Using the fresh start of the academic year to create habits for happiness…
I’m treating the first of September like a New Year’s Day. New goals, fresh ideas and higher expectations. As a teacher, September has always signified the new. New students, new resources and a new academic year. It’s a chance to do better, hone skills and craft new ways of educating young adults. You hope that they will gain the skills to navigate a better future for themselves, make brighter decisions, fight better battles and learn when to dig deep.
Four weeks from today I will turn 51 and I have a month to test out my own manifesto for the year, a chance to better myself, plan and prepare before my birthday chimes into my sixth decade. In the hope that I will learn the same lessons, be better than before, learn when to concede and when to push harder.
The French call it ‘la rentree’ the beginning of term but it means more. After a summer of family time, holidays and the closure of small businesses, people catch up with each other, restaurants open and there are even sales in the high street. This renewal is a chance to start again.
Rosh Hashannah also falls at this time of year in the Jewish calendar. Traditionally, apples are dipped in honey in the hope that the new year will be sweet. It’s a time for introspection, to reflect on the past year and make amends. It’s a time to review your achievements and set new goals.
I have decided to concentrate on five main areas of my life as a ‘mini maxi happiness project’ inspired by Gretchen Rubin and her book and blog of the same name.
Sleep – I’m a night owl, evenings are my most productive time of day. I write and then I have dinner, I may watch TV, read a book and before I realise, it’s midnight. I am up at 6.30am so this six and a half hours is short of the recommended eight. I aim to get to bed at 10.00pm Sunday to Thursday, allowing later bedtime at the weekend. No media before bedtime and leave the phone alarm in the next room so that I have to get up and switch it off.
Food – I need to cut down on carbs and reduce my sugar intake. I’m going to eat fresh green veg daily and eat fish once a week, I’m mostly vegetarian these days. If I experiment with a few easy plant-based snacks and treats I can take a more creative packed lunch for work and not rely on sandwiches. If I have company, I’m going to have a take away at the weekend, healthier options and ice cream on a Saturday night.
Exercise – I will go swimming three times a week. We currently have to book time in the pool and I have another two months of access to an outdoor Lido, so I will manage this booking on my calendar. I’ll also commit to taking a long walk at the weekend, combining my travel and nature studies with an outing and some photography. Matching something I need to do with another activity that I enjoy will make it easier to commit to. It’s a long drive to the pool so I will utilise the time by listening to an audio book or podcast.
Work – Keep work within work hours. I’m currently working .8 of a week as a teacher in a specialist school. It’s a fantastic environment where we continually develop new ways of making learning a more exciting experience. I need to allow preparation time for resources and planning so I will commit to working full days and using in school PPA time to full effect. If I can keep my working life at school, I can relax more at home.
Writing – I can’t say I’m a writer unless I write. If I find myself lacking inspiration, I will avoid the page. By keeping to a time, a designated part of my day, I will have to sit down and just get on with it. It doesn’t matter how I feel, I just have to start. By giving myself a time slot, I don’t have to make a decision about how I spend my time, the decision is made. Time spent researching, looking at websites, news and blogs is always better in the morning. I need to start gathering ideas in a notepad throughout the day, it’ll make it easier to recall interesting items and ideas.
So, this is my outline for a bit more happiness, a little more planning and a lot more productivity. I will refine a few pointers over the next month so that I’m all ready for another new year.
Let me know if you feel September is a ‘new start’ or any other significant time that you make resolutions.
Striving for more happiness, always,