I can hear those words as clearly now as the day one of my college professors blurted them out. You’ll never make it as a teacher. I was so crushed by what he said, and I still have days where those words weigh me down (don’t worry; there’s more to that story, including a happy ending). Words have power… once they’re out there, we can never take them back. While my experience with that college professor was a negative one, the flip side of this is positive, encouraging words have just as much power. The right words can change the trajectory of someone’s life. Check out these five things you need to hear right now!
1. Your dream is very possible!
Do you ever feel like there’s no hope? Maybe you think there’s no way you can leave teaching now and support your family while doing something you love. Maybe you doubt that there is anything that you’d love to do. I totally get it. You’re tired, frustrated, and ready to give up. Here’s what I need you to do…STOP (whenever I say that, I always think “collaborate and listen” should follow 😀), take a breath, and just sit with this realization: there are thousands of teachers who have left teaching to pursue their dreams, and have done so very successfully. In fact, we have over 25 educators who tell their stories and share their insights with other teachers who want to leave in our More Than Teachers Summit.
Take a few minutes to look around and realize that whatever dream you have, it is more than possible to accomplish. Maybe your dream is to be a baker like Julia. She made it happen– so can you. On the other hand, maybe you want to be a VA for a company you believe is making a difference in the world. Check out Lisa’s story to see that you can make it happen. My point is this: we have to break the cycle in our mind of doubting our dream can happen. In fact, all you have to do is look around you– the evidence is just screaming at you that your dream is very possible! You just have to go after it.
2. You Have the Power!
So much has changed in the teaching world, and it seems like there is very little that we have control over. Teacher autonomy is all but gone. So, we feel like our hands are tied in so many cases. Here’s the thing I’m telling you… when it comes to your life after teaching, YOU have the power! You get to decide when and how you leave, whether it is a year from now as you build up your side hustle, or next month because you applied and found a great job, or even next week because you know you have to get out now. You have the power to pick your career… you can pursue whatever job you want.
Maybe your dream is to be an entrepreneur so you can have freedom of finances and time… that is well within your power. For Brittany, being an entrepreneur was huge because her success was directly related to how hard she was putting in the work and what she invested herself in. I’m telling you, realizing that you have the power to control your success story is a game-changer and something we all need to hear.
3. You are valuable!
No one wants to be seen as just a number. We want our lives to matter, which is why many of us got into teaching in the first place. You know, you think it’ll be just like the movies, where students’ lives are forever changed, and the sappy music plays at the end when the student returns to thank the teacher for his success in life. Don’t get me wrong… sometimes that happens, and those moments are wonderful. But, teaching has changed over the years. Sadly, too many teachers feel more like someone robotically punching a time card in and out, just another number in the education factory. We don’t feel valued…AMIRIGHT? Eventually, those feelings of not being valued became our reality, and we think we have no value in the real world.
Um, that could not be further from the truth! You are valuable!! Who you are matters! You have SO MANY skills that transfer over into other careers, and if you present those skills the right way, employers will be jumping at the chance to hire you! But it doesn’t just stop there… you are valuable, and that allows you to produce value by what you choose to do every day. That’s definitely something we all need to hear right now!
4. Choose your perspective!
One of the greatest things about the human perspective is that we always have a choice. No matter what’s going on around us, we have a choice in how see it. We can respond or react, We can stay stuck, or step out. Take Nick Vuijic as an example. Here’s a man born without arms or legs. Throughout elementary school, he was bullied and picked on. Subsequently, he suffered horrible bouts of depression growing up. However, he overcame all of those obstacles. Now, he’s become one of the top ten motivational speakers in the world. He often talks about how his dad changed his perspective by explaining to Nick that he was “a gift, just differently packaged.” It no longer was about what he didn’t have. It was about what he could do with what he did have. (Spoiler Alert: He has done incredible things in his life).
So, why am I telling you this? It’s simple… we can choose our perspective. What we choose determines our actions. When it comes to your life after teaching journey, choose your perspective wisely. If you choose fear, you’ll stay stuck where you are. If you choose anger or bitterness, your energy will be consumed in the past school experiences. If you choose hope and freedom, you can take action every day to create the life you want for yourself and your family. You can choose to see stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks. You can have the life you were meant to have right now. Who doesn’t need to hear that right now?!”
5. Imperfect progress is growth!
I used to have a sign above my classroom door that read Productive Struggle, not Perfection. I put it up one day after coming back from a PD where we talked about our expectations for our students. I realized that instead of setting up my students to strive for perfection, which is unattainable, I wanted them to learn to work hard in class and be productive. They grew so much more as a learner when I allowed time for that productive struggle. As teachers or former teachers, we have to realize something… Imperfect progress is growth.
I come across so many people (wanting to leave teaching or their current job) who never take action because they allow their minds to be consumed with what if syndrome.
- What if I fail?
- What if no one wants to hire me?
- What if I mess up?
- What if I can’t do what they ask of me?
- What if I disappoint someone?
So, they stay stuck, waiting for the perfect time to take action. Why not flip it around?
- What if I succeed?
- What if so many companies want to hire me?
- What if I go above and beyond what they ask of me?
- What if… and the list goes on.
Can I tell you a secret? There is no perfect time. At some point, you have to take action. Don’t get me wrong… I’m a planner, and I analyze decisions. I follow a plan. However, I am keenly aware that part of that plan needs to involve an action that I can start NOW. Perfectionists can struggle with this because we can often become fixated on achieving that perfect goal, and so we miss out on the everyday growth that could happen. Don’t let the what if’s stop you from taking action. Don’t compare your journey with others and be discouraged by where you are. Just take meaningful action each day to create the best life for you and your family. Imperfect progress is still growth in this journey. Maybe that’s one of the things you needed to hear today.
Everybody has a different life after teaching journey. We all go through the fear of the unknown and struggle with what to do. But if you can approach your journey with a mindset of possibility instead of pessimism, you’ll be on the right track. So, which one of the five things did you need to hear to motivate you today? What could you add to the list to help us on this journey? Comment below and let me know, then share this post with a friend who needs to hear it! Join a community of other like-minded people at Facebook.com/lifeafterteaching
Written by Andrea Rogers