Just start

3 January 2017 by Lisa Meloncon


Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking...Just start.One of the good things about this job is that we consistently get the chance to start over. We have, at minimum, two terms a year where we can start fresh and new. We have the summer where we can start “catching up” or focusing solely on one task or another. That’s quite a gift in its own way.

I had forgotten about how much this can mean until I saw the image above come across my tweet feed. It resonated. I think it resonated so much for me because of a trying 2016, because of current events, because of the renewed hope a new calendar year can bring.

Start. That’s a good word for this year, 2017. I’m going to start doing and continuing to do a few things to ensure there is joy and purpose in my life so I thought I would share them with you.

  • Start by thinking and (re)making boundaries
    This was inspired by Liza. She makes a great point about describing what boundaries are good for, and in this job, it’s important we have them.

  • Start by setting priorities
    To make a doable schedule, you have to set priorities. That means you have to look at what you want to do and balance it with what you have to do and finding that spot in the middle. Set your big goals and then reduce them down J
  • Start by making doable schedules
    I have many times preached about the schedule, but for me, it’s the only way to get things started and finished. Making doable schedules means you get things done so instead of self critique, we can do some celebrating.
  • Start the day by writing
    Writing can mean anything that moves you toward a goal. It can writing an assignment, writing comments on student papers, writing a report for a committee obligation, and of course, it can mean doing some activity toward a research project. But it’s good to schedule this dedicated time to write so that there is always progress toward your end goals (no matter whether that goal is teaching, research or service or some overlap of the three).
  • Start by scheduling time for self care
    Write into that schedule time for exercise, coffee with friends, playing with the dogs/cats, extra hang out time with the children….whatever brings you joy and gives you a mental and physical break from the work

As you’re thinking through boundaries and priorities and schedules, you may want to consider ways that you can start to engage differently with the world.

Start small and explore different options. While I have typically been quite private about my activities outside of work, I have always had them. I volunteer at several organizations that mean a lot to me. I have shifted those commitments recently, but I am still engaged in a way that makes a measure of difference—one that I can see and feel.

Reconnecting with friends and communities that offer support and laughs is also a great way to start each week and ground ourselves in the people that add positivity to our lives. Start by picking a day and try turning it into a routine. The #womeninTC community is always around to talk, to brainstorm, to listen, to whine with, to cry with, and to laugh with. Just reach out through one of our communication channels. Sometimes to start, you need a hand.

Start, too, by remembering that we can only control what we can control. My mother actually told us this all the time growing up, and recently, I have found much comfort in hearing her voice in my head say those words.

Originally this post was much longer but then I realized that start as a coming into being is highly personal and highly contingent. So I decided to delete big swaths of it and just move to encouraging you just to start.

And I’m going to start by wishing y’all good luck and by looking forward to seeing all the great starts as the term and the year unfolds.