Happy SLP? Yes, they are out there and you can be one too! It may seem a mystery as to how these particular professionals are so darn positive all the time. Their caseloads must different. They must have less paperwork. They must not do billing, or plan sessions, or test, or write reports… SPOILER ALERT…it’s none of these!
HAPPY SLPs MAKE A CHOICE TO BE POSITIVE
While it may seem some people are so positive and perky that they only logical explanation could be their coffee is spiked with rainbows, I can guarantee you that is not the case. They wake up and DECIDE it is going to be a good day. They make the choice to pick out the positive things going on and focus on those. They are not living life with rose colored glasses on and their heads in the sand, they know there are dark storm clouds out there, but they are not going to let that overpower their mindset!
So what can you do be positive?
- Surround yourself with other positive people. We know misery loves company, but misery can also suck the happy right out of you! Find some positive people at work to help boost your mood and shift your mindset.
- Keep a notebook by your bed, and each evening and morning, and write down something that made you happy or you are looking forward too.
- Try a meditation app that focuses on a positive mindset.
HAPPY SLPs ASK FOR HELP
A happy SLP is in-tune with his or her skills. They know where they shine and where they could use some polishing. They know that faking it is hard work and asking for help or clarification is faster and easier then stumbling around pretending you know what you’re doing.
Asking for help is a sign of strength and intelligence, not weakness.
Doing so doesn’t mean you cannot do your job effectively. Not at all! It shows that you are trying to be more efficient and are welcoming another perspective into the mix to help. Grad school kind of scared most of us out of asking or admitting we need a hand now and then, but we are in the real world now professors aren’t here 😉 Ask for help.
We may not be at Hogwarts ( wouldn’t it be amazing though! ) but to quote Albus Dumbledore, ” Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” I’m sure you can see his point.
HAPPY SLPs KNOW PERFECTION IS NOT REAL
The perfect room. The perfect lesson. Let me tell you a secret…THEY DON’T EXIST! A happy SLP knows this and knows that they can be on their game, have a well planned session, have nothing go right, and it is still a great day. They know to go with the flow. We see perfectly styled images on Instagram and Pinterest and feel this pressure to live up to this ‘standard’ we think exists. Yes, I may style and arrange some things in a picture on Instagram or Pinterest so you can see everything in a resource or show you how something can be used. Does that mean that is what it looks like in real life? HECK NO!
I had a fun crayon making activity laid out on my table, perfectly arranged in step by step order for me kids. It may have been Pinterest worthy for all of 5 seconds. The second my kids got in my room, they were touching the things on the table I had asked them not to touch and asking when they got to color as they fought over a green crayon when there were three more on the table. That is what life, and speech, looks like some days. A happy SLP knows that knows that picture perfect is probably not possible and that is ok.
HAPPY SLPs SET BOUNDARIES
Think of this as your personal space bubble, but for work. Happy SLPs know that there need to be limits. There are only so many hours in the day after all. They set boundaries and stick them. When 4pm hits, they close up shop and head out…without bringing work home! *gasp* They say ‘no’ to being on that new committee, working summer school, or going to that training because they know they don’t have time to make up the minutes they would miss. Here are some baby steps to setting limits:
- What are your ‘work’ hours? Set a ‘stop’ time for yourself and stick to it.
- When are available to talk shop? If teachers have questions, let them know you are always in your office from X to X to answer questions, rather than stopping you in the hall.
- Keep a list of must-do tasks and things that can wait. It is ok to stop working once the ‘must do’ items are done.
- If you are sick, don’t go into work. Pushing the health boundary is a line that best left uncrossed. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health over! That includes your mental health too.
HAPPY SLPs HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK
Yes, we may love our jobs. Some of us eat, sleep, and breathe speech. It sounds like the makings of a great professional, but it really isn’t healthy. When your work becomes your identity, how much of YOU is actually left? Answer…probably not much. If you take away all those letters after your name, what can you say about YOU? Happy SLPs know they can still love their jobs and have things to look forward to and hobbies to do that aren’t work related.
Going out with friends. Checking out that new restaurant with your significant other. Reading a new book. Attempting that project you saw on Pinterest ( and crossing your fingers that it doesn’t turn into a Pinterest Fail ). Even just planning on going to the park with your kids. The reason so many SLPs struggle to find that, oh so sought after, work/life balance is, they forget about the life part.
HAPPY SLPs STAY ORGANIZED
This is a tough one for lots of people, not just SLPs. With all the different paperwork we need to keep up with, i.e. billing, screening reports, testing reports, progress updates, data collection etc it can feel more like we are drowning in a sea of papers rather than casually floating on top.
So what can you do to get organized?
- Get an organizer. Either a paper planner or digitial app, but you need something to put in all of your ‘to – dos’
- Clean up your data collection. If you are feeling overwhelmed by counting tallies and calculating percentages then you will want to check out some of the digital data collections options out there, like the feature in SLP ToolKit. There are also lots of apps that have built in data collection too.
- Clear the clutter, literally. If you space is cluttered you are not going to be feel on top of your organization game. Toss old, outdated, rarely used materials.
- Designate a specific drawer or cabinet or folder for each time of ‘paperwork’ you complete.
HAPPY SLPs KNOW THEIR TIME IS IMPORTANT
Time is something we never seem to have enough of. Happy SLPs know how that working smarter is better than harder. They are not going to reinvent the wheel if they don’t have to. They are going to use little life hacks here and there to save some precious minutes. They are going to make time to eat lunch because nobody wants a ‘hangry’ SLP.
How can you save some minutes in your day?
- Recycle lessons. It is ok to do the same activity with the same targets again…and again. We are here to help support and grow speech and language skills and sometimes that means making speech and language to focus and not the game.
- Use Pinterest and blogs. You don’t need sit and create some ultra creative lesson from scratch! Look online for ideas and inspiration. Maybe you find a post with a great idea for a session. It is ok to do the exact session the post laid out.
- Make time to eat. Low blood sugar is no laughing matter…seriously it can make you really cranky.
- Make time to plan.
Two more things that help me are:
1. SMILE – it helps…. even if you’re not really feeling it, genuinely SMILE. The act of smiling releases endorphins and eventually lift you up!
2. Get some fresh air. This not only helps to clear your head, but also help to get some fresh O2, which in turn refuels your brain.
Awesome tips! Thank you so much for sharing.
Keep a folder on my desk for sticky note prayers on one side and praises on the other. When I feel overwhelmed, I take a few deep breaths and pray for strength but then pray others and count my blessings. Taking the focus off me helps me keep perspective and feel peace and encouragement!