Fake It Till You Make It: A Checklist of Burned-In Behaviors: Part 6 of I Was Burned Out

Fake It Till You Make It:  A Checklist of Burned-In Behaviors

“By putting forth a spirit of trust and safety, we will prompt others to become extremely open, and feed on each other’s insights and ideas, creating synergy.”
Stephen Covey

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey defines synergy as what happens when all previous habits are rolled into one. Synergy is the sum of all of its parts.

Listen, I’m going to make this post extremely simple and to the point. You either decide that you want to continue teaching, or you don’t. There is no other way around it. I decided a year and a half ago that I didn’t want to teach anymore and I quit. I went back 6 months later and some mornings, pulled into the parking lot with tears in my eyes. Then, I got sick of living that way. I had to make a decision. I was going to continue to make myself miserable (because it was ultimately me that was the problem) or I was going to burn myself in.

The “fake it till you make it” quote couldn’t be more perfect when thinking of synergy in this situation. My attitude stunk at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t going to change without me FAKING that I was loving my life as a teacher again. So I did. I faked my happiness. Faked that I loved getting up so stinking early to leave by 6:50 am to get to work on time (I know you feel me there). Faked that I cared about meetings that were supposed to be helping me. Faked that I wanted to become involved in my new work community. I FAKED MYSELF SICK. Literally. I really did get sick. I had to call a sub. It was bad.

Then, I made a change and there were a lot of really great things that happened when I started behaving the way that I wanted to feel. My attitude couldn’t help but want to join in once I made teaching uncomplicated and more efficient (ahem, synergized?). What made all of this easier is that when I took the risk that I did a year ago, I ultimately put myself in a place that wasn’t consistently dragging me back down every time things were going well. That was where this all began. Action.

Below, you will see the last five posts put into list form. These are, in a nutshell, what I did to get myself on track to enjoy my the teaching career again. Check the things off that you already do, and work on the things that you can’t honestly say that you do consistently:

  • I researched unhappiness and found a book that I thought could help me.
  • I was proactive. I didn’t like something, so I changed it.
  • I dragged myself out of the black hole that was negativity.
  • I failed and learned lessons I never would have learned otherwise.
  • I failed, but met some great people along the way.
  • I began to really care about how my coworkers and students perceived me.
  • I set some serious career goals for myself. I know where I want to go.
  • I faked my happiness until I actually started to be happy.
  • I started working smarter, not harder.
  • I learned some new things. I practiced them until I got good at them.
  • I valued my personal and family time over work.
  • I began to question the way that I did things in/out of the classroom. (What am I doing/not doing to sabotage my efficiency, effectiveness, and happiness?)
  • I built meaningful relationships with my coworkers and my principal.
  • I truly collaborated and tried new things outside of my comfort zone.
  • I realized what a great place I was in and how lucky I was to be there.
  • I was not afraid to talk about my personal struggle.
  • I created synergy.

Wow. Seeing it in list form brings tears to my eyes. When I started teaching again this year, I thought I was incapable of so much. I became completely stagnant. My misery was happy staying right where it was. The last 9 years have come with a lot of highs. But the heights wouldn’t be so magnificent, had I not experienced the lows. Just because I became a teacher 9 years ago does not mean that I can’t set more goals for myself. Educating lends itself to so much more that “just teaching.” I am so excited about the path that lies ahead. The things I did  were the catalyst for what is pushing me to WANT more personally and professionally. I know you want more too, or you wouldn’t be reading this post.

Tomorrow is the last post in this series of my story about how I was burned out and my steps to getting burned back in. I can’t wait to talk to you about how I am “Sharpening My Teaching Saw!”