Lately I have been working hard to finish my end-of-course proyect. I am finally finishing my engineering degree, and, after all the hard work I have put in through the years of studying and working very very hard, all I had to do was finish that proyect. But I felt I could do no more.
That´s right, just as I was reaching the goal I set myself after high school, I was looking for ways out, watching too much TV, surking the net for hours, and, generally, not doing ANY work.
However, this mini-break from school work wasn´t happy or relaxing. It was right down depressing. I felt like a failure, like I hadn´t learnt anything at all at university, like I had just wasted my time and energy. And then I was asked to look after my nephew and niece while their parents went to a wedding and my whole point of view was suddenly and irreversibly changed.
If you have been around young kids for any amount of time, you know how hard learning is for them, and how much you want to celebrate their every little success. Learning to walk takes years, as does learing how to talk in a way others can understand you. Putting the right shaped piece in the right shaped hole, peeing and pooping where they should, singing a song. All their achievements are a source of happiness and, yes, much clapping.
It got me thinking, that maybe the way I was treating myself was all wrong. I was all work, no play and no celebration of my acomplishments. I hadn´t clapped, I hadn´t cheered, I just plowed on through sheer will power. I needed to treat myself like I treat my nephew and my niece and here is what I did:
- Be kind to yourself when you don´t get it right: learning takes time and practice. Failing the fisrt few times you do things is not failure unless you quit.
- Quitting is not an option: if you keep at it, you will be able to accomplish most of the things you have set you mind to.
- Make change in small slow steps: little kids can´t walk too fast but they do get to where they´re going in the end. Just never lose sight of whatever you are trying to achieve.
- Make things fun: children don´t like to do boring things and neither do adults. Doing things out of a sense of responsibility is all fine and good, but if you don´t make the effort to make them fun, you will inevitably quit. An then you will feel like a quitter.
- Cut down television hours: your parents didn´t let you lounge in front of the dumb box for hours for a good reason. Go outside and play, paint, sing or do whatever you feel will make you happy.
- Reward yourself: keep the promises you make yourself and give yourself a break. Give yourself an applause, do a happy dance.
- Tell yourself you are smart: over and over until it sinks in. Because you really are.
P.S. These tips work for getting kids to do things as well!