I’m an (almost obsessive) list person. Perhaps you can relate? Do you have crazy long lists of books you want to read, podcasts to catch up on, replays of webinars that you signed up for but got so busy you missed them? Do you also have insanely long lists of tasks to do, projects to move forward, stuff to remember? 

What lists get the majority of your time and attention? 

My “go juice” is learning things, thinking about new ideas (or old ideas in new ways) and connecting to other people who are interested in exploring and learning. Allowing myself the time to indulge in activities that ignite that curiosity spark is where I find a lot of my motivation. So why am I constantly holding an empty cup?

That’s a question I think we’re all still trying to solve, but all of this did get me thinking about the students that I teach and mentor. Have I taught and encouraged them to seek out the moments that spark their curiosity? To refill their cups with “go juice?” 

By nature of my role in their lives, my work with young people includes a lot of lists. Planning for your future isn’t as simple as an entry in the “to-do” column, but it does require a progression of essential steps and tasks and experiences – especially if the plan is to pursue college – which is a pretty grueling list in itself.  

I think we’re really good at telling kids what to do. When they’re little we help them organize their day with consistent meal and bed times and other simple routines. As they grow we create lists of daily things to do and in school we introduce homework notebooks and calendars. We help our teens with more sophisticated organizational and time management skills (well, hopefully we’re doing this – they need it!) and all along the way we praise them for getting things done.

Do we give equal praise when we see our students or children create space for activities that let them think creatively and curiously? Do we model the joy of following an interest into something that is not on a list?

Anxiety, stress-related illnesses and depression are affecting teens at alarmingly high rates. There are of course many factors that contribute to this growing problem but I do wonder if we a small start could be embedding accountability for taking care of ourselves more consistently and starting at an early age; making sure that every day – or most days- have moments, or experiences for the brain and soul to be curious.  

To be a better teacher and mentor I want to explore this more. Of course I should start with giving a little respect to that other set of lists! 

I would love to hear how you are cultivating curiosity and joy in your life – or what moments you create for your children or students to let their imaginations flow.

And now, fly