Battling Burnout with Valarie Alexander
Author: Leader in Me
July 13, 2021
Read this exclusive conversation with Valerie Alexander. Learn more about Valarie during her podcast interview on Change Starts Here. WATCH HERE
Dustin Odham: Right now, a lot of educators are battling burnout and fatigue. And it’s the summertime and I want to recharge. I want to get happy. If I’m not there, I want to get there. If I’m already there, I want to figure out how to stay there. I need to fill my bucket so I can get back and really give to my kids and my district and my families. What’s the best piece of advice you have right now to help me and other educators do that this summer?
Valerie Alexander: Find what you love, find what fulfills you, and carve out the time that is immutable and unchangeable. You are not allowing anyone to invade that time. Think of it, I always say think of it like a doctor’s appointment. And you can even lie and say it’s a doctor’s appointment.
If you have something, if, like, I don’t know, you love bowling. Like, you get your joy from just going bowling, even if you go by yourself, it doesn’t even matter. You say, “All right, I need three hours twice a week to go bowling.” You know this, so Tuesday nights and Thursday nights, right? Then if somebody calls or you find yourself working late, force yourself to think of it like a doctor’s appointment. Like, “I have a doctor’s appointment at five o’clock on Tuesday.” And if you think of your time like that, then go bowling and release your brain from anything else you’re supposed to be focusing on. Find that thing and then reinforce the belief that that is giving you joy and that you deserve it and that it’s making the world a better place.
Recently, I discovered I was working on weekends too much. I run a company, and I have, you know, employees under me, and I noticed I was just working 24/7 and especially Saturday and Sunday. And I kept telling myself, “I need to be either taking Saturday or Sunday off.” And I couldn’t make it happen, and so I finally realized, okay, take Thursday off. And I told everyone. All my employees know Thursday is my sacred day off. And yesterday was Thursday for me, so I went to a waterpark.
Then I went and met a friend for coffee, I went to a comedy show that another friend of mine was performing in, and, I kid you not, there was an open mic at a different room at the comedy club, and I accidentally wandered into it. They asked my name when I came in, and I gave them my name because I didn’t think anything of it. And then they were like, “And next up, Valerie.” I looked around and I was like “What?” and I had no idea what was happening, so I walked on the stage and I did three minutes.
It was the craziest thing in the world, I said “I’m not even supposed to be here. I don’t know how this happened, but here’s the funniest thing that I can talk about,” and it was about the male and female brains. It was great that that could have not possibly happened if I’d said, “Look, my email inbox is packed.” I could have easily said, “I really need to stay home and answer all these emails. I have client inquiries, like, I should be answering those emails.” And you know what? No. I’m fully prepared to answer those emails today, and I am refreshed and better off. I’m a better communicator, I’m a better speaker, I’m a better boss, I’m a better everything because I said that time is precious, and yesterday, it was the first Thursday where I forced myself to take the time. Because the last two Thursday’s, I’ve kind of skipped on it and not really done it. Yesterday was the first Thursday where I was like, “No I’m taking the whole day.” And it’s great!
Dustin Odham: So awesome.
Valerie Alexander: Everyone, that is the best contribution you can make to others, is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.