Goals, Burnout, Mindfulness, and Of Course, Resources

Blog Post Image in pink with a stressed man photo in background. Text says Life work balance. Burnout, mindfulness, goals, and resources.



It's almost the end of January. How are your New Year's resolutions going for you? Perhaps you promised yourself that you would eat better, get fitter, spend less time on social media? Then you go to a conference for a week, eat all the no-good-for-you-foods, tweet every 30 seconds, and come February admit to yourself that January was more of a one-month free trial. #FETC #FETC2020 #Miami! {Yes, I may be referencing myself here}. Good news, it gets even better - this year we happen to have an extra day to disappoint ourselves due to Leap Year.

Okay, so enough with the negativity towards setting NYE resolutions. Setting realistic goals can help move us forward, and perhaps give us a sense of purpose. Some see this practice as a way to get out of the so-called comfort zone, so it's scary as hell. For others, instead, goals may be a way to measure their self worth. Whatever your reason, please remember that each goal you set is just a benchmark, a way to check in and be accountable for your own beliefs. I do want you to keep in mind that, while you are caught up in reaching your next milestone - getting more Twitter followers, Google Certifications, a published book, or finishing a degree - your ultimate goal should be to take care of yourself.
After having many wonderful conversations with brilliant individuals at the FETC conference, I reflected on my own personal journey, which prompted me to write this post about self-care.
Disclaimer: I am neither a medical professional, nor a self proclaimed expert in the field. However, I have lived through burnout and the fixation about what my next “Big Thing” would be. I nosedived, and hit rock bottom. The worst part? I was angry, tired, and kept making mistakes. I stopped dead in my tracks several times (this blog mainly taking the hit), and went back to my “Why”, only to feel unfulfilled.

Aside from professional pressures (driving many hours a day to assist multiple school districts... workload... I could go on, but you get it), I am a mom (aka, chauffeur) of three pre-teens/teenagers who all participate in some type of sports that require some sort of travelling. On top of that, I recently finished my second Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and I am currently debating going back to being called a doctor. I myself am active, participating in triathlons, marathons, or anything else that gets me to move. The bottom line is that we are all busy with our own issues, trying to have a good work-life balance. But where do we start from?

I started my own journey in self-care about two years ago, after a professional standstill and deciding to return to school, by centering myself - as they do in yoga practices. I started by asking myself “What do I need to focus on? What aligns with my 'Why'?” I simply began to weed out what doesn’t correlate to my said 'Why', and set yearly professional and personal goals with reasonable deadlines, so as to stay focused. To this day, I do constant check-ins with myself, and continue to screen the world to find and pick what actually matters to me and what doesn’t in my mission towards achieving a good life-work balance (no mistake here, it was an intentional flipped approach), and basically trying not to overwhelm myself.

Once the dust settled, and I decluttered my life (about a year and a half later), I noticed my next issue - being present. You know, living in the moment. Here and now, both physically and mentally. I think that it has always been an issue with me, but it did not become apparent until after I decluttered my life. I always just assumed it was because my to-do lists were intense games of Jenga. A few months ago, I attended a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) seminar geared towards educators/administrators and students, only to discover that I am the most unmindful person on the planet. I am never in the moment. Instead, I am always thinking about what I have to do next (no matter how long or short that list is).

Person in a black and white photo holding a book over face with a questions mark.Sit still? Breathe? Who are these people who manage to do that? Does any of this sound like you?

Someone once said to me: “I don’t know how you do it...Do you even sleep?”. Well, if I were to honestly answer right now, the short answer would be 'No'. No, I’m not even present at night when I should be sleeping. I mean, let me be a 100% real with you - I am writing this post while on my indoor bike trainer. Cooking dinner? Ah, but I need to check and answer that one last email first. Playing with my kids? And at the same time wondering about the third item on my to-do list. I am always thinking ahead!

My bigger question is: after we have filtered out what we have personally identified as “not so important” in our life, how can we intentionally be present when there are still so many demands we are faced with (whether we bring them on ourselves or not). I am still working through the motions of this answer, and attempting to retrain my brain. As I go down this journey, I would like to share with you some resources I have currently been researching.

First, a little Eric Clapton Unplugged if I may:
Getting Started with Mindfulness
22 Mindful Exercises, Techniques, and Activities for adults
7 Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers
Can Mindfulness Make Us Better Teachers
Dr. Richard Davidson on Teachers and Mindfulness- video

Next best thing to me wearing a shock collar and having a human press the button every time I am not in the moment, some apps for you:
Calm- paid. They once gave educators a free download!
Headspace- Freemium. I am currently giving this one a go!
Aura- How are you feeling today? (Freemium)

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