Jul 01, 2023

Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series: Cultivating Great Habits for Success and Well-Being

Welcome to episode 190 of The Burned-In Teacher Podcast!  In this episode - which is our 5th meeting of The Hacking Teacher Burnout Summer Book Study Series -  we are diving into Hack Four of Hacking Teacher Burnout and we’re talking about nurturing great habits for success and about what makes us great by leaning into our strengths, as well as how our habits bring out or hinder our greatness. 

If you are just joining us for the Hacking Teacher Burnout Book Study series, there’s no need to fret! Just make sure you have a copy of my book Hacking Teacher Burnout and you’ve downloaded a copy of the Hacking Teacher Burnout Book Study guide, and you might want to go back and listen to the kickoff episode - Episode 186 - just so you’re set up for success for the rest of the series. 

Also, before we dive into Hack Four, I want to give a shout-out to all the people that are posting their takeaways and partaking in the challenges in the Facebook Community!  If you haven’t been in there yet, I encourage you to dive in there, check out what our community members are up to, and also share your wins and takeaways! 

Alright, so back to the book!

Today we’re going to talk about nurturing your habits and strengths.  But before we do that, I want to tell you a little story of why this action step is so important to me. 

In the summer of 2017, I was attending Google Innovator in Washington, DC. And among all of the amazing experiences that I encountered during my three days there, as well as all the incredible educators I met there,  one specific 30-minute session I attend STILL sticks with me.  

This session was about self-awareness. The speaker talked specifically about our strengths and our gifts and how we have to stop letting other people dim our lights and how TRULY knowing ourselves is our superpower

And after the talk, we were encouraged to go to a website (www.16personalities.com) and answer some questions about ourselves so that we could get to know ourselves better. Up until that point, I had never considered doing a personality assessment, so I was REALLY intentional about how I answered the questions. And what came out on the other end blew my frickin mind!  I remember tearing up as I read my results that shed light on my emotional and work tendencies, as well as the best careers for people with my strengths and my weaknesses. 

I felt like I was seeing myself for the very first time.

I read over my results multiple times and really soaked up every single new realization that I was having. This was a pivotal moment in my burnout journey because I felt like I truly understood why I thought the way that I thought and why I had the triggers that I had and why past relationships had gone sour. Doors were open to me that had always been closed. 

Nothing has been the same since that moment.  Knowing myself, knowing my tendencies, and becoming self-aware has been the GREATEST gift that I have given myself.   Now as I look back on situations that I had either put myself in or that I was placed in and I can see how I could have handled them differently.  I was unleashed as a teenager and even as a young child. There's another there's no other way to describe it.  I was brash. I was unfiltered. I didn't understand how to just sit back and listen, nor did I understand that if people disagreed with me, it wasn’t my joy to change their minds. 

Self-awareness is the number one superpower that we have when it comes to knowing ourselves so that we can move through burnout in the way that is best for us. 

In this hack, today, we are going to:

  • Identify our personality type
  • Understand how we can use our personality type to identify our strengths and our weaknesses (because knowing those is really important as well) 
  • Understand how our daily habits (both good and bad) are impacting us. 

My first question is which of the three action steps from pages 105 and 106 will you take? The thing that sticks out to me is the part in the “What You Can Do Tomorrow” about listing your habits. On page 14 of your study guide, there’s a place for you to record your habits.  You’ll think about what it is that you do every morning, what you do every afternoon, and what you do every evening.  Think critically about the habits that you have: 

  • Do you habitually get up every morning and check your phone right away? 
  • Do you lay out your workout clothes every evening before you go to bed? 
  • Do you eat the same things every single day? 
  • Do you drink enough water?
  • Do you talk to your mom every day on the way home from school? 

Really paying attention is what this chapter is all about and understanding that mindfulness is part of self-awareness. We need to be mindful of who we're hanging out with and what we're doing and what we're saying and what our beliefs are. This is a huge piece of moving through the burnout puzzle. 

One thing I want to point out is that this specific chapter is this is why I tell people to not sit down and binge-read Hacking Teacher Burnout. In order for you to really pay attention to your habits throughout the next few days, you're going to have to take a timeout from reading this book. In the study guide, there is space for you to pay attention to and record your habits for 7 days and then come back and review that chart and reflect on what you see. There are questions on page 108 that will help to guide you and reflect on what those habits say about you and about where you're going and whether you are adding to or taking away from the strengths that you have. 

