Return to school/work: Developing the mindset

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There are two things I would like to focus on and discuss: Mindset and returning to work or school after vacation.

            Let me ask you a question. Do you think that your mind works the same way while at work or school as when you are on vacation? If you answered no, you would be correct. When we are involved in any activity, our minds are focused on it, trying to get all the information from it, react to it, make decisions based on feedback and events. To do that, whether you are managing a business, being in a classroom or working as a mechanic, you need to be present in the moment, rather than being on vacation. Imagine you are on a beach somewhere laying around and studying for a final exam? Or preparing for your very important presentation or project? Much like in sports, there is something called “game face”.

            Now let me talk a bit about mindset. Mindset, by definition, is an “established set of attitudes”. So, having the best possible attitudes while at work or at school guarantees you the best possible success. The power of mindset is so powerful that scientists have been studying it to determine how different individuals produce different results while facing the same problems and resources. They have found that changing the mindset of someone can be the ONLY difference between success and failure. Scientists have also found that if you train people to believe and think that stress is a positive force and not a negative one, that people will actually use stress as a reason for success. Convince people that stress is a negative force and things change in their body on a physiological level with heart rate, breathing rate, sweating, brain function and decision making. Mindset can literally change our internal biology! It is a very powerful tool indeed.

            Knowing that, getting yourself ready to go back to school and work requires that mindset intervention. Studies have shown that people can put themselves in “game face” mode with practice and knowing how to do so. There are a few steps they can take, with a few routines that can help.

  1. Do not wait till the last day to get in the mindset. We all have routines that we do when we are working the nights or days before. The way we prepare, the way we pack, the way we distribute time and deal with the children or house chores, Try to do these one to two days prior to going back to work, You do not have to have the same load as you are still on vacation. So, try to enjoy that as well.
  2. Try to get to the office early the first day of work and settle in. You may have a ton of emails to sort through and you may have forgotten all your to-do notes that you said you would need to do. Try to see what projects are present and what meetings are scheduled for the week. Look for the new projects or initiatives at work to hit the road running and not to miss a beat trying to catch up in the meetings you might have.
  3. If you are returning to school try to finish your school summer work well in advance and do not leave everything to the last minute. Get ready by having everything organized, all your stuff ready, your rooms and desks prepared and cleaned, all your stationary bought and your books and copy books stacked. Make sure all your school needs are met before going there, and try to connect with friends and get yourself ready.
  4. When you return to work, you will have a ton of things to do. So make sure you prioritize your list of to do needs.
  5. Try to catch up with your co-workers the day before and ask about anything major coming up, any memos and any tasks that need immediate attention.

One of the most important things you can do is to celebrate your vacation and enjoy it. There are two ways you can look at this. Either being grateful for the time off and savoring it, or allow the approaching working environment to ruin the fun time you just had. That is your decision. But making sure that your experience truly fills you up and provides you with enough energy to go back to work is essential.