This summer has been one of a lot of reflecting for me. For the first time in seven years, I’ll be at a new school next year. This coming school year, I’ll have two books published under my name. So much is going on and so much has happened so fast. This summer, I’ve slowed down. I’ve been reading and writing and walking and reflecting. I’ve slept in, eaten healthy, and finally developed an exercise routine that I can stick to (thanks Nerd Fitness Academy!). Along the way, I’ve re-learned a lesson that I think I’m going to need to re-learn over and over again: there is power in slowing down.
The Power of Slowing Down
A little over a year ago, I gave an ignite speech at Riding the Wave in Gimli, Manitoba. I later wrote up a blog post based off of that speech. In that post, I shared about how I tend to take on too many responsibilities, commit to projects I don’t have a passion for, and spread myself too thin. I talk about the fear of burn out, and how so many educators suffer from this same fate of pushing themselves too hard. And yet this summer, I realized that I was right back there again.
I was working on putting together an eCourse that I wasn’t really passionate about. My excuse was that it would earn me money, so I could finally pay off my credit card debt. How did I get that debt? Self-paying for conferences I didn’t have to go to since my school couldn’t afford it. Buying things I didn’t really need. Subscribing to programs to help me be a better blogger and utilize social media better. Meanwhile, I wasn’t writing (my real passion) because I was too busy and too exhausted.
I was getting requests to present webinars. To write blog articles. To offer advice on a maker program someone was starting somewhere in the globe. To endorse another product. I was feeling completely worn out and drained and I wasn’t even working forty hours a week.
Can we go back to the Disciplined Pursuit of Less?
One of my favorite books that I’ve read in recent years was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (my review here). The author speaks about how we tend to commit to too many things and lose sight of our passions. How we need to be strong in saying no to everything that doesn’t fit in with our true priorities.
So what are my true passions? I love working with students in environments where they can explore their creativity through hands-on projects. I love the pride in their faces when they share their works. Putting that just-right book into the hands of a student.
Writing my blog gives me joy, when they’re posts that I want to write about because I can’t wait to share them with the world. Working on the books gave me joy as well. Helping other educators to rethink their spaces, bring out the creativity in their students and create makerspaces brings me joy. I actually like public speaking, although I’ve learned that too much travel wears me out.
Let’s Chase Slow Together
The book that really got me thinking and reflecting about all of this is Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path. This is an amazing book that deals with everything from marriage to food to motherhood to spirituality to work. What resonates with me the most in it is the author’s story of starting a successful lifestyle blog and where that took her. Having previously suffered from panic attacks, she kept adding more and more to her life, even though she already had what she needed. Eventually, she cut back, sold one of her websites, and refocused back on the writing that she loved (Check out her post: The Rebirth of Slow Blogging). In slowing down, she found exactly what she needed.
So, how am I slowing down?
Being that this is a new year at a new school, I had already planned to cut back on some things. Now I’m re-evaluating even more. I’m still definitely blogging here at least 2-4 times a month because I love writing, and this is my favorite place to share my writing with others. I’m still speaking some, but I’m cutting it WAY back. Mostly Florida stuff and maybe one of two extra speaking gigs (and ISTE and AASL, because those are my two favorite conferences). I’m not making any new eCourses right now because, really, I’m not passionate about it. I’ll do a few webinars to help promote the books, but not as much as in previous years. And if you’re worried about not getting resources, don’t worry! I’m still posting those freely because I believe in sharing things out.
I’m changing up my Work with me page a bit to reflect how I’m cutting back. There might be other changes later. For now, I just know that I’ve been doing WAY too much and it’s wearing me down. I want to get back to focusing on the things I love and worry less about everything else. Because really, it does no one any good if I get completely burned out and exhausted from trying to do more than I can handle.
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for listening to me be honest about my struggles. If you struggle with taking on too many things and are thinking about slowing down, I hope this gives you the courage to go for it.