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Don’t forget to feel.

Have I mentioned before that one of my heroes is the poet Mary Oliver? Probably. She’s the salty, New England-y, fairy godmother of my dreams. I heard her in a rare interview once say,

“Attention without feeling is just a report.” Students will talk about focus when it comes to homework and studying as if it’s a big, heavy weight; they will just have to force themselves to heft over to what they are doing and plop it down on it. Maybe it’s even like one of those weighted balls and it keeps rolling away. It reminds me of Mary Oliver’s quote because it’s like it’s a boring, heavy report – something you need to satisfy some requirement, but not something you actually enjoy. Here are two simple and quick strategies hot off the press from my sessions this week to connect attention with a feeling so that feels more like a fun, handy power tool than a weight you have to drag around. I hope it gives you something to try with your student or yourself to fuel your movement in the direction of your goals:

STOP a process developed by mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat Zinn. I sort of melded it with some things I learned from Peak Mind when we got to the O part. I talked the student through using his attention like a flashlight and shining it on different parts of his body from his toes up to the crown of his head to just observe his senses and physical body in the here and now. If his flashlight started shining on something else, just notice it and bring it back to the body scan. It worked! He said he was going to use “that flashlight thing” this week when he started feeling impatient with his math homework and tempted to just rush it to get it done.

This next one is about goals. Here is the conclusion I’ve come to about goal setting lately. 1) It really doesn’t matter if they are short-term or long-term or some combo of both. Just that you give yourself the time to disrupt the autopilot pattern to think about what you want to do, be, and have, more of in your life. 2) Make them visual. Write them out somewhere you will see it/them often. 3) Connect them with a feeling. How will you feel when it’s achieved? Can you find that feeling in yourself right now? What are 3 small possible actions this week to feel more like that? 4) The formula. I’m not usually a fan of formulas because I think there are always a ton of ways to get something right, but this one seems to work really well for me and my students: So that I can (thing you want to do, be, or have), I will (habit). When I went through this process and asked my client about how he’d feel about achieving his goal at the end of the month, he said, “I’d feel in sync with my day-to-day, happier. Actually, that’s sort of how I’ve been feeling lately since we started making the schedule in my planner to follow.” Coaching session gold! It tells me he’s in the zone. The place where you already feel like you’ve achieved the goal because you’re taking those small steps in the process to get there. That then gives you more energy and motivation to take more steps and to make better decisions because that goal-feeling can override the way our brains are naturally prone to distraction and resistance to change.

If you are into this place where school strategies meet effective mindsets for success and happiness, I know you’ll like the Better Plan 21-Day Challenge. You still have 7 days to be one of the early birds who are getting it for only $26 before I take it down to give my attention to some other projects. It’s full of step-by-step strategies for organization, planning, and motivation in an easy-to-implement daily format so students can start to align small, daily actions with more success and happiness with school work. You can find out more about it by clicking here. Can’t wait for you to try it, share it, and tell me how it worked for you!

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