I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I either go overboard and make up 7 and can’t remember half of them by January 6th, or I choose one, like go to the gym every day, and then feel a sense of dread, pain and guilt every time I don’t meet my goal.
Well, this year I’ve decided to do something different. I found this great book over the holidays called “Eat Pretty Every Day- 365 Daily Affirmations.”
It has an affirmation for every day which I have been reading before bed each night to help you look and feel beautiful. It has tips on staying healthy, skin care, beauty, and helping you lead a happier life. What I love most of about this book is that it is organized by seasons, so you don’t necessarily start on the first page of the book, but rather which day of the current season you’re on.
On the 10th day of winter (New Year’s Day), the daily affirmation was, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, pick a word that will be an overarching goal of what you want to achieve this year. It could be relaxation if you felt the previous year was very stressful, or happiness, if you want to be sure to pay particular attention to what is and is not making you happy this year. Use this word as your guide throughout the year when you are attempting to make a difficult decision, or if you have a free day and can’t decide how to fill it. Keep this word somewhere that you’ll see on a regular basis as a constant reminder of your goal.
My word for 2018 is balance. I am halfway through my 4th year of teaching and have come to some pretty difficult realizations. I have allowed my job to consume my life. For the past four years, I have stayed at school into the late hours, bringing papers home to grade, doing lesson plans until 8 or 9pm, answering messages from students while cooking dinner with my husband. I have sacrificed so much time, happiness, dinner dates, and quality time with friends and family. I allowed myself to believe my students’ education was more important than my own happiness. I would then be painfully disappointed and really take it personally when my students didn’t put forth the same time, effort, and energy that I was putting in for them. For the majority of my students, the sacrifices were worth it, but were they necessary? I love what I do, I love my kids, and I know there is a balance that needs to be found in there somewhere, and 2018 will be the year I work towards finding it.
Because I have come to realize that I deserve it. I have an amazing husband, incredible friends, a wonderful family and I should not be letting anything in the way of that. For so long I felt a pang of guilt when I would receive a message from a student during the late hours of the night with a homework question and thought I can answer that later, let me enjoy this wonderful evening with my husband. But, in the back of my mind, I would be distracted, thinking how should I respond to her? or I want to solve that problem right now so I can help him get to the next step, or become upset if I received a ridiculous message about grades. At which point, I just respond since I’m not 100% present anymore anyways. 2018 is the year I shut down post school stress once and for all. From now on, the only way I’ll check my email after hours is if I absolutely have to or want to but definitely not while I am enjoying myself with my friends, family, and most importantly, my husband.
For 4 years, I would watch teachers leave the building right when the bell rang and thought wow I wish I could leave now, I just have so much work to do. How’d they do it? Well this is my year! I’m going to be that teacher who finds the right balance between 8:15am and 3:45pm so that I can leave on time and leave my work at school. Because if there is something I have learned from experienced teachers it is that there are more important things to life than my job. I have definitely lost sight of this concept. For so long I have believed how can the life of one person (mine) be more important than the 100 that I teach?
You see, when you spend 3-5 hours per week with your students, you start to build a real connection with them. Their successes are yours, and likewise, their struggles are yours. So much so that you start to believe theirs supersede your own. I would do anything for my students, but I must learn to balance how I feel about their trials and triumphs with my own. I can’t stop feeling for them, but I can’t continue to believe they are always the same or greater than my own. Certainly not after 3:45pm. I know it will be tough, because even more difficult than not taking papers home from work is not taking home emotions.
With all consuming jobs, like teaching, it’s difficult to create the separation between life and work, but it needs to be done. For so long I have been putting my students first, but it’s time I put myself first. I’m sure there’s a balance there, and this year will be the first step towards my journey to finding it.