Let’s go back to the website that I used at Google Innovator.  This website was www.16personalities.com. It's a totally FREE quiz that you can take. I've had A LOT of Burned-In Teacher Univeristy students, as well as other teachers that I’ve worked with, take this quiz, sometimes even multiple times! 

Their faces light up when they get their results. You can tell that they have the same excitement and intrigue about learning about themselves as I did back in 2017. It's so reinvigorating to know that you’re not “crazy” or “weird” for being or thinking the way that you do.  You’re just different and nobody is the same.  Understanding that we're not the same is a big part of this Hack as well.  Differences are beautiful. It takes a village to do this work, and it takes all kinds to make the world go round. 

Don’t forget to post about your results in the Facebook community!  I’d love to see your results! 

Another thing that I want you to consider is adding a few Keystone Habits to your life. This includes making sleep a priority, eating healthier, and intentionally moving your body everyday priorities. These are some of the things that go by the wayside so quickly when burnout sinks in. 

My friend Molly and I were just talking about how, when you’re in the classroom everyday or whatever role you play in education, it feels like you’re being rushed all the time and there’s no time to stop and think about what you’re doing and what you’re putting into your body.  Also, if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s hard to think and make decisions well.  

Look closely at the list of habits that you've tracked and then choose at least one healthy habit to add to your daily routine. Pay attention to how adding that habit can cause ripple effects to other healthier habits as well. If you don't take care of yourself, you can not most effectively take care of others. Drinking more water will help you think more clearly, along with getting more sleep and thinking about food as fuel. Lord knows we make a gazillion decisions a day as teachers!  

If you'd like to take an extra step in learning about yourself is to take the Gallop Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment - for this one, you do have to buy the book because inside that book is a code for you to take this quiz.  When I took this assessment, tears fell when I got my results.  My number one strength on this assessment was “futuristic”, and I had never looked at that as a strength. I'm always looking forward, always moving the goalposts, and always thinking about what's next before finishing what I’m working on at the moment. But it turns out that being futuristic is why I’m continually looking ahead and thinking about what’s next, which is something I’ve always beat myself up about.  I’d tell myself, “Why can’t you just be content?” and “Why can’t you just be in the present moment?” Now I’ve learned how to harness this as a strength in my life.

Another thing I’d like to talk about today is “opportunity cost”. Essentially, opportunity cost is where you understand that when you say “yes” to some things, you’re saying “no” to others, and vice versa. Look back at the list of habits that you recorded over the last seven days. And as you look at your list, I want you to consider your core values and your goal.  Yup, we're going back to Hack One! Then, decide what you are going to say “No” to and what you’ll say “Yes” to. If our daily habits are not aligning with our core values, we have some changes to make, and these changes are not going to happen overnight. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.  And remember you’re not perfect, you are going to make mistakes, but keeping those core values we talked about in Hack One front and center and continually going back to that personal and professional mission statement that you wrote in Hack Two will help keep you on track.  

Finally, I can't talk about self-awareness and habits without talking about positivity. No, I'm NOT talking about toxic positivity. I'm NOT talking about pretending everything's okay when it's not. I'm talking about how you can incorporate focusing on the positive into your everyday life as a habit. It’s a muscle you have to build because it’s so easy to be incredibly negative in this in this profession.

In last week's episode, I talked a bit about how easy it is to get sucked into the algorithm of negative thoughts and perspectives about teaching. It’s much more popular in social media to focus on what’s wrong with education than it is for someone to talk about how much they really enjoy the profession and the ways in which they are choosing to move through their day in a more positive and proactive manner. If you are going to make it out of burnout and stay out of burnout, you have to make looking for the positive a habit in your daily life. Otherwise, those terror downers, those crabs in our lives, are going to keep pulling us back down into burnout. 

Alright, that's all we have for today's episode all about nurturing your habits and your strengths! Your assignment for next week is to read “Hack Five: Extend Your Reach and Possibilities”. And as always, I highly encourage you to join In the Burnden Teacher Podcast Facebook Community. I am in there asking questions and I've got some little challenges for you all in an effort to help connect you with other teachers so that you know you're not alone on this journey. 


Call to Action: Things You Can Do Tomorrow 

  1. Take the 16 Personalities Assessment and reflect on what that experience taught you about yourself. 
  2. Pay attention to and record your habits for one week. Reflect on whether those habits are helping or hindering your strengths. 
  3. Consider ONE Keystone Habit you’d like to add to your daily routine. 








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