A new university semester started last week and with it my role as a casual lecturer.
I love being a teacher/educator/facilitator of learning. I love being in a class room with a group of (mostly!) young, bright, eager-eyed students – and the occasional bored stare! I love learning and being able to help facilitate learning in others – nerdy stuff I know but it really floats my boat!
In my first class with second year social work students I took them through some practical exercises around identifying values – what are they, how are they formed, how do our values drive our lives – what do we stand for? In the spirit of being an interactive teacher I also engaged with the exercises. Now, I’ve done a lot of reflection on my personal and professional values over the years (it’s kind of par for the course when you’re a social worker!) and I do believe it helps us to get to the core of what we want/need/believe in.
But this particular values exercise hit me a little harder, and a little closer to home, than others I have done. At the end of the exercise it asked “If your life were to reflect your top 3 values more, what would need to change?”
And the answer to this question for me? Quite a lot.
A lot would need to change in order for my current life to truly be reflective of my top 3 values. How scary is that? It really shook me, sitting there in front of a classroom of students, that the life I’m currently living isn’t maximising the essence of who I need/want/would like to be. I don’t feel as though I’m being true to myself, or those I care about.
And the thing is, I know this! I’m working a lot at the moment – more than I really wanted/planned to this year – but some amazing opportunities came up that I wanted to grab with both hands (while really only having one hand free…). And I’m loving (almost!) every minute of this work – it is stimulating, challenging, meaningful work that I am passionate about and engaged in.
But (and here’s the big but!), I have other important, vital parts of my life that are missing out or not getting the best of me because of the workload I have currently taken on. My relationships, my family and myself are missing out. There is only so much time to go around isn’t there?
Now, don’t fear – I’m not about to launch into a spiritual awakening (that really isn’t my style!). I don’t believe in “If you want it badly enough, it will come to you” or “send your needs out into the world and it will deliver”. I’m all about personal responsibility – if something isn’t working for you then you need to do the hard yards, make some changes or sacrifices and change that shit! There is no higher power coming to bail me out and set me on my path to personal fulfilment!
What it means is that I have to consciously take control of where this work is taking me – and where it is not.
It means that I have to make some hard choices about where my time is best spent in order for my life to feel as though it makes sense.
It means I have to reflect on why I continue to take on more and more – how much of it is about me not being able to say no to fantastic ego building opportunities?
It means thinking about if my choices are geared towards things that come easily to me as opposed to spending time on things that might be more challenging at first but ultimately more enriching in the long term?
It means some thinking to be done and decisions to be made…
How about you? Do you find it easy to live according to your values or do things get in the way?