We don’t usually talk this way. But what constitutes your “healthiest self”? My husband has challenged me lately to think about hard-but-necessary things in a different light. Especially when it comes to exercise. I can get up in the morning and tell myself I need to work out. OR I can get up in the morning and tell myself I’m choosing to be the healthiest version of myself I can possibly be today. The first option? I might drag myself out of bed in time to move a bit. The second option doesn’t have me questioning the workout for even a moment. I’m up earlier and focused on making it fit into my day. Because today I choose to be healthy.
This has been changing how I work through my day over the past few months. I have several demands on me right now that often make life feel frantic in ways I’ve never experienced before. My checklist now includes things such as reading my Bible and spending undistracted time with Jesus, exercise, pleasure reading, extended periods of stretching (ROMWOD is great!), practicing piano (not just fiddling around the few minutes I have), drinking lots of water, taking vitamins, etc. Some come easily to me, some may seem silly, and some will only be done a few minutes every other day. But if I want to be the healthiest version of myself I can possibly be, I will work to make all of these things happen as many days as possible – either because I enjoy them or because I know the health benefits will far outweigh the time of fitting them in.
Now at this point, you’re asking what this has to do with piano teaching. And I would say it has a whole lot to do with it! First of all, remember that attitude is everything. If I tell my students they have to practice, they will likely approach it as I approached the workout. It feels like a duty. But if I encourage them to practice because I want them to become pianists, suddenly there is a larger goal that can translate from duty into delight. Practicing becomes much more exciting when the goal is to be a pianist rather than just to practice for x minutes today!
Now as for us as teachers, please remember that teaching piano is an incredible gift that has given us the opportunity to invest in the lives of each student who walks through our door. I can choose to be my healthiest self and to maximize each moment spent with each student. The alternative? I choose to be stressed, distracted, and end up giving my student the leftovers of a very full and busy life. I can guarantee that your piano parents do not want to pay for that part of you, and you will be missing sacred opportunities to love others well.
Will your list look the same as mine? Probably not. What makes you tick is likely completely different from my list. You may be living in a completely different stage of life than I am living. This is simply a list of things that grow me as a person, and that often get overlooked if I’m not intentional. (The list of things I do in regular life to stay sane is much longer, I assure you!). But just as we want to be the best citizens, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, friends, etc. that we can be, we should want to be the best teachers! As we pour out ourselves for the betterment of our students, please make sure to take the time to be your healthiest self … for the sake of everyone around you!
In this season of New Year’s resolutions … consider ditching the goals that last mere days. Looking at the bigger picture may be the better way to transform your life this year.