Life Lessons, Mindset, Self Growth, Self Reflection

Why I Am Successful

I haven’t thought about it much. I’ve just been doing and doing and doing. Now I’m starting to slow down and reflect – especially since it’s the holidays. This is part ‘why I am successful’ and part ‘my authentic self’. Both go hand in hand. To be one, I have to be the other.

Change is hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s utterly necessary to be successful. I used to be anxious. I used to be depressed. I used to have a lack of fulfillment in my life that I would often fill with alcohol and fake friends – people I didn’t even really like, but called them friends anyway just to have something. I changed all of that. I went from accepting the fact that depression was always going to be a part of my life to waving goodbye to it through a rearview mirror. I went from feeling anxious all the time – especially around other people – to just having stress here and there about major things. I went from fake friends and relationships to authentic ones. I went from unfulfillment to complete fulfillment.

Each change I made was uncomfortable. Each one was hard, and some were downright painful. But they were worth it. I went from a miserable career to one that brings me joy. I went from one terrible partner after another to the best partner anyone could ask for. I went from unhealthy relationships to healthy ones. I went from putting on a major facade all the time to being my authentic self.

I remember my therapist telling me that I was one of her favorite clients because after each session I would go and act on the things we talked about and I would come back with new barriers to tackle. I learned, I grew, I worked on myself, and I made painful realizations and worked hard to correct them. I read books, I had deep conversations with friends and coworkers, I did a lot of self-reflection, and I met with my therapist regularly.

Realizing I was co-dependent was painful. Facing the fact that my parents fucked up was even more so. I got angry, I laid blame, but ultimately I decided it was my responsibility to fix it because I’m the one that it affects. By the way, co-dependency is not what you think it is, and most people are a little bit co-dependent. As funny as it sounds, I highly recommend the book “Co-dependency for Dummies.” It really helped me learn what it is, what kind I was, and how to SET BOUNDARIES (something I never learned from my parents – but I’m not salty about it, I swear). Making decisions based on what I wanted and not what I thought others wanted was also part of it. Along with not taking on other people’s problems as my own. All of this was a major step towards me becoming more authentic. I stopped acting in a way that I thought would please those around me and just did what I wanted. I stopped feeling stressed and responsible when someone talked to me about their problems. I stopped saying things I thought others wanted to hear and said what was in my heart. I was becoming more and more my authentic self. I lost fake friends and gained real ones. And I met the love of my life.

Changing careers was scary. Telling my parents I was switching from engineering to teaching was uncomfortable. Telling my boss was even worse. I almost threw up I was so nervous. Changing jobs was part of becoming my authentic self. I didn’t like standing at a desk, reading specs, calling clients and vendors, and checking CAD drawings. I wanted to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I wanted to build a better community. I wasn’t doing either as an engineer. I have very high patience when it comes to helping others. I have very high patience when someone is learning something new. And I can explain things in different ways. I am caring and passionate and it just made sense for me to use my skills to be a teacher. So, I made the switch, and I have never looked back.

Moving is also uncomfortable and difficult, but new places always come with new opportunities. When I moved to Texas to be closer to my love, I got way better training and preparation for becoming a teacher than I could have dreamed of getting in Florida. It was like the pieces just fell into place.

My next thing to try is also scary and likely to be uncomfortable, if not downright painful the first few times I try it, but I am going to push through and do it anyway because I want to continue to be happy and successful. I am going to try a PBL (project based learning) in my chemistry class after the break. It is going to be very different than any other way I have taught before and has a lot of components. I took a training over the summer and have resources that I’m currently culling through, but ultimately I will not be successful at it if I don’t give it a try and actually DO it. I’ve put it off for an entire semester and that’s long enough. I’ve got to keep pushing myself into new, uncomfortable things because that is how I grow and learn and succeed.

What do you do to be successful? What is the most uncomfortable, yet ultimately rewarding situation you have pushed yourself through? Did you grow? What will you do next?

Please share your thoughts, stories, musings, or reflections. I love to read them.

Education, Motivation, Teaching

A Few Thoughts on Motivation

I’m currently reading about student motivation and how one of the things I should do is figure out what is “real” to them. What their reality looks like. I know many of my students last year had a part-time job because they either had to buy their own clothes and gas or they had to help pay the bills at home. I remember thinking that I couldn’t force them to learn something as pointless as chemistry when they had real-life problems to worry about. This is why it’s so important to me to teach things that matter. Teach skills that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I think chemistry and algebra and the other subjects are important, just not as important as helping provide for yourself or your family – especially when you’re planning a career as a mechanic or accountant or something that has nothing to do with chemistry.

I need for the things they learn to be relevant so that I have the motivation to teach it just as they have the motivation to learn it. That’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in project-based learning. And why I was so interested in the education chapter in the “Abundance” book discussing the fundamental things students need to learn to be successful. I want to feel like I am teaching my students skills that will stay with them, not facts that they will soon forget. I hate wasting time – mine or others’. I very much teaching concepts for the sake of teaching concepts. Students need to know how to apply what they learn in creative ways to solve problems.

While I do have academic standards that I have to teach, they can be a result of teaching more important skills. I can use PBL’s and similar type lessons to teacher collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Due to the nature of the projects, they will also learn specific chemistry concepts along the way. Since they learned these concepts as part of a bigger picture project, they should also be able to remember the concepts longer. The projects will also help with self-confidence, speaking in front of others, reading and writing, and research skills.

My ideal class would be me teaching every concept with a PBL, but I don’t see that as reality. Especially teaching two subjects in only my second year. I haven’t even honed my classroom management plan. But maybe. The reward would be great and surely I have the ability and resources to do this. At least with chemistry since I’m more familiar with the subject (it’s the only class I taught last year). And I have two great teachers on my chemistry team and two great math teachers on my algebra team. So maybe I can pull it off. I’m actually a bit doubtful, but I know that if I push on and pretend that I know I can do it, I’ll be a lot better off and have a better shot of doing it.

Either way, I have to make one by the end of the week. I’m in PBL training and that’s the end goal. I’ll go more into that later. This was supposed to be a short thoughts post. Oops.

What non-academic skills were you taught, or do you wish you were taught, in high school?

Teachers, do you ever feel unmotivated to teach your content because you feel it’s not important? What skills, lessons, or content would you be motivated to teach?