I just celebrated my work anniversary on March first! Although this list of broad list of goals is not new, I wanted to put them down in writing.
- Be mindful.
- Be prepared.
- Be intentional.
- Clearly communicate emotions.
- Keep striving for high ideals.
Be mindful. An established definition of mindfulness comes from John Kabat-Zinn: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. Employers have been encouraged to offer mindfulness exercises through worksite wellness programs as one way to reduce absences and increase productivity among staff. In addition, there are personal benefits to practicing mindfulness. The Extension employee who practices mindfulness is better prepared to react in a positive way to daily changes and challenges on the job as well as to boost the enjoyment of the successes and highlights of their career.
“The practice of mindfulness will help you handle daily changes and challenges”…. and boost the enjoyment of the successes and highlights! I use mindfulness to help remind myself to breathe, focus, increase gratitude, decrease judgments and work from an asset based approach.
Be prepared. I know this sounds like the Scouts motto but it’s a good goal for Extension staff. Although flexibility is important for an Extension Educator, flexibility is a great second step to a well-prepared program. In addition, I have learned from previous colleagues that “unprep” time is just as important as “prep” time for classes. It takes time to unpack bags, restock handouts, input evaluations and return emails to participants about questions not answered during class. I’m not very good at scheduling unprep time.
Plan the work. Work the plan. ~ Paraphrased from Margaret Thatcher
Be intentional. First, be intentional with words, especially in public settings. Don’t default to acronyms or people’s first names when anyone in the group might be struggling to keep up with the information. Make it easy to follow up with contact information, links to specific articles or research. In addition to being intentional with words, adopt the five elements of brave space: Controversy with civility, Own your intentions and your impact, Challenge by choice, Respect and No attacks (Aroa & Clemens, 2013).
The National Council on Family Relations listed skills and knowledge needed for healthy family functioning. They are also valuable in the workplace:
- strong communication skills
- knowledge of typical human development
- good decision-making skills, positive self-esteem
- healthy interpersonal relationships
I benefit from the work of my professional organizations and continued professional development. I use what I learn to strengthen my work. In 2020 when information is all around us, 24/7, I need to be intentional to take the time to read and use the information from my professional organizations and colleagues. As a Certified Family Life Educator, I am intentional about using an educational, preventative and strengths-based approach to support and empower individuals and families.
Clearly communicate emotions. This summary is from Understanding Your Emotions for Teen Health: “All emotions tell us something about ourselves and our situation. But sometimes we find it hard to accept what we feel. We might judge ourselves for feeling a certain way, like if we feel jealous, for example. But instead of thinking we shouldn’t feel that way, it’s better to notice how we actually feel.” Emotions, whether we label them as good or bad, are part of the human experience.
One we notice how we actually feel, it can be challenging to share with others, especially when experiencing strong emotions. The following description and example is taken from Manage Your Money, Ohio State University Extension, Lesson One: The Three Parts of an I-Message
- “I feel …” Make a clear statement of how you feel. (note, name your emotion, not what you are thinking)
- “When (this happens) …” Name specific behavior that caused you to feel that way.
- “Because …” Say why the behavior or event is upsetting.
Instead of a “you-message” that tends to reflect blame and criticism, the “I-Messages” focus on specific examples. Instead of: “You never record the amounts of checks you write.” Try this: “I feel frustrated when we have to pay an overdraft fee from our checking account when [because] we don’t have enough money to cover the automatic bill payment for the utility company.” (Manage Your Money)
I would like to add an additional statement and reminder.
Additional Statement: Feel free to add a fourth statement after the three part I-Message: “What I need is …” State what you need.
Reminder: Although this is a helpful communication framework to use when upset, it can also be used for positive feelings or emotions. For example, “I feel optimistic for our statewide FCS program when I hear about the good work and programs that my FCS county colleagues are offering across the state because it gives me inspiration. What I need is to keep up communication on this type of information on a regular basis.”
Keep striving for high ideals.
“I believe in my own work and in the opportunity I have to make my life useful to humanity. Because I believe these things, I am an Extension professional”. Extension Professional’s Creed
“I accept the opportunity to empower individuals, families and communities to meet their needs and goals through a learning partnership”. The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Creed.
“Keep interest in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time… Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind to you what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism …” from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927).
Keep striving for high ideals. And surround yourself with heroes.