I have started numerous drafts of various articles since I published my last formal post, but I always seem to stop halfway through and ask myself: Is this meaningful? In my professional world, the answer is usually "yes", but in terms of my own development and reflection, probably not.
A significant influence on my decision to start blogging was because I do my best 'thinking' in writing, which often translates into intentional reflection. Championed by my partner and supervisor, I created this blog in hopes of finding an outlet that blended my personal and professional thoughts, ideas, and questions about the world around me. Lately, I have found that most of my drafts are just about work - how to use an online training system, how to use CATs, or how to map curriculum. While I'm sure that content may be appealing to some people, the posts have become more about sharing knowledge than they have about my experience as an educator and learner. I have started numerous drafts of various articles since I published my last formal post, but I always seem to stop halfway through and ask myself: Is this meaningful? In my professional world, the answer is usually "yes", but in terms of my own development and reflection, probably not.
This morning while laying in bed and reading through Facebook (a morning ritual for me), I found the 10 Steps of Happiness on my news feed. For the first time in a while, I found something that I felt passionate about reflecting on. These 10 steps are not just ideas to live your life by, but they have so much transferability to our work lives, regardless of the field one is in. Especially when thinking about the realm of higher education, it can be so easy to get caught up in being "busy" and focus on challenges, rather than appreciation, creativity, and taking risks. I know that as an educator, leader, partner, friend, daughter, colleague (and hopeful future parent), I need to do a better job of integrating these into my life. In thinking more about this concept, I have made it a goal to focus on one step for each of the next 10 months. I will do my best to document my climb!
Until the middle of April, I am going to start on step 10: Complain less, appreciate more. Over the past couple of days, I have really thought about what my next steps look like in terms of a career. Finishing up the last course in my Career and Academic Advising program has really pushed me to think about the questions I would ask and the ways I would help someone else in my current situation. As well, being on a career development placement in another office has made me really appreciate where I work and what I do in the field of higher education. I am confident that the decision to temporarily leave my permanent role has provided me with an incredible amount of perspective and has made me realize that I was at a place in my professional life where I was no longer feeling challenged. In turn, I felt unhappy and discouraged. Since leaving, I have learned a lot about myself and my purpose. I am so appreciative of the skills and experiences that I have gained through this job change, and I can confidently say that no amount of professional development or conference attendance will match the experiential learning that has occurred over the past month. I am incredibly excited to continue to learn over the next 8 months as well, because each day I gain new skills, perspectives and collaborative opportunities. However, this process has also taught me that I am passionate about student learning outside of the classroom even more than I ever thought I was (which if you know me well, was still a lot). It has affirmed that my love of co-curricular learning is what I am passionate about and where my purpose lies. It has only reinforced for me that I am an educator. This journey has really taught me the power and value of trying new things, gaining new perspective, learning to work with different colleagues, and finding yourself.
Today, the first post in our #RyersonSA series was published. Carleton's Director of Housing and Residence Life Services shared her story on the importance of higher education being a space that invokes reflection and spirituality to help our students find purpose and meaning in their life. When I think about spirituality and my own purpose, I can confidently say that this new role has allowed me to explore that and ask myself if my work is purposeful. Especially at a time in my career where I was starting to feel like work was becoming somewhat redundant and I missed feeling challenged, trying a different position has been such a welcomed and rewarding experience. While it has cemented for me that Student Affairs is my home, the opportunities to learn, grow and network have been worthwhile and very impactful in ways that I am thinking about the future. This experience has also been crucial in encouraging me to set boundaries and find a true understanding of what work/life balance looks like in my life. Thinking ahead to the future as well, I know that I want to have a family and hopefully pursue a Doctorate of Education soon, so taking this time to learn how to balance and set priorities for myself will be incredibly helpful when I return to Residence Life. Based on how much has changed for me in only a month, I would highly recommend that everyone take a step outside of their comfort zone to try something new - whether it reaffirms your passion for your job like it has mine, or it opens your mind to a whole other realm of possibility, it is worth taking a step away and gaining perspective. Even small things like being managed by someone else, having to learn about your new colleagues and developing new working relationships, and using different muscles than usual contribute to an incredibly rewarding and educational experience.
As I reflect on the notion of complaining less and appreciating more, it truly is the foundation of happiness. Before you can move forward, you need to be in a mindset where you are appreciative of the people, experiences and opportunities that are presented to you every day. Sometimes I take this for granted, and need to remind myself to focus more on the positive; not get bogged down with the tasks and workload. But on days like today when I take a few minutes to reflect, think, and share, I find myself feeling more fulfilled, thankful, and purposeful. After all, it is not enough to spend all our time on helping our students have purposeful experiences. It is important that we make the time for ourselves to have them as well.
What does "complain less, and appreciate more" mean to you?
A creative educator striving to enhance the holistic student experience and committed to exploring personal fulfillment.