“New year. New you.” Oftentimes, we start with great intentions to be more creative or more organized or have more balance. And, we put pressure on ourselves to sacrifice over the long-term for professional & personal growth. But, what if it doesn’t have to be this way?
I used to get excited about this idea that I could recreate myself. It was freeing to move to a new place where no one knew me & I could become more of the person I wanted to be without any of the baggage. But, after decades of personal growth, I don’t want to be a “new” me. I want to be an ever-improving me that loves who I am now … & the person I’ll evolve into over time. (Though I do have my moments of stress still.)
There is no one like you. This means that you have a creative approach to things that no one else will.
Even if you don’t see yourself as creative in your approach, you have combined what you’ve learnt & your experiences to create an approach that is uniquely you. Rather than a “new me” when you discover a new program or approach, you can change & adapt over time in ways that are sustainable & less likely to lead to burnout.
If you ever saw my desk, my reputation for being organized would probably fly right out the window. While I’ve created strategies & systems to keep me organized digitally, the physical side of things is rarely that organized. At least before it gets into the file cabinet. Though I do still aim for personal growth in this area.
The funny part is that I used to clear my desk at the end of every single workday when I was teaching in the classroom. There would be a neat pile of anything that needed to be photocopied in the morning & a neatly written out to-do list for the next day. My husband was the one that had the ‘organized chaos’ desk! Fast forward a couple of decades & I seem to have taken after him. Oh, my.
We have a tendency to have an all-or-nothing attitude about organization in particular. That somehow not having everything perfectly put away means we are less than. This just isn’t true. It takes time to put systems into place. It takes time to make habits for new behaviours.
Maybe, like me, your desk or teaching space looks chaotic because they’re ideas you are working on. Maybe, you’re struggling to create order out of the massive amounts of paper, books & notes. Or, maybe you are somewhere on the continuum.
Give yourself grace. Especially during the busy seasons of running a studio.
Balance isn’t a one-time deal
I focus quite a bit on this site on creating balance. And, that’s because I’ve been in jobs where there was no balance. Where it felt like my work had overtaken everything else in my life … including my health.
Balance isn’t a one-time deal. It’s making decisions on a daily basis to keep up habits & systems.
You won’t suddenly be a “new you”. Personal growth or creating a new normal in any aspect of life or business takes time. And, it won’t ever be perfect. Or, at least I haven’t discovered the secret to having perfect balance during those busy seasons (i.e. recital, registration or beginning of the new term). Have you?
Don’t reinvent the wheel
I love creating resources & writing music for my students. And, my boutique studio is small enough that I have the time to do this. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever buy anything. There are many people that I admire on a personal level & the resources they create. And, to be blunt, they can do certain things better & faster than I could. So, why not take advantage of their strengths? Especially at those busy times.
One thing that my younger students loved was story-based piano songs. They loved getting to know the characters & hearing the story unfold as they played. This naturally became something that became a part of my composing process. With “Sam’s Life“, “Gizmo: A Quirky Cockatiel” & “Jake’s Fishing Adventure” my students got to know the pets in my life & theirs! These songs were student-favourites because they could relate to & laugh about the adventures this cat, bird & dog had.
When deciding whether to create or adapt, decide whether now is the time to invest the energy to create from scratch.
For years, I didn’t have the energy to invest in composing music for my students. So, I found incredible music that met that need. Neither approach is better. Personal growth as a teacher can come from using ready-made resources & tweaking them for your situation … or creating from scratch.
Personal growth doesn’t mean a new you
Let’s change the internal monologue this year to “New year. Better you.”
What positive message will you tell yourself this year about who you are as a person & teacher?