News, Articles & Tips
New Year: Who Needs A Change?
Maybe you're finding that getting started in your new year back to school is off to a slow or rocky start. Sometimes we find ourselves procrastinating or, at the extreme, dreading getting back to our school-time routine.
There can be many reasons for feeling this way. It would be easy to then feel guilty for said procrastination or dread. One potential culprit behind how you’re feeling could be that some areas simply need to change.
Why Do We Resist Change?
If you are like me, I tend to resist change. I may not like the way things are going.
As I’ve shared in other blogs that I’ve written, I tend to be a driven, moderate Type A kind of person. But being that way has its negative side. I will often struggle my way through a situation before admitting that something is not working. I will plow through and suffer rather than stop and recalibrate.
Honestly, one of the first times I began to recognize this about myself was when I first learned about Trail Guide to Learning. I am ever grateful for the honest conversation at the end of a homeschool convention with the series' main author, Debbie Strayer, as she helped me see this blindspot.
Sometimes it’s not only a driven personality trait, but a false belief that quitting is somehow admitting failure and seems weak or unspiritual. This is certainly not to undermine the powerful virtue and fruit of the spirit of perseverance or faithfulness. So please do not hear what I am NOT saying. We often need to choose to stick with something, to wait or press through challenging things. However, it’s my experience that we often wait too long to change course.
So I write this to encourage those of you who are struggling to consider that maybe you need some encouragement to make some changes.
If things are not going as you hoped, know that you have permission to consider CHANGE.
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
— Lou Holtz
Ready For Change?
Sometimes the hardest part of change is trying to figure out where to begin. You know things need to change, but deciding exactly what needs to be done and how to do it can seem elusive.
Start Simple—Often taking a few minutes to sit, reflect, and write down what did and did not go well is the best place to start. It doesn’t require a lot of time. As homeschool moms, we might know what those things are, but the extra effort to sit and get them on paper in front of us will allow us to see them with a fresh perspective.
Taking this reflection time regularly is so important but can sometimes feel counterproductive when we just want to move forward. Making the space to evaluate the past is key to making improvements for the future, though. We all want to grow. Making the effort here can really make the difference.
The main purpose of this stage would be to narrow down to a specific, definable goal to change. From there, a plan can be developed. Honor the process. Let your thoughts flow freely.
SIDE NOTE: Naturally the process of reflection on things that are negative can play on what I term “mom guilt” (forever our greatest critics). Remember this is about growth and we must allow ourselves to look at things critically and admit our faults while knowing that all of the mistakes and failures will work together for good. No guilt. No condemnation. JUST HEALTHY EVALUATION.
Brainstorm—Take your time. Resist the urge to fix anything or come up with solutions. There will likely be more to change than you can change immediately. So keep the list handy for later.
There are generally two areas that you’ll address:
- Areas or activities where there was difficulty, challenge, or dissonance: Consider those areas for you or your children that brought high stress, led to emotional outbursts, or hindered the original intent or purpose for an activity. Here are some leading questions to help you get started:
- What part(s) of my day or week was consistently stressful or challenging?
- Considering each person in my family, what was one of the biggest areas of struggle or challenge?
- Important or valuable things that were neglected
Another way to evaluate the need for change is to take a look at the things that never got done.
- You could ask how important it was to begin with, or…
- You might find that after answering the questions above some things need to change in order to allow space for others.
Prioritize—Put things that you feel need to be addressed in order of importance. Consider starting with items that have the most potential to have the greatest impact.
Months after the birth of my fourth child, one of the areas I knew needed to change was the process of leaving the house with four children under the age of 8 years old. The truth is that I didn’t have a “process.” It was more like utter chaos most days and even involved tears. I found myself constantly late to most places and always stressed out. I did not like the effect on myself or my kids. I wanted to change that.
Coming up with a plan was a bit more difficult.
Create A Plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish…” — Antoine De Saint-Exupery
After evaluating and prioritizing some things that need changing, a logical next step is a plan with actionable strategies toward making those changes. To be sure, it’s worth writing a plan down because you will be more successful at implementing the changes when you have a written plan.
Take notice that your plan should have actionable steps. This means the plan should include points that require action that is specific and measurable.
Brainstorm several possible plans towards change. Write down anything that comes to mind. Be outlandish. Be creative. The idea is to try new things to change the situation that is causing the struggle.
Seek out resources such as the internet and friends or mentors for ideas. Not every situation has a simple or easy solution. But certainly there is someone who has needed to make changes similar to the ones you are addressing.
Be Flexible. The change may take several different attempts or may need to be tweaked.
After some time writing down observations of what was happening regularly as we left the house, I wrote down as many ideas as I could for ways to change. I also included the wisdom of my spouse and friends who could help look at the situation objectively. The first and most obvious step was to allow more time when leaving the house. I also enlisted the help of my older children by giving them specific tasks to do each time we left. There were a few household organizational changes that helped tremendously.
Once you’ve got a clear plan, the next step is to implement the change.
In my experience, the key to implementing change is found in the thorough execution of the first two steps I’ve explained above, along with effective accountability. Take full advantage of those steps. Revisit them as necessary.
Accountability is only as effective as you want it to be. I have found having someone involved in the process of making changes provided insight and support that I needed. Much of who I am and the things I’ve done in my life are out of those valuable relationships.
Finally, change is not easy. Some changes, depending on the situation, can take more time and getting used to. Be prepared for transition time and even some resistance.
Whether you identify with the challenge of a SLOW or ROCKY start to your new year or not, all growth stems from change. The more equipped we are, the more we’ll embrace the need for change.
Change can be hard in the beginning but its reward pays off exponential dividends. Remember, the goal is not perfection but progress. You’ve got this, homeschool mama!