I was thinking this morning how much a little head space can make a difference. Two weeks ago I finished my job of fourteen years and began a new direction. The direction wasn’t necessarily clear and the purpose was a little garbled. I was intending to get straight into as much relief teaching as I could and just keep the dollars rolling in. For a range of reasons, the plan hasn’t really worked out the way I thought it would. But then, the best laid plans often find a way of being interrupted… and these ones certainly have been! I had so many thoughts about what I would do before I finished my job – and I even employed a career coach to support my transition into a new industry.
As a career teacher, it’s almost impossible to imagine what it’s like working in a corporate role. I had to explore this, and begin to understand what skills I had gained in education that might be applicable to a different industry. My career coach helped me through this, prescribing a number of assessments and assigning regular tasks. As we worked through the results, it became clear that the obvious place to transition would be to Training or eLearning. These areas excite me to differing degrees and the skills I had identified would be suited to both possibilities. My written and spoken communication skills are strengths, as is my knowledge of how people learn. If I could get my foot in a door, then moving into one of these industries should be a possibility.
It’s a difficult step to take, to change industries. Especially when you don’t start with a clear goal in mind. But it is extraordinary the impact that can be achieved with a little bit of time and space to get a clear head. A couple of months ago, my head was all about moving on. I had applied for a few jobs, but really my main focus was escaping the grind I was experiencing as a teacher. It had become too difficult to continue, and at the same time, too difficult to think of doing anything other than finishing up in the classroom. Now I have had a couple of weeks with little relief teaching work and plenty of time to just be, I’m feeling the pressure released and a mind that wants to discover new things.
When I think back, I know I could have made the decision to leave teaching earlier, before things got to the point where I felt I had to do so. But I can’t be certain that I would have been ready. And as someone who tries to live a mindful life, I can honestly say I have no regrets. Because now I am ready. In my final weeks of work there were so many colleagues who came and spoke to me and expressed their envy or their own desire to move away from the school or away from teaching. Some of them actually sounded quite desperate. That throws up many things in relation to the industry and the employer, but I’d rather consider what it is that stops people from making the move. The most obvious blocker is finance. It was one of mine for many years, but there are ways around it, and a little planning goes a long way. Another blocker is probably very similar to mine – what else do you do? How can the skills learnt in teaching be applied to other industries. No doubt there are lots of other family pressures and expectations to be dealt with too.
What I can tell you is that I am rejuvenated. I have taken my opportunity to make a big
move and it is paying off already. I don’t know if it will pay off in the long term, but do you know what? It doesn’t matter. I think back to the legendary conversation between a teacher and her student, asking what he wants to be when he grows up. “Happy,” comes the reply, to which the teacher suggests that the student doesn’t understand the question, before the student responds again, “you don’t understand life.” Life might not be about trying to be happy all the time. But one thing is for sure: I don’t need a label to be happy. In fact, I’m probably going to be much happier without one. I think that labels can be limiting and hold you back in so many areas of life. And it was just this experience, of realising that I no longer defined myself by my title as a teacher, that has given me the inspiration to seek a new path. Maybe I’ll try lots of things before I figure out exactly what is the right fit for me. That’s ok. Because maybe the right fit is just being me.
No doubt many are noticing that I seem to have found a new direction. I could share it… and I will. But not yet. Who knows, maybe the topics of my upcoming blogs might give a bit away? What I will tell you now is that if you find what you love, and there is any way of doing it, take the leap. Intrinsic quality of life is far better than just owning stuff. Truly being happy in what you do every day is something to be envied for those who don’t have it. I don’t have it just yet, but I’m on the path to get to it. I hope you are too.