The quest for balance is never far from my mind. Like many educators I’m constantly struggling to balance my work demands, home life, and healthy routines. I am keenly aware of when I am out of balance. It usually shows up physically as fatigue or weight gain, or emotionally as dissatisfaction, guilt, or frustration. When I wrote the post, “The Run/Walk Interval,” I appreciated the struggle I was having and recognized that that weekend I was taking a “walk break” so that I could “run” with the demands of the work. Throughout these first days as a new principal I recognized and appreciated that my work would need the most weight initially, but I missed a key part of my balance: the fulcrum. There is attention that needs to be paid to my center or fulcrum so that I am better able to discern when to stop and start the running and walking parts of the interval.
For me, my spiritual life is at my center. It’s the fulcrum upon which all the demands of my life balance. When I am not giving the proper attention to that which grounds me, I don’t have the proper perspective needed to make wise decisions, nor do I have the stamina to do what is needed to run effectively. I realized this week that I have seen the routines related to my spiritual life as just another set of obligations that demand my attention. When, at different times of my life these routines are put first, the other demands or weights tend to balance themselves much more easily. I also find that I am better able to manage the work itself. On the other hand, when I don’t ground myself in my spiritual practices, then I spend way too much time working and am not as effective in that time.
I knew as a principal that there would be days when I would need to give more time to management responsibilities than instructional leadership. What I did not fully realize or appreciate was the impact these days would have on my stress level. I am beginning to realize that when I have a week when I give a lot of time to work, but feel like I have made positive impact on learning, I don’t feel negative consequences of stress. I feel a sense of satisfaction. Weeks when I don’t feel like I have moved the ball much instructionally because I have had to focus mainly on management issues, I don’t come away with a sense of satisfaction. Instead, I feel drained and can feel defeated. This past week I was there. I didn’t have any resources to draw from. I probably got more sleep this week than I have any week this month, yet I felt exhausted everyday. My stress was managed unsuccessfully and I left feeling ineffective.
Fortunately, I have a new week–a chance to start over with a fresh focus and plan for implementing new routines. These routines will be aimed at my fulcrum. I will wake up 15 minutes earlier to read a daily devotional and end each day with reflection, meditation and prayer. It will be interesting to see the impact of these routines no matter what kind of week I have. It will be interesting to see what happens when I focus on the fulcrum.