We know what to do. Sometimes, we don’t want to do it. Sometimes, we are too tired to do it.
It reminds me of that meme, “She believed she could, but she was tired, so she didn’t.” Ha!
I’ve been reading Tim Grover’s books, W1NNING and Relentless. In Relentless, he talks about how many of us know what to do to get healthier: move our bodies, eat better, drink more water. And yet, we still buy books to tell us the thing we already know to do.
WHY is that?
If it was that simple, wouldn’t everyone be doing it? This is why I enjoy what James Clear has to say in his book, Atomic Habits. He addresses that space between what we know we should be doing and getting ourselves to do it.
“It is easy to get bogged down trying to find the optimal plan for change: the fastest way to lose weight, the best program to build muscle, the perfect idea for a side hustle. We are so focused on figuring out the best approach that we never get around to taking action.” – James Clear
Both Grover and Clear spend a lot of time explaining the importance of taking action. Every day. Doing something every day that you really didn’t feel like doing. Less thinking. More doing.
“Do. The. Work. Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear. Otherwise, the next day you’re going to have two things you don’t want to do, then three and four and five, and pretty soon, you can’t even get back to the first thing. And then all you can do is beat yourself up for the mess you’ve created, and now you’ve got a mental barrier to go along with the physical barriers.” – Tim Grover
What the authors also explain is that our identity is an important part of getting ourselves to do hard things.
So, we need need to take a good look at ourselves, what do we really, REALLY want? Where focus goes, energy flows. Then, instead of obsessing over the very best first step to take to achieve it. Let’s just take an action. Any small action. If want to become healthier, great, let’s commit to drinking an additional glass of water every day. For a month. Because in a month, we won’t think about that tall glass of water anymore. We will just drink it. And when that happens, great, it’s time for the next small step to take. For a month. Until we don’t think about that one either.
And suddenly, we’ve formed 12 new habits over one year’s time. Think about that. Think about twelve changes made over the span over the year to get you to a goal. That’s progress. It’s very likely you will be physically healthier. And proud of yourself. Thinking about yourself like, “I’m a person who accomplishes what I set out to do!” That’s empowering.
It’s not about the goal. It’s about our systems for achieving our goals. James Clear says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
I wonder if this is what we are missing in some of our “data” meetings in schools. Do we have pictures of kids at the table? To start, they are our WHY. They are why we want to be better. That’s a big part of our identity as educators. But also, setting goals for improvements is nice, but it’s not the work. The work is the small moves made over time that can make a big difference. Too many data meetings sound like, “We need to get these scores up.” Well, yeah. We know. But how? And because we don’t know what the best strategy or step to take is, we may not take a step.
And that’s where things go wrong.
We need to move.
Imagine if every month we, as teachers, tried something small to improve student learning. We tried it every day for month and got good at it. We got so good at it that it became second nature, and we didn’t have to think about doing it or doing well. We just do it well now. And it’s working great for our students.
Great, that move is second nature. Now on to the next strategy. That’s nine new instructional moves over the nine months in a school year.
That’s a lot of good moves. That we don’t do have to think much about – we can just do, so we can think about the next one more intently.
We don’t talk like this enough in our schools. So many voices in our ears. So many moves. So many big moves encouraged at once. When everything feels important, nothing is important.
What is something you really want to achieve? Think about you being proud of you a year from now. Being proud that you didn’t give up. And move small. Don’t think about it too hard. Move. And keep moving. Every day. Focus on how good it feels to make that small move each day. Focus less on how far away you are from your long-term goal and more on how good it feels to make daily progress.
You will get there. Just keep moving. Small moves. Big impact. Keep going, and you’ll be growing and glowing.