Monday, September 2, 2013

5 Point Plan for a Great Day

cc flickr photo azjd
Let's be honest.  Some days we just don't feel like we have it.  We might be tired, stressed, overwhelmed -- simply not ready to face what the day (or week) has to bring.  It is easy to submit to those feelings, and chances are, things will go exactly as you expected (as Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -- you're right.").  Even if you love your work, it is human nature to have days like this -- for some of us, more often than others.

So, here's a "five point plan," that won't necessarily be easy to implement, but if done with fidelity, should leave you feeling good about what you have accomplished -- regardless of what actually gets done.

  1. No Whining - go an entire day without complaining. This one is going to take deliberate effort.  Truth be told, I shudder to think how many times I complain about something during a given day.  Start out by vowing not to verbally, or outwardly, complain -- then, if you're up for the challenge, get control of your mental whining. 
  2. Less Me, More Others - think a lot less about your personal problems and struggles, and a lot more about how you can help others with their challenges.  This might include friends, family members, students, or colleagues.  Make it a point to do something that brightens the day for someone else, and see if you don't benefit from the reflection.
  3. Slow Down - mentally, and physically.  As difficult as it is, try not to multi-task, but instead give all of your effort and energy to one thing at a time.  This is especially important when you work with people.  Make sure that you give those with whom you interact, your undivided attention.  Take breaks.  Take a breath.  Smile.
  4. Identify Your Big Rocks - be sure to focus on what is important (which is not necessarily the same as what is urgent).  As Goethe said; "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least."  I need to be constantly reminded of this -- living that quote is one of my biggest personal challenges.   
  5. Be Thankful - let's face it, most of us have many reasons to be thankful.  Our health, our families, our jobs, our friends -- and the list could go on.  When I think about many of the students I work with, it is a wonder that they walk in our front gates at all.  Some face challenges and circumstances that would make many adults (myself included) wither.  Consider what you have to be thankful for, and refer to point #2.

Following the steps in this action plan is much more challenging than writing about them.  Even though I don't claim to have come anywhere near mastering this process, I do know that my best days happen when I am mindful of these five things.

Have a great week!


  1. This 5-point plan is simple to follow. Hopefully many will. If so, everybody will have a great day. Thanks for reminding us what we all need to do.

  2. Hey Pal,

    Just a quick note to let you know that I needed this today. I struggle more and more with finding the silver lining simply because our profession -- particularly here in North Carolina -- has been under attack for so long. It leaves me exhausted and frustrated -- and that affects who I am as both a teacher and a person.

    The one thing I do to remind myself that I still love teaching is go downstairs to say goodbye to the kids at the end of most days. Standing by the door gives me the chance to see everyone -- my current students and my former students all at the same time.

    They never tire of seeing me. Their smiles are a reminder that I do good work. It's the best five minutes of my day every single day.

    Rock right on,