“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time.
Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
—M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled
February is a month filled with candy, flowers, hearts, and cards for those we love. But what about directing some of your positive energy inward, thinking about and taking care of ourselves in the same way we care for others.
The Self Pep Talk
We’ve all been there: a friend or family member comes to you, feeling down on themselves and you are able to flip those emotions around, turning negative feeling over to more positive thoughts. While we might be skilled at helping others work through negative emotions, many of us are unable to do the same for ourselves.
Tic-Toc Thoughts is one of the key exercises in our Performance Prep program, which delivers techniques and tools to help students manage anxiety and build confidence during the high-stakes standardized testing process and beyond. “Tics” are the negative thoughts that can feel so powerful in the moment. Our goal is to replace the “tics” with “tocs,” positive and useful thoughts to redirect your emotions. As with any new technique, it is critical to be patient and recognize it might take time to experience change.
Celebrating Small Successes
In moments when we are seeking to create positive change, it can be so challenging to feel successful when the change does not happen as quickly as we desire. Consider reframing your definition of success by breaking your task down into smaller steps. We know that planning and prioritization are essential for academic success, which is why we teach our children to break down large projects into mini-steps. The same process—including celebrations of small accomplishments on the way to big change—brings value to emotional work. When we keep the focus only on the end goal, we end up diminishing our motivation, and motivation is what keeps us on the right path and gives us the strength to soldier on. The feeling of pride in these small celebrations creates the happiness factor that makes us want to go further towards our next achievement.
A key skill of successful people is goal-directed persistence: moving forward despite difficulties and, in fact, knowing that anything worth doing will require effort. Celebrating smaller successes may motivate you to continue on your way to a larger end goal, but it might not be beneficial for daily tasks such as homework and chores. It is first important to remember that we might not be intrinsically motivated to do tasks we find unpleasant and might need to seek an extrinsic motivator to get the task done. Being honest with ourselves about the support we need to put in place in order to move toward our goals sets us up for success even when we’re not excited about specific tasks.
Remember there is a difference between a “bribe” and an “external reward.” Parenting experts and educators suggest creating a list of reasonable rewards that are of interest to your child but also fall under “reward.” For example, “Do your test prep homework and we can go to Disneyland” versus “Do your test prep homework for the week and we can go out to your favorite ice cream shop.” The small reward can often teach students to set up self-reward systems to drive intrinsically based motivation to complete non-preferred tasks. Another key: rewards are not acts of desperation, but rather a purposeful part of a plan for achievement.
Our Performance Prep program encourages students to practice self-care and mindfulness throughout their educational journey and our Academic Skills coaches help students create personalized routines and systems for success. To learn more about our Performance Prep or Academic Skills offerings, contact us.