COMMENTARY: A new year is a time for reflection and more importantly a time for hope. Most people wish for a combination of happiness, health, prosperity, and peace. Educators seek strength and resolution to maintain their life’s work to assist the next generation to succeed in life beyond their classroom and to be re-energized for the challenges that lie ahead.
We are about to close the book for the year 2022. This decade has been one challenge after another thus far. Still, we have all endeavored to endure and meet those challenges. We are survivors. If we are searching for that one person who can change our life, we merely need to look in the mirror. Failures are unavoidable, but misery is optional.
It would be nice if we all started at the same place in life. As Mike Myatt said so elegantly: “Life is not fair -- get used to it!” Some people are frustrated in their job, some bosses are frustrated with employees. Remember that nobody is perfect at the beginning. Keep your focus on patience, perspective, and persistence. Keep showing up! Yes, we all have challenges, and life will treat us all unfairly. We all are on our own journey.
Harvard Business Review had an interesting article 3 Ways Companies Make Work Purposeful that states: “Companies are trying to retain employees through better pay, flexible working conditions, and emphasis on the corporate mission. These are not proving successful because the real problem is people’s engagement with the work they actually do.” Most employees do not even know the corporate mission.
The Harvard article identifies what businesses must emphasize in their attempt to retain key talent: “make the work itself more interesting, link the individual’s work to the mission, and build learning into that work.” This should not just apply in the private sector, but also the public sector as well. In 2023, we need to make work interesting, be more mission-driven, and learn more about our profession and careers. This focus could determine a better work life.
On a personal level, we must take time for self-care. I know a lot of people scoff at the notion, nevertheless, self-care is crucial to gaining a healthy, productive, and gratifying life. Abraham Lincoln had a quote that is worth remembering, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.”
Low self-esteem can affect our quality of life, as well as nearly every facet of our life. It can impact our relationships, job, and health. Myatt again offers this kernel of truth: “The world won't care about your self-esteem.” So, stop trying to please every person. Eliminate toxic relationships. Make time for the people you care about most. In 2023, spend time with people who make you happy. Encourage others as well.
For students, a wise educator once pointed out that, “if you think school is tough, wait until you get a boss.” We need to accentuate soft skills beyond academic results for children in 2023. All children must learn to communicate effectively, manage their time, and think critically.
I am a huge advocate for getting kids engaged in extra-curricular events, such as music, art, drama, or sports. Extracurricular activities help with creativity, as well as help children understand the importance of teamwork. All these goals help children become confident adults that thrive no matter what challenges lie ahead in the future. Parents must teach their children the difference between right and wrong. Schools must reinforce these character traits that help a child grow into a responsible citizen.
In 2023, we will still face untold challenges. We need to reevaluate things that are working and eliminate those that don’t. Do not be afraid to take risks, learn new skills, and try new things. Make a positive impact on your job and in the lives of others. Set your own goals and vision. We can do anything that we set our mind to in 2023. We just need to have optimism and a desire to overcome challenges. In this New Year, we must have hope that the best is yet to come.
Commentary by JC Bowman: JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
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