker! It surprised me because I found this to be true for people who I would have never thought. I’m willing to bet that you reading this, has an inner critic as well. Well guess what… Your inner critic is also a liar! Do yourself a favor this year. STOP believing the lies and start silencing that critic! That critic’s job is to stop you from achieving greatness but let me remind you, you’re unstoppable my friend!

3. There’s so much untapped potential in all of us.

What if told you that there is so much more in store for you and that you are capable of so many more amazing things. Would you believe it or would you doubt it and think, “Yeah right…She can’t be talking about me.” Whether you believe it or not, doesn’t negate the fact that it’s true! You have things inside of you that you don’t even realize yet. The realization is that for most people, that untapped potential never gets realized or maximized because our comfort zone holds it hostage. Would you do me a favor this year and be one of the ones who breaks past this barrier of comfort and fights to see the best version of you and what you have to offer the world?

4. You can handle whatever comes your way.

Life inside and outside the classroom will throw you a curveball, a fastball, and a screwball all in the same week. If you’ve taught for more than a semester and lived longer than 20 years, you know this. But even when we have those times where it’s chaos or something unexpected takes us off guard, we ALWAYS get through it. One of my favorite responses I tell myself when I am reflecting on a hurdle I crossed is – But did you die? Now I know that is a bit dramatic but posing this question to myself puts things into perspective for me. It also serves as an effective reminder when I am approaching a new hurdle. I’ve learned to empower myself and declare, YOU GOT THIS! I know it might sound weird but why don’t you try it out. The next time life happens, whisper to yourself, “You got this!” When it’s all over assess yourself and say. “But did you die?!” 😉

5. Self-care IS NOT selfish. 

Self-care is actually a necessity to sustain yourself to do good (but hard) work, so you should never feel bad for engaging in it. Educators are much better at taking care of others than we are at taking care of ourselves but let’s change the narrative. The idea that we should practice self care isn’t new but how many of you are guilty of not prioritizing it? (Raises my own hand in guilt!) Let’s stop talking about it and commit to being about it. Self-care will look different for everyone but I challenge you to put together an ISCP and implement it – an individual self care plan! Here’s a few ideas that might get you started.
1. Fight for a work life balance.
2. Take your personal time even if you’re not sick.
3. Learn how to say no.
4. Make time for morning meditation.
5. Stop over committing yourself.
6. Find small mental vacations when you can’t find time for a real one.
7. Do things to occasionally treat yourself, no matter how small.
I’ll admit, self-care was one of the things that I struggled to consistently do. For years I usually put on the back burner so I could check off my overloaded to do lists and increase my productivity. No more. Gone are the days where I am not a priority. Although I doubt I’ll be perfect in implementing this, I’m certain I’ll continue to see progress and get better with time. Will you join me? I hope so because the best you, that I know you want to be, depends on it! Let’s do this!
It is my hope that the same lessons that I learned last year can be as beneficial for you as they have been for me. As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Happy Putting You First!