Note your victories

I’ve given quite a few presentations these last couple of weeks – all to university students (as part of my job). 

A consistent suggestion I’ve given in those presentations is to document one’s victories as a mild antidote against the common tendency to focus on one’s failings. 

So I thought I’d try and do that today. 

Here is what I think have gone right for me the last couple of weeks, that involved at least some kind of effort on my part. 

Feel free to try this yourselves. Not necessary to write them down. Even just running through them in your head is OK. 

The presentations themselves

As far as lectures and presentations go, I have managed these last couple of weeks to get the right balance between extensive unsustainable levels of preparation and the casual ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. Head too far in the preparation direction and you include too much information, presented robotically. Head too far in the ‘she’ll be right’ direction and you come across as arrogant and blase and uninformed. 

Feedback from the presentations I’ve given suggest I am currently at about the right balance between these. And I feel relatively relaxed whilst presenting, but also feel there is legitimate content in what I am presenting (and feel the pressure to present those well)

I have also been experimenting with using far fewer slides and instead providing attendees with talk notes (see example here). These notes are my talk narrative and preparing them helps me work out what I am going to say but also provides attendees with a detailed record of key themes/topics/links/research etc. I plan to stick with this method. I particularly like the extra eye contact I create with an audience when I am not using many slides.

Seeing the bigger picture

I’ve spent the last few years creating quite a few resources (blog, newsletter, guides, programs, lectures etc) and was beginning to get to a point where it was difficult to keep all of them fresh and up-to-date. 

Following a good supervisory session, I was able to see a bigger picture project that could roll many of these together, in a way that should serve students better, but also help me manage them all. I’m seeking feedback on my solution from a number of colleagues at the moment (which is also growth for me) and hope to action this new project soon. 

This also represents good growth for me, because rather than use ‘overwork’ like a martyr, I am trying to actively solve the overwork problem. 

Letting go

I talk a lot about habits with students and not wanting to be a hypocrite, work hard to try and build good habits myself. One flaw in my method though was the belief that only rigid adherence to a habit schedule is acceptable. Since letting go and accepting that habits have lulls and peaks, I have paradoxically been better at sustaining regular activities like yoga, meditation, weight training and art.  

I try to think in time frames of weeks and fortnights now, rather than days, which means as long as I get a few episodes of each in during the week/fortnight, then I am happy, rather than expecting to follow-through on each of them on a daily basis. I have tried to dial back unreasonable expectations and instead attach myself more willingly to the natural ebbs and flows of activity. 

Professional development

I am simply going to watch all of this guy’s videos –

But rather than just consume, I try to take 1 or 2 points from each of his videos and build it into a presentation, lecture, guide, blog post, program or resource that I maintain. This helps satisfy the need for professional development to positively influence my practice, but also reduces the stress associated with feeling like I should action every single thing I learn in his videos. This is a bit like ‘letting go’ with the habits, where the relaxed approach ends up being more productive. 

There have been other victories (and failures) over the last couple of weeks, but these are a few of the bigger ones for me. 

I share them not because I think my victories necessarily have much value to you, the reader (although they might touch on relevant themes in your own life), but rather that you may be prompted to reflect on some of your own victories. 

I’m sure you’ve had some. And spending a little time focusing on those that were at least partly created by your own efforts, helps you add a few items to your competence and autonomy lists, and focus less on your mistakes and failures lists.

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