‘Habits’ Open The Secret Door to Balance

You want to be do well as a principal, so you expend a lot of your energy to do so.  You fret about burning up all of your time and energy before you make it home to spend time with the ones who love you most.

Balance is often on your mind if you’re a principal, and most of the time the questions I get from our colleagues on the subject are asked in great hopes that I can share the secret to getting in balance.

This is as close as you’ll get to a “secret” on balance, so, listen up, please.

To get yourself closer to balanced, you need to not only be full of enthusiasm and energy at school.  You also need to bring it at home.  That’s a problem since we do school for most of the day and inevitably are more tired by the time we return home than when we arrive at school.

So, you need more energy!  The secret there?  Being more healthy.  There are traps all around you for that!  How do you get to there?


Habits are either working for you or against you.  If you want to be more balanced, you have to have more energy, which is more likely if you’re healthier.  To be healthier is all about habits.

Habits have often been a struggle for me, so I have learned a lot to share with you, not necessarily by getting this right but by learning from experience.

Healthy habits are about sleep, exercise, and what we eat.  As a principal, you basically live in a minefield of bad habits all around you.  It’s easy to get into negative habits that will eat away at your energy in the short run and at your overall health and wellness in the long run.

It seemed like it was all good for me while I was principal.  Went to bed late, got to school early, went at my job with lots of energy and enthusiasm every morning!  Around 10:00 AM, it was time for my treat for having gotten off to a good start.  It’s number:  63.  It’s name:  The Big Texas Cinnamon Roll.  The recipe:  Seven seconds in the microwave, washed down with a Diet Coke.  It was like Christmas morning every day, only a few steps from the main office.

habit keeps you going

The bad part of that story isn’t even the cinnamon roll; it’s the every day part.  It’s SO easy to get into habits that lead to negative results.  After fighting through a period of tiredness around 4:00 PM, I’d have a little time to work before going to a school activity.  There was always food to purchase at the ball games.  The convenience was addictive.  It was also taking away my energy by the end of the work day.

It’s really because of the busy-ness of the job that many of our decisions turn into negative habits.  You make poor food choices because its convenient.  You stay up too late because you want to get work done, but also because you’re tired and it takes longer.  You really really really are going to walk/run/go to the gym tomorrow.  Really.

Despite all of the challenges about poor habits and principals, there is hope.  Lots of it!

It’s called today.  The best, healthiest, most energy-producing habit you’ll ever have began by doing it once.  As they say on the Lottery commercials, today could be the day!  Unlike the lottery, your chances of success are much greater.  It’s a decision, and you are good with those.

Balance is more likely with more energy, and energy is directly related to healthy habits. Don’t worry about how you’ll get it right six weeks from now.  Don’t regret about how you didn’t get it right yesterday.  Today.  Habits.  Success.  You can do it!


This is an installment of our Sunday series about balance.  Getting balance right as the school leader is one of your most critical challenges.  Please take a look at the whole series under the category of “Balance” here at Principal Matters!

Examining balance and getting it right means that you look not just what you do at work, but who you are as the whole leader.  That examination means that you look at yourself and your performance in several areas, including the following:

  1. How you relate to others in your school “universe”;
  2. How you perform and accomplish the tasks necessary in your job;
  3. How you relate to those important to you in your life away from school;
  4. How you interact with the world separate from your school and your home;
  5. How you are developing habits that promote short-term and long-term health and energy;
  6. How you are growing professionally and personally; and
  7. How happy, joyful, and fulfilled you are.

It’s important that you learn to balance within each of these areas, as well as balance all seven together.

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