Do you love your life? Only on special occasions? You are not alone. Many people count the days to their retirement even when it’s years away, and it’s not a healthy way to live. When we are not seeing the positives in our life, we are easily stressed. In addition, our negative perspective affects how we see events and people. Studies have proven our mental and physical heath are affected by our emotions.
Mindset is powerful. You know that from your experiences with students, teachers and administrators. We discuss it in SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) and possibly in Professional Development groups you belong to. A negative mindset hampers your Emotional Intelligence.
In a post about the central tenants of his book, The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment, Marshall Goldsmith offers this 5-step approach to re-examining your life and coming to love it:
- Align your aspirations, ambitions, and actions—Just as you have a Vision for your library, you need one for your life. Why are you doing all this? Why are you working so hard? Goldsmith says to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. What is your big goal? In a way, this is like your Mission statement. Follow that up with ideas and plans of how to get there. In essence, you are creating a strategic plan to have the life you really want. Goldsmith cautions against basing success on the quantity of your achievements. That leads to the overwork many of us are prone to – and the exhaustion that accompanies it. Hustle culture doesn’t work. Focus instead on the doing rather than the totality (the end result) –relishing the learning that is part of the journey.
- Eat the Marshmallow – Referring to the experiment where children were asked to decide if they want one marshmallow now or wait until later and get two, Goldsmith asks what if you are asked to delay further for three? How much gratification should you delay? Waiting for an ultimate reward can suck the joy out of everyday accomplishments. Delight can and should be incorporated into your every day. You don’t need to wait until you earn it because of some big event. Use the good dishes. Buy the thing you want so much.
- The “New Me” Paradigm—We need to remove the “when” from our life view. Deciding that happiness will come only when a certain event or achievement is reached keeps you from enjoying the now. Goldsmith notes that there is no correlation between achievement and happiness. You don’t need to be better, thinner, more financially secure, or any other version of a “better” you to embrace being happy now.
- Credibility Must Be Earned Twice – I have never seen the idea put this way before, but it is vital for school librarians to recognize. According to Goldsmith, for people to trust you, you have to be competent at what you do, and you are. But that isn’t enough. Your work must also be recognized. And that is where we sometimes miss the mark–and miss out on happiness. The lack of recognition for our work is a big factor in not loving our lives. The answer is to market yourself so that what you’re doing is noticed by your core audience. If that feels too hard, start by promoting your program. As Goldsmith says, “If good work really spoke for itself, no company would need a marketing function.”
- The LPR – This is your Life Plan Review, a daily reflection of how you are doing. Goldsmith did it with a group, but you can do it alone. I keep a Success Journal near where I work to track my daily accomplishments so I can see what I’ve done in a day, rather than only focus on what still needs to be done. If you’re only looking forward, you cannot take joy in what is happening now.
You have so much in your life that is good and so much you’ve accomplished. True, there are challenges and problems, but if you look closely, you can see how much is right with your world. Take time to see all the good choices you’ve made, the wonderful people in your life, the opportunities you have. Start loving the life you live–or keep waiting for more marshmallows.