Being a school librarian is a demanding job. We love it – until we don’t. Too many added tasks. Too little appreciation. Fear of being eliminated. All these contribute to losing our passion for what I think is the greatest job in the world. Don’t let outside forces drain the love you have for being a librarian. When times get tough, having a limited view of our purpose can cause us to give up. You need to identify your “Why.” When you make this connection you’ll be able to tap into your passion and even bad days will go better.
I first learned about “Why” in Weight Watchers. Everyone joins to lose weight. That’s obvious. Some people have more specific or focused reasons such as wanting to lose weight for a special event such as a wedding. They achieve that limited goal being at or close to their desired weight for the event. Then what? They go back to their old ways of eating and the weight comes back with interest. Or they find a bigger Why and keep going.
When I first joined fourteen years ago, I wanted to look better in clothes and pictures. What’s kept me going all this time, my bigger Why, is my continuing good health and being able to enjoy the foods I like and not put on pounds. I don’t have to be perfect, and my Why keeps me on track.
So, when it comes to your work, what is your Why? It is not the same thing as your Mission. Your Mission is your purpose for being a librarian, but it’s not why you are doing it.
For example, here are two well-crafted Mission Statements:
- The mission of the Blank School Library is to provide students with the opportunity to become lifelong users of information and also creators of information. The library strengthens the curriculum by collaborating with teachers, developing a collection that is representative of the community, and implementing literacy instruction for students.
- The Mission of the Blank School Media Center Program is to create lifelong learners with critical thinking skills and an appreciation of literature by providing opportunities for all students to gain the self-confidence necessary to successfully learn in an information-rich world.
Is that Why you became a librarian or is that what you are committed to doing because of why you became a librarian? Why speaks to the purpose for your life.
My Why is tied to who I am as a person. I want to reflect back to people (students and teachers and everyone I connect with) the greatness I see in them and, when appropriate, help them manifest it in their lives so they see and believe it. I can carry out much of that in a library with either of those two Mission Statements – or many other equally good statements. But when overwhelmed or having administration block my ability to carry out my Mission Statement, rather than feeling hopeless, I can go to my Why.
In a post on Goalcast, Scarlett Erin says, “Your ‘Why’ Matters” and gives 10 benefits for knowing your purpose in life.
- It helps you stay focused: Just as your library Mission Statement does, this gives you a larger and more personal perspective on what really matters.
- It makes you feel passionate about your goal: It’s more than doing a great job; it’s about making a difference.
- It gives your life clarity: Knowledge is power. When you know yourself, it’s easy to make choices.
- It makes you feel gratified: When you see you made a difference, you automatically feel great.
- It helps you live a value-based life: You recognize and embrace the values that represent who you are.
- It makes you live with integrity: When you know who you are and what matters to you, you realize these are core values that can’t be compromised. You can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to requests more easily by staying aligned with your values.
- It encourages trust: Because you are confident with who you are, you are more open to others.
- It infuses an element of grace in your life: Your life is smoother, with fewer trips and stutters, because you act from a deeper place, aligned with what matters to you.
- It helps you find a flow in life: Fears are easier to manage because you trust yourself and accept whatever happens you can stay grounded and centered.
- It makes life even more fun: You are more likely to live in the moment and appreciate what is happening as it occurs.
During your break as you are taking time, I hope, to do the things you love and that fill you up (see last weeks blog on this), I hope you also take time to reflect and determine what your Why is. Having fun and being relaxed is the best time to connect with and be aware of the things that most matter to you.