As an educator my years have come to be measured from August to May. I have to say, this past year has been a very long and tiring one. Regular readers of my blog are aware of the ups and downs and ins and outs of that statement. Not that it has been one without joy, laughter and memories well worth keeping – it has; but, it has also had some challenges that have tired me out.
So, it is my “off” season – which all academics will tell you is a complete misnomer, but let’s go with it for sake of discussion. This is the time of year when we rest, recharge and ostensibly “catch up” with our runaway lives. At least that is what the plan is. It never quite goes that way though. This summer I want to figure out why that is – why it is that I cannot “catch up” given a good couple of months of dedicated time to do so.
Not that I don’t know some of the answers already…I do. I know that the tendency is to push all the things that I cannot get to throughout the year into the summer which leaves me with a summer “to do” list that is completely unappealing. I also know that the effect of that list is me searching for CAB activities (CAB as in – classic avoidance behavior – my highest level skill set). I actively seek out mindless projects and vacations and social engagements – anything other than what is on the “to do” list. The “to do” list becomes the “to avoid” list.
Well, the effect of this behavior is I barrel into the next academic year with nothing “to-done” and my stress level then increases exponentially when I chastise myself for letting the whole summer pass me by without catching up. That sets the tone for the year – already behind and now pushing things into the next summer. It is a vicious cycle my friends.
But this summer I want to think differently about the “off” season. This summer I want to break the vicious cycle that I am immersed in and accomplish two things: 1) actually use the summer to catch up; and, 2) ensure that I plan my next school year in a way that does not result in a summer “to-do” list for 2012.
Now, that does not sound too difficult does it? The problem is that I already have a good eight weeks of CAB already built into my summer with trips, projects and social engagements. I am so seasoned at this vicious cycle that I actually began my 2011 summer CAB planning in the fall of 2010 (what can I say – I am an overachiever). But I am committing to my overall well-being and mental health here today and with that I am going to find balance year-round.
Balance…I have talked about it again and again in my blog and I have had fleeting periods where I thought I had mastered it, but history reflects that I have not. Frankly folks, I am getting too old now to be constantly “stressed for success” – I want to find my happy medium between success and relaxation. The balance I believe is in re-framing the way I view both the summer and the school year. Neither should be 100% on or 100% off…both should be a balance of on and off. It is kind of like the 12 month pay plan that we have the option to take at the university (as opposed to our nine month pay plan) – equal increments across the year makes it easier to plan and budget.
So my summer plan is exactly that…get on the 12 month work plan. This means building in summer vacation mode into each month year-round, but also means building in work to my year-round framework. I will do this because without this balance I can never fully enjoy work or vacation mode.
One of my favorite notions of perspective comes from Dr. Wayne Dyer who urges us to change the way we look at things as by doing so the things we look at will change. I am changing the way I look at things in order to accomplish balance.
Now, I am off to get some work done before I go off to my annual Hi Ed frolic tomorrow…I am off to create the balance that I seek.
Day six hundred and ninety-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da