- To think better, we have to be willing to think differently. Consider the questions we ask ourselves. Perhaps rather than asking a question, make a statement. Be mindful of the language you use.
- Shift your mindset to be present every day. This changes your thinking so instead of thinking ahead, you can focus on now.
- 3 ways to get started on being present: (1) Carry a notebook to record short-term and long-term things to do. (2) Pay attention to the thoughts and language used. (3) Focus on what you do want to do and not on what you don’t want to do.
At the end of the school year, there is always that one question that begs to be answered: “To work or not to work?”
I hesitate to use the term summer break or even summer vacation. I think adding those words alters our appreciation for what summer can be for each of us. And that being, it gets to be whatever we desire it to be.
So often we define words with definitions that no longer serve us. We use words we’ve always used, even when we may desire a different outcome. A major factor in thinking better is that we have to be willing to think differently. For example, I used to call summer, “summer vacation.” However, I had a definition that vacation meant not working. Yes, I recognize these are arbitrary definitions, but for me, by using these words I was creating limiting beliefs that ultimately held me back.Focusing back on the present day allowed me to find joy, gratitude, and overall excitement for each and every day instead of only on some days. Click To Tweet
Something to Consider
What if instead of asking, “Will I work over summer?” which leads to a yes or no response, we use different language. What if instead of a question, we use a statement? Something like, “regardless of the task at hand, I take action when it feels aligned to me.” How different does that feel?
I’ve heard before that the quality of the questions we ask creates the quality of life we live, and I think this is key to creating memories and experiences that align with who we are and who we desire to be. So, let’s take it back to the original question so many educators ask themselves over summer…to work or not to work?
And it shouldn’t be any surprise to you, but my answer is… it depends. Before I share why that is, I want to share a mindset shift that once learned, has made all the difference for me.
The Mindset Shift That Changed It All
In the past, I was someone who was always looking ahead. Searching and looking for the next thing to do, to complete, to achieve. This was true in my professional life as well as my personal life. I spent every Monday through Friday waiting for Saturday and Sunday. Every week I found myself counting down until the next break. I worked September through June, looking forward to July and August. Anyone else see the off-balanced nature of these examples?
Over time, I realized that waiting for something exciting to happen meant I was missing out on the present day in front of me. Focusing back on the present day allowed me to find joy, gratitude, and overall excitement for each and every day instead of only on some days.
Being present each day can feel overwhelming at first. I know when I first started to make this shift from thinking ahead to focusing on now, it felt like I was learning a foreign language. I had to retrain my brain to focus on this moment instead of thinking ahead. And like everything else I’ve learned, I started with small, simple, and strategic steps. Thinking better, even over the summer, doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. It gets to be simple and easy.[scroll down to keep reading]
Here are three ways I got started on being present:
1. I started to carry a notebook around with me that had two columns on each page.
One column was designated for activities to be done in the short term (i.e. in the next few days) and the other column was ideas for the future (i.e. anything beyond those days). This helped for a couple of different reasons. The first being that once the idea or thought was written on paper, it freed up space in my mind to think about other things. The second reason is that by immediately categorizing it, my brain was able to let go of the thought of “I need to do this, this very second.” Lastly, it became a way for me to monitor my thoughts by seeing and reviewing the things I was writing down.
2. I paid attention to the thoughts and the language I was using.
For example, if I found myself saying, “I don’t want to work today,” instead of getting myself into Shouldville, I would ask myself a couple of follow-up questions. The first being, why don’t I want to work? I taught myself to look beyond the initial thought and get to the root of what was going on.
3. I learned to focus on what I did want to do.
So often, we get in this thinking loop of listing what we don’t want. But how often do we focus on what we do want? If I didn’t feel like working on the day, the question became, what do I want to focus on today? And if I’m being honest, this was often the hardest step for me. I can quickly tell you what I don’t want or like, but focusing on what I do want, now that took some practice. But after all, that’s what thinking better is all about…practice!
So whether the question is “to work or not to work” or something different, hopefully, this post gave you some new ways to understand the language we are using and how to think better, all year long!
About Lindsay Titus
Lindsay Titus is a K-12 Behavior Specialist with a license in behavior analyst. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Lindsay coaches and trains educators on the study of behavior and how to implement evidence based behavior principles in simple and easy ways! With experience as a classroom special education teacher, and behavior specialist in public schools, residential placement, and private settings, Lindsay enjoys working with all educators looking to reignite their passion for education, connect with all students, and conquer challenging behavior in any classroom setting.