What Are You Looking Forward to?


The other night as I sat surrounded by papers at my dining room table, I looked up at my husband as he walked through the room.  "I don't have anything that I'm looking forward to," I said.

Of course, I was looking forward to finish grading the stack of essays that I was working on, just like I had been looking forward to finish grading the stack of speeches I had been working on before that.  But these aren't real things you legitimately look forward to.  They're simply tasks that must get completed, so you can move onto the next tasks that must get completed.
   
Because I'm rationale like this, the next thing I said to my husband was, "I think I need Skittles."  (Because, clearly, when you're having an existential crisis about purpose and work-life balance, Skittles always help.  They really do.)

Joel got me Skittles, and I continued to plow through my grading.  But, in the recesses of my thoughts, I dwelt on the fact that I wasn't looking forward to anything.  I hadn't meant to blurt out that sentence, but I did.  It made me pause.  It's healthy to look forward the future.  When you're looking forward to something, you're invigorated and energized.  You have more accurate scope and perspective.

So, I made a point to document several measurable things that I can look forward to.  They're small items, like planning what I'll do the afternoon before Thanksgiving break when my kids will still be in school, but I'll be free to leave campus early.  (I'm going to have an afternoon to myself!  I can spend those hours however I want!  See?  The anticipation is already building.  It feels so healthy.)

Today, I asked my students what they're most looking forward to over their own Thanksgiving breaks.  One by one they offered responses: seeing family, reuniting with a beloved pet, eating their mom's stuffing, sleeping in their own bed, going shopping on Black Friday with a friend, or showering without having to wear flip flops in a communal dorm bathroom.

With each response, more smiles, nods, and laughter emerged from around the room.  (My students are in tunnel vision, too, after all.  This little conversation helped us all.)

Sometimes, we simply need to step back and change our view.  I can't change the fact that my work load is intense at this point in the semester; it's par for the course in academia.  But I can choose how I adjust my vision.

Look up.  Look ahead.  There's much to look forward to.   
  

Image compliments of ThomThom.net

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2 comments

  1. I needed this today, and I didn't even realize it. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Maggie. I imagine that you're experiencing some "tunnel vision" with your semester, too. Hang in there!

      And thanks for your kind comment. It encouraged me today.

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