Taking a Day

So I love Sundays…it’s the one day of the week that I take time for myself and do the things that I really want to do. I forget all about my job, the deadlines, my work stress, and my professional obligations (for the most part) and I just relax, enjoy my friends and family, and re-energize for the week ahead. Usually I start the day with a nice long sleep-in until around 6:30 am, which is the time that my kids come bounding into the room to make sure that I’m up and ready to play. I then hop out of bed and take our dog for a long and leisurely walk. When I get home the coffee is made and I eat a nice, slow breakfast with my wife and kids, I Skype with my family, I go for an invigorating run, and I spend the rest of my lazy morning reading, checking interesting websites, watching basketball, and basically doing whatever I want. By the time that the afternoon rolls around I’m ready to write these blog posts, which I love to do incidentally, and then I head off to play soccer with some friends, some colleagues, and my son, Max. To finish the day we eat dinner as a family and talk abut the favorite parts of our weekend. When it’s finally time for bed I feel great, and I’m ready to take on the mad rush of a Monday morning, as well as the issues that always come with the start of a new school week. I love Sundays…but it wasn’t always this way.

It used to be that I packed so much into the weekend that I’d often go to bed Sunday evening exhausted and out of breath…I used to have real difficulty saying “no” to anything that came my way, either personally or professionally, and I’d feel so guilty if I sat down and relaxed for even an hour. In my mind there was just so much to do… and so much that I convinced myself that I needed to be involved in for the sake of myself as a parent and as a leader. My “me” time dissolved away into nothing, and it started to affect my mental health, as well as my relationships and my mood. I finally woke up to the fact that everyone needs a day…one day a week where you can tune out, spend some time on yourself, and forget all about the stresses in your life. Obviously, getting to this point is not that easy…it takes discipline, commitment, courage, and strength of character to learn how to say no, and to learn how to let things go. As educators we are programmed to give of ourselves almost to a fault, and we struggle to not take our work and our professional lives home with us. We want so badly to be there for our students, and we want to be involved in so much that happens all throughout the school community…I get it. For most of us, our work is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week commitment to our school, and we are always “on”. I love that about educators, and I know that in the short term it can feel great to be so involved…but…if you’re not careful, this passion and commitment can easily lead to burn out. I want you this week to think about how much time you are spending on yourself, and your mental health, and your peace of mind. Are you finding time, or making time to re-energize…to read…to exercise…to be lazy…to spend time with friends outside of work…to learn something new…or to do “nothing”? Learning how to say no, and spending some valuable time on yourself might just be the most important thing that you do for your career…and your life.

My father once told me a long time ago that true self confidence, or a true measure of a person’s self assurance is the ability to say no to someone or something without offering up an excuse. I literally struggled with this for decades, but I’m getting better, and I’m happier. I’m also a better educator now because I carve out time for myself and the things that are important to me outside of my work. Look at how you are spending your time, and try and find ways to capture a few hours throughout the week, or a full day… for yourself! I promise that it will change your life for the better, and help you become the educator that you’ve always wanted to be in the long run. Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week……..
You have to calendar time for yourself even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it.
– Susie Bright

Interesting TED Talk – Roselinde Torres (What it Takes to be a Great Leader)
http://www.ted.com/talks/roselinde_torres_what_it_takes_to_be_a_great_leader.html

Learning How to Say No –
http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/11/learning-to-say-no-is-part-of-success/
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Learn-to-Say-No
http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2014/01/10/do-you-need-to-learn-to-say-no-this-year/

The Importance of Taking Some Time for Yourself –
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201311/the-importance-allowing-yourself-relax
http://www.papersalt.com/blogs/news/5994804-the-importance-of-making-time-for-yourself
http://tinybuddha.com/blog/40-ways-to-give-yourself-a-break/

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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