It's time to take stock.
Your work has a huge impact on how you experience your life
I recently made a decision to postpone my course, Teachers at a Crossroads: Exploring Career Change, 4 months from when I originally planned to start it (from September 2023 to January 2024).
I really struggled to make this decision. As with many seemingly “easy” decisions, this one got complicated.
The question of whether to postpone the course became a much bigger question about how I want to approach my work and run my business.
I realized (for the millionth time) that how I work has a HUGE impact on how I experience my life.
I'm sharing my process of making the decision to postpone the course here because I believe the insights I had are totally relevant to teachers trying to make tough decisions about what you want your work and life to look and feel like.
I ask you some questions throughout that I hope will give you new perspective on your questions about teaching.
A Reckoning: What kind of work experience do I want?
I want spaciousness in my work.
I had COVID for 2.5 weeks leading up to the course launch. I always thought I would be one of those people who gets a few symptoms and then recovers quickly. WRONG. I struggled. Fever, aches, fatigue, nausea, sinus pain.
Despite my symptoms, I knew I could get the course ready in time, especially once I started feeling a little better. I could crank it out and make it happen. But, it would take a real push. The pressure would be on.
And y’all…I don’t operate well under a lot of pressure.
I do my best work and feel my best when my day is not cram-packed with tasks and to-dos. I don’t like to race through my work every day.
I like to have time to think, reflect, and synthesize. I also like to have the space to zoom out and think of the big picture as I move through a project. I can’t do either of these things if I’m racing to get a project ready in a short timeframe.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to get stuff done. It’s soooooo satisfying to check things off my list! But I like to get stuff done at my own pace. When I feel the pressure of a deadline approaching and I don’t feel ready, I get tense, cranky, tired, or even ill. NOT the way I want to feel.
How does the pace and pressure of your work feel? If you had the opportunity to alter it in some way, what would you change?
I want to prioritize my health and well-being
One of my strengths is that I am extremely dependable. I take my responsibilities very seriously. If I say I’m going to do something, I DO it. I follow through, no matter what. I just can’t NOT.
So the fact that I said I was going to run the course at a certain time and there were a few people waiting to take it made me feel like I had no choice but to run it, whether I felt up to it or not.
But I do have a choice. My “wise self” knows that doing something that doesn’t feel right for me, even though it serves others, will make me feel depleted in the short-term and won’t be sustainable or fulfilling for me in the long-term.
I want to enjoy my work, and I want to be healthy, and I have to make choices in my business that support this.
What would it look like to prioritize YOUR health and well-being in your job? What's one choice you could make about work right now in order to be healthier and happier?
I need to clarify what "success" means to me
My mom stayed with us during our recent COVID bout, and because she remained miraculously COVID free, she saved our sorry butts by taking care of us. When I told her I was feeling stressed about not getting work done for the fall course, she asked me, “Laura, are you putting too much pressure on yourself?”
She knows me. She knows I like to challenge myself, strive for better, push myself beyond my comfort zone. This can be a really good thing! And it can make me feel like I’m never doing enough. Must. Do. More.
I realized that I was thinking about the fall course through the lens of a version of success that judges my work by numbers…of dollars, clients and students I’ve helped, courses, and people on my email list.
But there’s another version of success too, and it judges my work by my level of happiness and fulfillment. Both versions of success matter to me, but I need to be able to hold both in my mind in order to have a healthy, sustainable business.
What markers of success are most important to you in your career? Are you making choices that reflect this?
Obviously, the decision to postpone the Teachers at a Crossroads course until January was not a decision I made lightly! In fact, I probably spent a little TOO much time thinking about it. 🙂
But making the decision was an eye-opening process for me. At the end of the day, I decided not to run the course because forcing it to happen with a tight turnaround didn't align with what I want for myself or my business: spaciousness, health, and happiness.
Does your work align with what you want for life?
If your answer to this question above is NO, but I don't have any other choices beyond teaching...I'm stuck where I am. Read this post You Might Feel stuck, Dear Teacher, but You Have Choices for Your Career or this post Alternative Careers for Teachers (What Else Can I Do?).
I'd love to hear what you think!
Share your thoughts in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is teaching aligned or misaligned with the kind of work experience you desire?
Does your work align with what you want for your life? Which parts do/don't?
What's one change you could make right now to bring your work more into alignment with what makes you healthy and happy?