How Repeating a Phrase Changes Everything
Have you ever felt far away from where you imagined you would be at a certain point?
I have. It can be tough to see the gap between where you are and your future goal. I love setting really big goals, but there are times when the results seem to take longer than planned. I have felt like an imposter, struggled from the fallout of unmet goals, and been embarrassed to let the world see a less than perfect story. Savoring the mindset and mantra, ¨You are doing better than you think¨, has a way of reprogramming negative thoughts and has given me a chance to regain momentum for life.
Feeling Like an Imposter
It is not uncommon to feel like an imposter at some point in life. When a new challenge is in front of you, it is human to believe that you have stepped into a role that you are not qualified for. However, success comes with starting before you are ready. The thought of trying something and not being sure of how it will turn out can be terrifying, which is why it's important to have a “go-to” mantra in place. What if when you felt defeated you told yourself, ¨You are doing better than you think¨ even if you might not feel like it is true in the moment, eventually it might.
I used to be worried when I talked about books with colleagues. I used to feel like an imposter at times. While I read a lot, conversations about classics and which ones should be taught always seem to come up. When people name drop different authors and titles, moments of feeling inadequately prepared to be in a profession have surfaced. It is true that some teachers have read more than me, or differently. I have also realized that the path I have taken as educator is somewhat based on what my schools decided we should focus on. Even if I have not read the same books as a colleague, I can still be doing better than I think. Rather than holding a scarcity mindset, I can focus not on what I am lacking, but the idea that I have read a lot, am still reading and can quickly learn new content. If I tell myself that I am doing better than I think because of the learning potential I have, confidence can be quickly regained.
Dealing with Unmet Goals
Frustration, burnout and apathy can be the result of unmet goals.
What if we are not meant to achieve every goal?
Goals are tricky. I often find that three months into a new year, I have revised and even abandoned a few goals I had set only a few months prior. I value setting goals because it is a great starting point. But, because the future is unknown and it is not possible to know the just right goal to set all the time. What if the goal is more about the process and who we become rather than the overall result? If you feel like you are about to abandon a goal because results are not happening quickly enough, repeating the phrase, “You are doing better than you think” might just be enough to get yourself to the next level, or have more information to decide if abandoning a goal is the right move.
How is everyone else really doing?
The comparison trap is real. One thing I struggle with is comparing myself in one area to where another person seems to be succeeding. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a childhood friend who is a successful doctor. I was curious about her experience in choosing medical schools, so I asked her a few questions. Much to my surprise, she told me that she was waitlisted initially for medical school. Apparently, early in the process it is pretty common to be on a waitlist. I never knew that she had a month between graduation and being accepted into medical school where she was unsure of the school she would be at. This conversation reminded me that, while I thought I knew the whole story, and her story was seamless, she also dealt with uncertainty.
Because of a Teacher Volume II a book compiled by George Couros shares the early stories from well known successful leaders in education. Most of the time we see a person’s story unfold in the current time and are unable to know what happened in the beginning. Every now and then a master educator will share vulnerability and give readers a front row seat to his or her growth. It is through these stories that we realize that we are probably doing better than we thought.
Applying This To The Classroom
Once we realize that there is evidence to support that we are doing better than we think, it's time to apply this concept to help students. What if we frequently reminded students that they are doing better than they think? What if we helped students pile up experiences that contribute to building a mindset of embracing the journey, and ultimately realizing it is not the destination they are after but what was gained along the way.
In her book, Tech with Heart author Stacy Roshan explains her focus as an educator is to deliver advanced content while helping students build confidence and remove some of their fears and anxiety. Her book delivers several actionable ways to help students realize that they are doing better than they think.
Roshan highlights a quote that says, “When you remove the fear of failure, impossible things suddenly become possible. (Regina Dugan)
Live Deep Enough
If you live deep enough, there will be times when goals are not met, moments when imposter syndrome feels strong, and experiences where it seems like you are way behind other people. Start out by reminding yourself that you are doing better than you think, and look for evidence to support your growth and progress. Don't always compare yourself to high points in earlier years, but rather measure how far you have come in the last year, month or few days.
Continue Building Your Impossible. You are doing better than you think.