Over the past few weeks I have undergone a pretty radical change in my mindset, and I suspect this change might be permanent.

So how did I get to this point?

Well I need to go back to the start to explain how.

In the beginning of the year I started to track my thoughts and I wrote down what I was thinking. After I had put pen to paper, I came to the realisation that my thoughts focused on the things that I couldn’t control and that they were largely negative. This realisation was also combined with another thought that I had been dwelling on. Since hitting my mid-30s, I have become acutely aware of the passage of time.

Surely life isn’t just a massive grind before our final breath?

So my wife and I decided to do something different. We decided to pursue the things that captured our interests as opposed to what is expected of us. People would say things like “Matthew, you need to become a deputy principal,” & “Alexandra, you need to finish university and become a teacher.” These things weren’t making us happy, so we took a different path. 

For me this included:

  • Mastering the use of social media

  • Writing a blog once a week

  • And more recently, making TPT resources (posters, worksheets)

For her this included:

  • Writing a book, which means that she is putting university on hold for six months

I haven’t accumulated a large number of followers (just under 2,500), I haven’t quite kept up with my #weeklyblogchallenge and my resources, while good, have only sold five copies, but you know what.

The journey counts more than the destination.

I have immensely enjoyed the journey that these goals have taken me on. I have learnt a myriad of new skills; my professional learning network has expanded enormously, and I just might be the happiest I’ve ever been.

So here are ‘3 Strategies to Help Get into a Great Mindset’.

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Gratitude

In 2016 I was unsuccessful with the first stage of the Level 3 Classroom Teacher (L3CT) accreditation process. It’s like becoming a lead teacher/head teacher. Looking back with the gift of hindsight, I realise that I was probably completing the L3CT accreditation process with the wrong mindset. My third child was about to come into this world which meant that money became more of a priority for me. This of course, is an understandable flaw. Who doesn’t want to provide for their children?

Having been through this gruelling process, I’ve realised that ‘money is a poor motivator’.

I thought that my ‘money problems’ would be fixed by achieving this goal and I had gotten the idea into my head that ‘I’ll be happy when [insert goal/idea here]’. Here are a couple of things I’ve told myself over the years:

  • I’ll be happy when [I GRADUATE FROM UNIVERSITY]

  • I’ll be happy when [I GET A PERMANENT JOB]

  • I’ll be happy when [I EARN MY L3CT PROMOTION]

Here’s the thing, at one point in time I wanted to be where I am right now. I was after the permanent job, I wanted to get married and I wanted children etc. I’m sure a lot of people reading this blog are also in the ‘I’ll be happy when mindset’.

Which brings me back to the word gratitude. One of the best things I’ve done this year was to write a ‘gratitude list’ about all the things that I currently have in my life right now. I wrote down an extensive list of everything that came to mind and then organised them into the following categories:

  • Self

  • Family

  • Health

  • Work

  • Lifestyle

I’ve been adding to this list since I started it three weeks ago and I’ve made sure to read it every day. The effect it has had on my mindset and my feelings is noticeable. I have felt happier, my wife has noticed that ‘emo Matt’ is no longer present and my colleagues have also noticed that my general demeanor has changed.

Right now I have never felt more on top of my game as a teacher and practicing gratitude has played a large role in this outcome.   

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Creating more than you consume

Another key factor that has significantly contributed to my improved mindset is this. I am creating more than I am consuming. Since the start of this year I have been creating:

All of this content hasn’t just come to me over night. It has taken a lot of ‘figuring out’ to find my niche but also with the marketing of my content. When I was teaching myself about marketing I came across Vanessa Lau, Kerwin Rae, Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel and many others. Their marketing content is amazing and they will also help with your mindset too.

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As I mentioned in my introduction, I have enjoyed the journey that these goals have taken me on and the challenges they have provided me with. Here are a range of new skills/outcomes I’ve learnt/achieved as a result of this change:

  • Improved the quality of my writing and the quality of my blogs (check out my first blog and compare it with this one)

  • Learnt how to use MS PowerPoint to create resources

  • Accumulated a great range of commercial resources for TPT creators

  • I’ve improved the look of my classroom by using my own TPT posters and by using a range of Google Fonts to improve the look of my everyday worksheets that I create

  • Learnt how to market myself better to a wider audience (using thumbnails, hashtags in social media, when to post etc)

  • Learnt how to create engaging social media posts; I’ve then applied these skills to my school’s Facebook page to generate more interest (and income) for our school camp fundraiser this year

  • I’ve expanded my professional learning network

  • I’ve deeply reflected on my teaching pedagogy

When looking back at these outcomes, it reminds me of the following saying in the picture below.

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I could have invested my time into watching Netflix; however, I wouldn’t have achieved even a ¼ of the outcomes I mentioned above.

And that, to me, is a waste of time!

 

Pursuing what you want to do

This year I ruled out one career option that I was seriously considering for the last two years. I ruled out the career pathway of deputy principal. I was offered a two week stint in the office twice this year. The first offer I accepted but had to turn down due to a family emergency and the other offer I recently declined.

When the 2nd offer of a 2 week stint in the office was put to me, I was uncertain about whether I should accept it or not. I gave myself three days to make a decision and wrote down a rather large list of pros and cons. The point I gave the most thought to was opportunity cost, which is the loss of other alternatives as a result of making a choice. While the extra income would have been great, I couldn’t get pass the time I would lose being in the role of deputy. There were three cons I considered as non-negotiable:

  • I would have less time for pursuing my goals

  • I would have to give yet another part of myself to the teaching profession

  • I would be depriving my wife of time to pursue her own goals since I would be placing an even larger proportion of parenting upon her.

I have established ‘content creation’ as a habit and I don’t want that to stop. I regularly wake up at 4:00am to write, create resources and to network across a wide variety of social media platforms. I don’t want to be ringing and organising relief teachers at 5:30am when I could be focusing on what I love.

 

Final thoughts

This year has been a life changing year for me. I don’t want to go back to the way I was with my previous mindset and where I was investing my time. If you’ve been thinking about pursuing what you want to do, like pottery classes or learning a new language, then I suggest that you go ahead and do it.

We only have one life to live so you may as well make the most of it.


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