Approaching Every Day like it’s Everyday

For better or worse the school year is a like a dark ominous cloud in my mind. It’s not that I don’t like teaching. It’s the amount time and energy required during the school year is far more than during the summer. And it’s not even necessarily that I have summers off every year. This summer was the first one in my career that I actually had a significant amount of time off, without conferences, grad school, or new preps to get ready for.

In previous years I’ve taken a “prepare for the storm approach”. This basically meant I would put my head down and get to work, all the while being acutely aware of the dark cloud I was in, during the school year.

But this summer I had some time to learn and reflect through reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts like Question of the Day and the Tim Ferris Show. I learned a lot about living from this mashup of learning.

My biggest influence in this was James Altucher and his book Choose Yourself. One idea I took away is that people spend too much time focused on the past and the future and not enough time focusing on the present. The last few weeks I’ve really tried to do this (meditating helped) and I think it’s made me happier. I used to worry about the future a lot. About things that I couldn’t control. I’ve cut down on this and I worry less.

The question for me became, how do I carry this into the school year? How do I take this idea of embracing the moment, and try to apply it during the time of the year that my brain is most overloaded?

I never realized there was a difference between “every day” and “everyday” until a few months ago. “Every day” refers to something that happens daily, like “I brush my teeth every day”. “Everyday” refers to something that is commonplace, like wearing your everyday clothes to a wedding would be a bad idea. (At least this is my math major understanding of it.)

Each day I want to wake up and approach the day like it’s everyday. It’s a day in my life with a set of things to be done. Unexpected stressors. Ups. Downs. Sideways…es.

Because each day is like that, isn’t it? We all have 24 hours. Those hours will be filled with stuff. There’s nothing that I can do to create more hours. I can only fill them with the most important things, and get them done.

Control the moments I can. Let go of the moments I can’t.

Even during vacations or breaks each day brings with it a set of things that need to be done or accomplished. The school year is no different. I admit there may be more to do than during a break. The shear number of things to be done can be overwhelming, but I try to go back to that idea of embracing the moment (I think gratitude plays a huge part in this as well, but that’s a post for another day).

The success of the thing I’m trying to accomplish in this moment can only be impeded by worrying about the things that have to happen in the next moment(s). And especially the things that might not happen at all! Not only will it cause stress but it will make me less productive.

Now, this can be more difficult if I don’t do certain things. If I constantly wait to the last minute, don’t use a to do list, or don’t use a calendar. If I don’t exercise and start to eat junk, sacrificing my health. If I do that then it’s certainly difficult to “seize the day”. It becomes much easier for the day to seize you and by the time 5:00pm or 6:00pm rolls around you’re beat.

And I’m not contending that I will never come home from school beat. It would be totally naive to think that because of my mindset that I’ll never be stressed or that things won’t land on my plate in the 24 hours that require way more hours than 24.

However, no mindset or approach is perfect. The goal is to put a mental structure in place that will maximize your effectiveness and happiness, while decreasing stress and pressure.

I love autumn. But many years it seems I have so much going and so much stress that I dread it as it approaches and miss most of it because I’m trying to “get through it”. My goal is to make that not happen this year.

And every year after.

Originally published at on August 30, 2016.

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