This email was sent out from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity:
Finding Your P.E.A.C.E
As this term comes to a close, we find ourselves having lots of conversations about finding peace in the Academy. We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because so many people contact us with the same problem: they are passionate about their scholarship, but they are struggling to figure out how to be successful in the Ivory Tower. In other words, they love their work but find themselves working 60-80 hours a week without making progress on the very writing projects they love while sensing they are sacrificing their health and relationships in the process. Trying to figure out how to make it all work is a common struggle for new faculty, and determining if you want to make it work is a common question at every academic rank (from graduate student to endowed chairs). So, as we head into the holiday break, it’s a great time to take a step back and think about how you can find your peace in the Academy. Here’s our process and the great news is that it can be used over and over again whenever you feel like making a change in your life.
We’re using the acronym PEACE as a quick trick to help cement it in your brain.
Plan Your ________ (Semester, Term, Exit Strategy, Whatever)
The reason that planning is so important to finding your peace is because it forces you to ask and answer the hard questions: What do you want? How can you get it? When will you do the work that’s necessary to get what you want? What type of support and accountability will be required to make sure you actually implement your plan?
Experiment With Empirically-Tested Strategies
For most of us, the kind of changes that we would like to make in our lives have clear and well-studied paths. If you don’t know what they are and you’re short on time, find a way to learn them quickly (i.e, read a book, take a class, ask an expert). It really is quite simple. If you want more time, you have to spend less of it doing the things that don’t matter so you have more of it to do the things that do matter. If you’re a regular Monday Motivator reader, you know some of the strategies already: 1) The Weekly Meeting, 2) a daily writing practice, 3) tracking your time, and 4) holding yourself accountable on a regular basis. We’ve also covered a number of these strategies in our monthly core curriculum webinars, but there’s a difference between KNOWING them and DOING them. So, when we say “experiment,” we mean learning the best practices (that’s the easy part) and then actually doing them (that’s where it gets difficult).
Analyze The Changes You Make
Whenever you try a behavioral experiment, you will have several weeks’ worth of data to analyze. If you want greater writing productivity, then ask yourself: Did writing every day for four weeks provide a different outcome than my regular binge-and-bust behavior? If you want more time, then experiment by having a Weekly Meeting for four weeks straight and then ask yourself: Have the weeks where I have a plan been better than the weeks without one? If you can’t figure out where your time goes, track your time and analyze the data by asking: Is my time in alignment with my values? It doesn’t matter what your criteria for success is; just be sure to track your progress and then pause after a few weeks and analyze the data.
Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs
Whenever we change our behavior, all of our stuff comes to the surface. That’s great! You want that stuff right out in the open so you can see what assumptions, beliefs, or expectations are holding you back. Each of us has to learn to challenge our limiting beliefs, such as: “I can’t write in the morning because I’m not a morning person,” “I can’t write every day because I couldn’t possibly get anything meaningful done in 30 minutes,” or “I can’t write during my workday because taking time to write is selfish.” New behaviors have a wonderful way of bringing such beliefs to the surface, but the real work is holding those beliefs up to the light of day and asking: Is this true? Does this make sense for where I am today and where I want to go in the future? Can I change? And do I want/need to change?
Establish A Support Network
None of us have to evolve alone! It doesn’t matter to us what type of supportive community you create or tap into, but there are three things we know for sure: 1) there’s power and wisdom in collectives; 2) most people thrive and grow in the context of mutual support, and 3) structured accountability can help you to make change faster than almost anything else. Of course, we think our Faculty Success Program is the best supportive community around, but we’re a bit biased! There are plenty of ways to create the support you need on your own campus, in your local area, or online. Click here for some ideas.
SUNY New Paltz is an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), which has many opportunities for learning and professional development. If you have not done opened an individual account, you can do so by completing a few simple steps, starting on NCFDD’s membership page.