We’ve finally made it to the homeschool home stretch. It’s our last week. We did it. I can honestly say I’ve never been so happy for summer break before! In fact, last year at this time, I was worrying about how to balance my work and client commitments with my kids home from school for 3 whole months (different year, completely different perspective…).
Although our homeschool adventure is over (at least for now), I wouldn’t necessarily say it was an overwhelming success. We did what we needed to by focusing mostly on the minimum requirements. It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t without crying (by both the kids AND me). But it’s done.
I will not be winning any awards for this work. In fact, I don’t even think I’d win top homeschool teacher in our house! So let’s just move on, shall we?
Work can be like that sometimes. We give it our all, but it doesn’t end up being a success. We aren’t in the running for any awards or even a thank you from co-workers.
Sometimes, that’s because the work didn’t play to our strengths. Sometimes it’s circumstances outside our control (anyone ever built awesome software only to have it decommissioned a few months later when the company gets bought out? Or was that just me?). It’s the amazing report we share with the executive team, only to have it shelved for another time, which is usually code for NEVER! It’s the product we release with much fanfare… only to hear crickets chirping in response.
I learned a lot from my homeschool experience, similar to the times when I failed at work. The learnings can be awful, brutal, excruciating even, but they teach us as well (or better sometimes) than our success stories. Here’s the three things that I was reminded of during this experience. Sidebar, have you noticed that sometimes you’re re-learning a lesson you thought you knew? Apparently, I needed to be re-reminded of these lessons in a new context.
- Doing work aligned with your strengths is critical – there are roughly a kajillion reasons why I didn’t consider majoring in elementary education in college, but primarily because it’s not something I’m interested in or particularly skilled at. This homeschool experience reminded me yet again just how tough and misery-inducing work can be when it doesn’t align to your strengths. If that’s you right now at work, I’m sorry. It sucks. Know that your strengths are valuable, even if your present work conditions don’t see the value. And look for any opportunity you can to do work more aligned with your strengths.
- The learning curve is steep AND stressful – this is true for the things you’re excited to learn, but I found the curve to be steeper and WAY more stressful since it was a topic I wasn’t particularly keen on learning. I needed to step up my selfcare game significantly to help with the stress (running, using the familiar to find comfort, old things, etc.) in order to make it through. If you’re about to make a job change, plan ahead and know that you’re going to need more time for stress management.
- Always find something to celebrate – making it through to Friday felt like a major accomplishment most weeks and was worth celebrating. Pizza for dinner! There were enough other issues going on that we needed to find any win, no matter how small since it often felt disorganized and downright ugly, but hey, progress was the goal, not perfection. We’d ask what was working for the kids and try to lean into those things. We got VERY creative with schedules and tried things even if we didn’t think they’d work (because nothing could be worse than the first week!). If you’re on a tough project at work right now, the thing your team could use most is some celebration, no matter how seemingly small the win is. Those small celebrations make a big difference. If you’re having a hard time seeing all the little things that are awesome, then check out The Book of Awesome, which is sure to help you find something to appreciate no matter what!
I have no idea what the future holds, if or when I’ll be expected to homeschool again. I’ll be slightly more ready if there is a next time, but definitely won’t be holding any space on my trophy shelf for one of those homeschooler of the year awards. Better keep these lessons handy just in case!
#PositiveAction If you’re struggling with something at work, think about how you can apply a lesson you’ve already learned to make it better. We can’t always turn failure into success, but we can definitely improve on it!
Important Programming Note: With the shift into summer and school letting out for the year, the blog will be changing to new posts every other week instead of weekly. If you are missing your Work Authentically fix, you can get a more regular dose of inspiration when you follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.