Last week was finals and Commencement where I teach, which signaled the commencement of my summer break.
My husband loves to tease me about how I live my life by the academic year instead of the calendar year. For me, who has been a student and/or teacher virtually every year of my life, the fall signals my fresh start more so than January 1st does.
And before the fall comes the summer.
This academic year has been a roller coaster on both personal and professional fronts, and the last few weeks have been particularly challenging for my mindset. To be fair, the ups have been plentiful, but they’ve also brought into focus some challenges and growth areas that I need to address. Balance is a key one of these areas.
I’ve stood upon the pillar of “work-life balance” since I began at this institution. I’ve made time to do my work, and to play. I’ve even managed to inspire a couple of colleagues to streamline their obligations and re-balance their priorities, to say “no” to some opportunities so they can say “yes” to others.
I believe in being transparent. If I’m going to preach about having balance and forging new paths, I have to be honest in both my strengths and challenges, too. I owe myself and anyone else reading this that much.
Here’s the confession: I’ve been stuck in autopilot in the past few months.
I realize that this is part of what’s made me feel so uneasy and tired lately. I’ve been wrapped up in the busy, the administrivia, the grading of final papers and scoring of final classroom evaluations, the routine moves of the graduation exercises, the squeezing in of a few road miles here or there. I haven’t given myself the space to clarify my own goals, and to ensure that my daily to-dos are appropriately aligned.
I’m fortunate in that I have a built-in opportunity to do exactly this, and refocus my attention. I’ve reduced my travel load, obligations, and time away from home as much for the next three months as I can so that I can just be, think, and plan. Self-indulgent as it may be, I want to start the 2016-17 year strong, and as ME. The best version of me. The model that I want to project to my spouse, students, friends, and colleagues. Even though I’m two years deep into this new adventure and stage of my life, it’s not too late to shift direction. Here are the questions I will ponder this summer:
I’m eager to dig deeper into these ideas over the next three months. What are the areas of growth you’re reflecting on right now?