A couple of days ago I woke up a little earlier than usual, and had to figure out what to do with my extra time. At the time, my sister was staying with us so I decided to walk her dog. I was all excited; I had woken up early, I would get a little fresh air, get some exercise in, help my sister out, and still have time to come back and cross some other things off my to-do list as well.
Well, Nash (the furry friend in this story,) had a mind of his own. He stopped at every lawn, took a sniff, and rolled around. Every flower we walked past needed to be thoroughly investigated. This dog wanted to check out everything, and everyone. A stop-and-go walk wasn’t really what I had in mind. For the first part of the walk, I was pretty annoyed. My free time was slowly slipping away, and what had looked like a very productive morning was now turning into me pulling a dog along on a lease.
However, as we carried out, I started to look at Nash. Every time he checked out a new spot and left, he had the biggest smile on his face. As I saw the joy in him, I started to soften. It reminded me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “it’s not about the Destination, it’s about the Journey.”
So many times in education, we have a set plan. We want to get to the destination or end goal in a set process, and when things go awry, we get frustrated. In a world where everything is changing constantly, it’s only natural for humans to cling to control. Control is that element that makes people feel like they are stable, so when we tend to stray off that path, the outcome may seem scary.
One thing that I have found helpful is a strategy from Rhett Power, co-founder of Courageous Leadership. His strategy to value the journey over the destination consists of the following 8 tips:
- Show Gratitude – Not just for Thanksgiving! Many people, including myself, find value in writing down what we’re grateful for at the end of the day to leave it on a positive, if not reflective note. (I’m terrible at journaling, so I use the 5-Minute Gratitude Journal, found on Amazon.)
- Be Committed – A favorite verse of mine is “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” Rather than over committing yourself and giving 70% to each task, really focus on what will bring the most value to your life and those around you, and commit fully to those things.
- Cherish your Friends – Cherish your friends. And tell them that you cherish them too! Maybe even journal about them in your gratitude journal 🙂
- Keep on Learning – This doesn’t always have to be in the form of a Masters or Doctorate degree. It can be as simple as reading a new fun fact each day, or even signing up for a free online course! Right now, I am taking a free course from Yale University titled ‘The Science of Well-Being.’ Explore many free classes from traditional academic material to health, wellness, and more.
- Don’t Multitask – This was a hard concept for me to get behind. I love trying to check off as many boxes on my to-do list as possible, so this seemed foreign to me. I think the takeaway from this is not to never multitask, but to take breaks from it. As I’ve written about in a previous blog, allowing yourself time to rest is vital in having better reflections and invigorating creativity.
- Balance your Life – Much like a balanced diet is beneficial for your physical health, a balanced life is beneficial to your mental life. Within the last year and a half, we have all had to navigate the work-life balance through remote working and I think a silver lining to take away from this time is that people were able to learn the importance of work-life balance.
- Make Family First – Whoever your ‘family’ may be in your life, put them ahead of everything else. Take time to go on a walk, catch up over the phone, or even something simple as accompanying them to the grocery store. You will never regret spending more time with your loved ones.
- Take time to travel – Placing yourself in a different environment is such a valuable tool in order to enjoy the present moment. Whether it’s planning a weekend getaway or even just visiting the next town over and spending time in an unfamiliar place, being in a physically different location than normal can bring great perspective.
Next time you’re feeling frustrated about not getting to where you want quickly enough, try doing these 8 steps in your head to ground yourself, reset, and enjoy the present.
Molly McQueeny – Communications/Website Coordinator