3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Day
When my kids were little, one of my favorite things to do was to spend time with them in the evenings, during tuck-in time. We would often just sit on their beds or on the floor in their rooms and chat about our day, look forward to the next day, reflect on things we are grateful for, share a hug or a story. One particular evening, when my younger daughter was around eight, I was tucking her in when she asked me, “Mom, how was your day?” I thought about it for a moment. I had a really good day. I had taught a facilitation class that I really love. It had gone well and there was positive feedback from the participants. I felt pretty good about it. The drive home had been safe, and here I was enjoying my evening with her.
So, I said, “It was a good day! I enjoyed my class that I taught, it went well, and now I’m here with you! Thanks for asking Sophie!”
She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and then she said, “Mom, it probably was good ‘cause you’re pretty good at what you do, but we can all get even better, can’t we? Is there something that if you could do differently you would do even better next time?”
I’ll confess I was sort of unprepared to hear this question from an eight-year-old, but it is a pretty astute observation, isn’t it? We all have room to improve. We all have things to do even better next time. And, I think honestly that particular day I would have just carried on as usual. It was good! It was a good day! I had no complaints! But, when she challenged me to stop and think about what could have been done differently, I realized that, in fact, there was an activity in the class that was really noisy. It likely created chaos for some participants, and even though it was an activity I used regularly, I hadn’t figured out how to make that activity quieter yet still effective. I shared this with Sophie. She thought for a moment.
She responded, “Mom, well dad is pretty good at classroom management: he’s a teacher. Why don’t you ask him what he would do? I bet he’s got some great ideas.” And, without any more conversation on that topic, she just sort of rolled over and went to sleep.
That particular day has stuck with me for the longest time. She was right. I am married to a man who excels in classroom management and who is an excellent teacher. When prompted, I did go to him and got some suggestions to run it with a little less chaos for next time. And it worked! The next time I taught that activity, it was less noisy and less chaotic, but still effective. It was even better.
I wonder how often we try to just keep doing what we’re doing, instead of asking others for their advice or input or feedback. I wonder how often we close our eyes at the end of the day saying, “Today was good enough” without taking the time to reflect on how to be even better. That particular day I came away with a couple of things that have continued to be part of who I am and how I approach each day.
1. Reflect together.
I find that the discipline of reflecting on how things went can be more effective when we’re reflecting together. If I can replay a situation that two of us were in, I will not replay it in my own head and come to my own conclusions. Instead, I will replay it with you so that we can both benefit from the reflection.
2. Even better.
This phrase “even better” entered my vocabulary around that time if not before. In everything that I stop and reflect on, when I replay a class, or a moment, or an incident out loud or in my head, it is not to beat myself up, or to hold on to grudges, or to over inflate the success of the moment. Rather, it is to honestly reflect on what could be even better next time.
3. Invite Help.
Engage the people around you for help, and benefit from their insights. You've heard me say it before, we are better together. In isolation, each of us is limited to our own perspectives and our own angles and limited life journeys. But, together, we can benefit from the experiences we’ve each brought to the table. Once you’ve reflected on a moment and you’re willing to get even better next time, seek out help and ideas from others. We can share the insights and come away stronger, smarter, wiser, more capable, and more able to make a positive difference.
How about you? Do you have a moment? Is there something you still think about to this day because something or someone made an impact or an impression? We’d love to hear your stories! Share them with us!