Habits

As I sit in my car waiting for my son to finish his guitar lesson, I have time to think about all of the things I have on my to-do list and a few more that I need to add.

Some days it feels like all I do is change the date* at the top of the list and rarely cross out a task to show it has been completed. In fact, it’s more likely that I will add tasks to my already overwhelmed list of things to do than take any away.

It’s a funny thing that when I leave work at the end of the day I have every intention of tackling my ever growing to-do list. Yet, my resolve starts to wither and fade right around 6:00.

And, yet the next day, I repeat the same scenario.

The definition of insanity is: doing the same thing and getting the same results? Well, some days, that would be me.

It’s so hard to build new habits, but so easy to focus on the bad habits, and even easier to dismantle them. Whatever it is that holds me back from creating new habits and behaviors is what I need to figure out so that I can replace the unproductive, joyless habits with better ones.**

Fear of failure is high on the list, of course. But so is fear of success.

I know there is no quick fix. I know slow and steady is the way to go, but sometimes I feel stuck.

I feel stuck with my ever growing to-do list and lack of progress on self-designed projects that are important to me.

I feel stuck with my writing. Although I journal, make multiple lists, write lesson plans. It’s not enough for me. I want to extend my writing into other areas.

Believe me, I’ve read all the books, blog posts and tweets, and still I’m stuck.

Which makes me wonder about my students.

How often do they feel stuck in my classroom?

How many times have I been able to guide them to a more productive state of mind? Being stuck is all about the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.

My stories are far from affirming or flattering.

It’s essential to change the narrative. To use affirmative or aspirational language, but also to do the hard work of creating with grace.

And, again, I wonder how often I use affirmative, strength-based language with my students. Teaching them to be patient with themselves. To not compare themselves with the kid in the next row. To nurture perseverance – that stick-to-it attitude that is part of a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race mentality. To not give up at the first sign of struggle.

How can I model this for them?

How can I support them on this journey?

How can I restart my own journey and stay the course?

*I no longer write the date at the top of the list.

**I’m currently reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza, and what he says is really resonating with me as I write this blog post.

Cross posted on The Two Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge.

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