Even though it is my last year as a teacher, this year has been hands down my best, most enjoyable year. I really think it is because I set a goal to stop trying so hard. I know it sounds like I’m being a slacker, but in reality I have been more productive and effective than ever. Guess its good to leave on an up year. I realize now, that when I initially found out about our move to Florida I started “trying too hard” again. I immediately started looking for another job, thought about a career change, and stressed over leaving our youngest so far away at college, among other things. I realize now that much of our situation is out of my control. Yes – I could fly out for interviews before we get settled, I could sign up to take that real estate class now, but all of that would just create extra, unnecessary anxiety. Instead, I need to focus on the immediate to do’s and take things one step at a time. Right now my two areas of focus are my son and the end of his senior year – graduation parties, prom, etc., and selling our current house. The next step will be downsizing and packing. Those are pretty big items. Here are some tips on how to stop “trying so hard” and go with the flow.
Focus on what you are gaining, instead of losing. I have tendency to catastrophize by imagining every possible bad outcome. In a way, this could manifest bad things to happen. We tend to experience what we expect to experience. Focusing on the negative will yield negative results because we are so focused on finding the negative stuff that we ignore or don’t notice the positive. When I notice that my thinking is sprinkled with negative words like “never” – as in “I’ll never find a job, ” or “I’ll never make new friends,” I will literally write out the phrases and edit them to a more positive slant. Instead of saying “I’ll never be happy, ” say, “I choose to be happy, ” or “happiness is not required 100% of the time and that is okay — I will definitely have moments of happiness.”
Keep a good to do list.
There may be a lot to do when faced with a big life change. Whether it is a kid going off to college, relocation, or divorce, change requires action. According to the APA in “Six Myths about Stress,” planning and prioritizing help us cope with stress. They key is “working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties.” I keep a spiral notebook and put the day and date on the top line. Then I list everything I need to do – but the secret is that I make a page for each day of the week and spread out my to do’s. For me, this helps me relax because I am not confronted with a huge list everyday. It also works great for procrastination. If I don’t accomplish something on one day, I still cross it off the list and move it to the next day. After about three days of this, I will just get the task done because I am tired of writing it down day after day.