I currently listening to this amazing audiobook called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It fits in with my journey of less - less stuff, less junk food, less waste, less stress and it is fine tuning some of my ideas.
He talks about how most of us spend our lives focusing on and working on so many different and sometimes unimportant things. We do not define and focus on the 'vital few'. Like most minimalists, he espouses ridding your life of all the extraneous junk so you can truly 'go big' on the important dreams.
What's different is that he does not start with decluttering your house but with defining your focus. Now I have never been a fan of mission statements. They always seem boring, fluffy and a waste of time. McKeown, however, talks about establishing your essential intent. What is it in life you are passionate about, have a talent for, and meets a need in the world? Then filter all opportunities, tasks, and requests through that screen. There will be tradeoffs but this will allow you to let go of the trivial many and embrace the vital few.
So - what does this look like and why am I so excited about it?
At work this year I have carried some resentments about jobs I was doing that I felt where not my responsibility but were not getting done if I didn't do them. Then there were tons of time-consuming things that seemed meaningless and actually kept me from teaching. Then there were things I ignored but felt guilty about.
While reading this book, I asked myself - what is my purpose here? What do I want to accomplish? My answer is that I want to empower students to graduate. Then I started looking at everything I do at work and asking whether it directly affected a student's ability to graduate. Lots of my tasks do fit directly into that goal. Those I can feel good about giving my time and energy too whether or not they are in my job description. I can choose to do them rather than feeling put upon. Lots of tasks do not fit that direction. Some are not part of my talents or my passion. Those should be given to people who better fit that need. Some are someone else's job and I don't need to rescue them from their responsibilities. Some are just dumb and should be minimized or eliminated.
This shift in perspective is so empowering. I feel lighter. I feel permission to be true to myself and my calling. I feel an excitement about next school year that usually does not come until after weeks of summer rest. It is amazing!