I think I may have mentioned once or twice that this is my busy season. There are so many work things to do before the school year is over! And lots of fun events happening too. The wonderful thing is that just over the horizon of this busy season is my most restful season–summer! I am so grateful that not only do I get to do a job that I love, am passionate about and from which I feel overwhelming fulfillment, but I also get the summertime…to rest, to play and to recharge for another school year.
The little problem I’m having right now is that there is so much work to do, but I don’t really want to do very much of it. I’m pretty sure the kids don’t want to do all that much more work anymore either. With summer so close, it’s very hard to concentrate on work. I just want to make a list of a million and five summer fun things to do and then start doing them. But I can’t. I have a million and five work tasks that need to happen first. So today I thought I’d share a little trick I pull on myself when I have to do something I don’t want to do.
I play pretend. I fake it. Let’s say, for example, that I really don’t feel like teaching spelling. I might really want to be going for a walk or reading a book or even making a dent in the mountain of paperwork I have to do. But, I must continue to teach spelling, even if it is June. So I take a deep breath. And then maybe a few more. And then I pretend that I just LOVE spelling!! (In reality, I do love spelling, but not as much as my usual when it’s warm out and sunny and…June!) So I smile. I use my happiest teacher voice. I take my time. I don’t skip any of the parts or rush through the lesson. I pretend that I’m the teacher I always dreamed of being and then… usually, just a few minutes into this little act, something shifts and it’s not an act anymore. I get in my groove. I’m doing my thing and the thing I didn’t want to do is getting done and I am actually, genuinely, being the teacher I always dreamed of being.
I use this trick for all kinds of things. Often at school. In June. Did I mention June? When a kid drops his pencil box for the millionth time that day and all the contents splatter across the floor and I do not feel like cleaning up a hundred tiny bits of crayon. I take a deep breath (try not to let it sound like a sigh) and say, “I’ll help you.” Then, even though I didn’t feel like it, the mess is soon cleaned up and the child is happy to have had my help. Or when kids start arguing and maybe I’m pretty sure one of them is lying and another one starts crying and I don’t really feel like being a playground detective and conducting friendship therapy. I breathe deeply, and say, “I’ll help you.” I ask a few questions, try to smile with my eyes (not roll them) and soon, the truth is coming out, apologies are being offered and everyone is friends again.
Now, I don’t want this to sound like I don’t like my job and the things I have to do there, like teaching spelling and helping children. I like my job. I LOVE my job! I love my job genuinely and deeply. It’s just that some days… I don’t feel like it. Some Junes I REALLY don’t feel like it! And this little trick gives me a jump start when I need it. I imagine everyone has these days when they don’t feel like it, no matter what their profession, and even in our home lives. Don’t feel like washing the dishes? Pretend washing dishes is the best thing ever, then start doing it and next thing you know, they’re done. Don’t want to workout? Pretend working out is the most fun ever, then start doing it and soon it’s over. And usually having these types of things done, gives me an added little boost of happiness.
I tried really hard to find this quote/research about happiness that I read or saw somewhere. I thought maybe it was by Shawn Achor in his book called, “Before Happiness,” but I couldn’t find it. And I have too much to do to look anymore. So I’ll paraphrase as best I can, and if it wasn’t him who wrote this, I’m pretty sure somebody who’s very smart and does research did. Also, his book is a good read anyway, also his TedTalk. It makes sense to me so…what someone said is, that we often think we act because of how we feel. Like, I have a case of the blahs, so I can’t go for a run. But in reality, it more often goes in the reverse order, we actually feel because of how we act. So I go for a run, and then I don’t feel so blah. What do you think? I think it works for me…when I remember to do it.
Only 6 more school days until summer vacation! I’m gonna pretend I can do it!