Over the next weeks, the school year will begin again. Much as we love our jobs, it’s not easy to step back into work as responsibilities and tasks, old and new, fill our to-do lists. Time management skills notwithstanding, it’s a challenge to slow down and focus on what needs to come first. What is the priority? What is urgent? 

The old slogan, “haste makes waste,” is a reminder that if we go too fast, we will skip things and miss what really needs to be done. But knowing this and doing something about it is difficult when people are coming to you, sending emails, and demanding your immediate help.

In Inner Peace — Be Cool, Calm, and Collected, Frank Sonnenberg offers fifteen guideposts to calm your swirling brain. To help you find a little focus and calm try any one or more of these:

Accept Responsibility – In our frustration, we sometimes blame others for what is going wrong. Sonnenberg reminds us to recognize our part in making the choices we did.

Find Your Purpose–Look to your Mission and core values. Post them where you can see them. Review them as you start your workday and connect to the positive feelings they bring to you.

Live with Honor You are a leader. Integrity is an integral component of that leadership. People need to count on you. You keep your word and don’t compromise the core values you hold.

Be Reasonable–This is with yourself. Perfection is an illusion. Excellence is the goal–but know when good is enough. Not every task requires the same level of effort. Save your time and energy for what really matters.

Develop Trusting Relationships–Our relationships support us, and we need to support them. Reaching out and helping brings people to us. Our integrity keeps them. We build advocates and extra hands when needed.

Make Everyone a Winner–Putting others in the spotlight and giving meaningful compliments makes people feel good. The practice makes us feel good as well. Definitely a win-win habit.

Be Thankful – Gratitude for what you have rather than longing for what you don’t gives you a better outlook on life. This translates into how you present yourself to others. They are then more likely to respond positively to you.

Strive for Balance – Sonnenberg reminds us the journey is as important as the goal. Those you meet along the way, the time you give them, are as important as meeting the deadline you set. Make the time for family and friends. And make the time for yourself.

Learn to Say “No” – Set boundaries for yourself. You can’t do everything. The fuller your plate, the less likely that important stuff gets all the attention it needs. In dealing with teachers, try “what if we….” By offering an alternative that requires less of your time, you will do a better job and stay calmer.

Live in the Moment–Whenever you can, don’t worry about past mistakes or potential future failure. You can’t change the past (although you can learn from it). You don’t know what the future will bring, so worrying about it is a waste of energy.

Unclutter Your World–This is an extension of living in the moment. We have so many conversations with ourselves during the day. Too many of them are negative. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

Control What You Can–You can’t control others’ behavior or what life throws at you. You can control how you respond and act. And the choices you make are what define who you are.

Be True to Yourself–This includes living with honor. It also means seeing who you truly are and celebrating you. You earned it. Be proud of what you achieve and how you achieved it.

Build Good Karma– Doing good is no guarantee of good karma, but, as Sonnenberg says, “seeing others’ happiness is, by itself, a worthy reward.”

Hold Your Head Up High–Be proud of yourself. You are a good person. When you start by believing in yourself, others will follow.

Don’t try to do everything on this list! You’ve got enough to do. Choose the ones that speak to you, keep them in mind and to help you stay calm as the new year gets underway.

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