This is the first in a series of posts from Tonya and her friend and colleague, Jen Goepfert.
Welcome to 2021! We’re glad to be here and glad you found us. Much has been said, rightfully, about 2020 and the immense pain that it brought the world. That pain and disruption have caused many folks to reflect about their lives and work and what the point of it all is. One thing that came out of that for us is an increased commitment and determination to support provider well-being.
So who are we and why do we care about you? We met in graduate school at Hamline University in 2002. We immediately clicked and bonded on a friendship level, which deepened as we shared our passions for our work. Although we pursued different careers, Jen in education and Tonya in social work, it was evident quickly that we experienced the same type of work stress that led to burnout, job changes, relationship stress, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. For a long time, we both believed that something was wrong with us. In fact, we were both – in our respective careers – told that something was wrong with us. Here are some things we heard:
- It’s just part of the work. Get used to it.
- What’s your self-care plan?
- You think it’s tough now? Back in my day….
- Are you sure you want to do this job/career?
- You’re not cut out for this.
Have you ever heard those before? It’s time for them to be permanently erased from any leader’s lexicon. If you have heard those, it’s time to stop believing them and return to believing in yourself. One of the core principles of our workis that there is nothing wrong with you. Feeling stress, burnout, grief, even trauma because of your work happens because we are human beings engaging with human beings. It is not due to personal weakness or error, it is an occupational hazard. Quite often, the negative experiences you have are due at least in part to the systems in which you work. You are going to hear a lot more from us about those systems and how to work in them going forward.
The good news is that this occupational hazard is treatable and manageable. The first step is to learn to recognize it and build your toolkit of interventions and strategies to combat burnout. Our goal is to provide you with some of those tools in future blogs, upcoming virtual courses, workshops, and webinars. We hope you’ll find these helpful and that they will increase your ability to sustain yourself in your career.
About Jen Goepfert – Jen completed her Master’s of Art in Teaching from Hamline and taught high school English and Reading in Minneapolis. Today, Jen provides responsive teaching and equity-focused coaching and professional development for a number of districts around Minnesota. You can learn more about Jen at https://www.teacherly.org/or at email@example.com.