What's Your Enough?

by Stephanie

Let’s face it: we are busy. And we seem to be getting busier. Most instructional coaches share one common strength: they want to help. They spend their days serving others in the best interests of students and are always looking for more ways to do just that: more professional learning sessions, more coaching sessions, more reading and writing, more paperwork and more you-fill-in-the-blank. And while it is admirable, it is also fairly self-destructive. =)

I am definitely guilty of this ‘more’ mentality: more virtual coaching visits, more Twitter chats and social media posts, more blog posts and newsletters, more presentations and conferences. And I love every minute of it. But I realized that ‘more’ became my new normal. I was never quite satisfied with all I accomplished in a day and spent my days rushing around to get to the next thing without appreciating the things I actually completed or slowing down to simply connect with those around me. No, I always had to be rushing to the next thing if I wanted to reach the increasing level of ‘more’ that I had set for myself.

But life has a way of reminding you of what is actually important. Last week, as I was grounded with the stomach bug for over a week with my family, I realized something important: life didn’t end because I rescheduled a meeting. The Internet did not crash because I did not post my blog post for the week. I was not fired because I did not answer emails within moments as I usually do. And the dishes did not self-destruct in the sink. Nope. Life went on just fine. As I pondered my life from the couch, a frightening thought occurred to me: my crazy-busy-hustle-no-rest-for-the-weary life was completely self-inflicted. At some point, I stopped being content with doing enough and worked to do more instead.

I spent some time listening to podcasts that week (I couldn’t do much else!) and listened to the 312th episode of Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast titled Defining Enough as an Entrepreneur. While focused on business, I was mesmerized by the content and it instantly changed the way I thought about my work and my lifestyle. In the podcast, Jenna urges listeners to define their ‘enough’, their baseline for what you need to keep things running well: What’s the minimum salary we need to make to live a content (not extravagant) life? How much content do we need to share with the world? How many clients do we need to serve? While her focus was on business, the question applies to all of us, especially those that serve others: What is your enough?

Think about it. How might you define a successful day or week of coaching? What is the minimum you need to be productive and successful? How many learning sessions would you facilitate? How many coaching cycles? How many completed data charts, emails or newsletters? Chances are, your ‘enough’ is exactly what you are doing right now….or even less. But in our never-ending-quest to strive for more, we do not give ourselves credit for what we are already doing. We do not lighten up on ourselves even though we have probably been quite successful and are already going above and beyond what is needed.

But here’s the thing. Defining our enough does not mean that we are not going to strive for more. Not at all. It means we must have a threshold that helps us decipher the difference between doing enough to be productive and always reaching for more, bringing stress and busyness to our work that is completed self-inflicted.

Here’s a quick activity to try that Jenna recommends in the podcast episode: Grab a piece of paper and divide it down the middle. On the left side, list all of your tasks for the past week. On the right, list your most successful moments that week as a coach. Next, draw a line from the task on the left that directly contributed to your success on the right. If you find that you cannot connect some of your tasks to your successes as a coach, then these are things you might rethink privileging in your day….or at least not stress about them as you might currently do. Try it. It’s pretty powerful.

I hope you’ll ponder these ideas this week and define your enough so you can better design your work day to fuel your work and your spirit. After all, instructional coaches support everyone else and now it’s time to think about how we can support ourselves.

Want to discuss these ideas with other coaches? Head to my Facebook Group 'Leading by Learning' and share your thinking!

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  1. I've decided to take a half day off today to get the paper work done. I have students on IEPs and they are all due this month. I want to be fully present when I am with my students, not distracted by paper work. It's a necessary part of my work, but I am choosing to not let it interfere with teaching. Sometimes it takes being grounded (by illness) to figure out what is important. We have to learn to say no (and start with no to ourselves.) Thanks.

    1. This is such a good example, Margaret. If we want to be fully present where it matters most, then we need to give ourselves the time and grace in other aspects of our life. Thanks for commenting!


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