I have a little confession to make; I was wrong to start up at another teaching job this year. Although it is all part of my plan to accumulate savings rapidly in order to retire early, it is still a mistake.
It’s not the school, and it’s certainly not the students, who are a really delightful group of young women. It’s me. It’s who I’ve become. I’ve changed and unfortunately I’ve pushed this realisation aside while throwing myself once more into a situation where I don’t want to be. Realistically I’m stuck here until the end of the year. Sure, I could resign, but I feel I’ve made a commitment to these students and so will do my best to see the year out.
So how am I going to get through a year of feeling stuck between worlds? How can you get through another year if you’re feeling the same way?
Have an end in sight
Feeling stuck indefinitely is far too overwhelming to cope with long term and will almost certainly break you down. You need to have the ability to remind yourself of the impermanence of your situation, even as a means to temporarily cheer yourself up. The end of whatever has you stuck should be in the relatively near future, with three years as an absolute maximum. If what you’re stuck in is a terrible relationship, this should be three months not years.
Work knowing that this is the last time you’ll be doing this job
Going back to teaching maths in a high school setting has confirmed for me that this is the last time I’ll be doing this job. It no longer stimulates me like it once did, and it no longer holds fulfilling challenges. Yet knowing this is my last year brings a new freshness to the situation and allows me to shift my perspective when at work.
Each lesson sees me making the most of my students, enjoying the time I get to spend with them and getting to know them. Teaching offers the unique opportunity to forge many relationships and to perfect your communication skills with a range of different people and I’m going to make the most of it while it lasts.
Research, plan and research some more
Spend time in the evenings and weekends planning your next move. How long will you be able to last on what you will save during this time? How much can you save? Where can you reduce your expenditure?
At first you’ll need to really figure out who you are and what you value. Cal Newport has two great posts he wrote recently explaining that to make a career choice you first need to define what sort of lifestyle you are seeking and which elements you need to include in your life to feel you are living a remarkable life. It doesn’t matter if you want to become a plumber or an urologist, those blog posts will help you a lot.
The first place to start might be with identifying what it is about your current situation that is making you feel so stuck. Essential elements that you need in your life are missing from your job and clearly defining these will help you determine what you need to look for.
Make time for yourself at work
Whether in your lunch break or a few stolen moments here and there at work, it is important that you create little islands of time for yourself. Maybe it’s to read a novel, or to read an interesting article or do a little more research on an idea you had this morning. Depending on how busy your day is this won’t always be possible, but try to take time to devote to you.
In doing so you will experience a moment of freedom in your day and you will take back a moment of control. This will contrast significantly with your usual feeling of being stifled and stuck and will act as an energiser.
Treat this period as a valuable Meantime
Transitioning from one period of your life to another doesn’t usually happen overnight. In fact, when life does change dramatically overnight this is usually to due to a tragedy, and so you should welcome and embrace a period of less rapid and more conscious shifting.
Yes you will wake up each day wishing that the new phase of your life had already started, but it won’t start without the necessary groundwork anyway. Think of it as a challenge. If you can set up the framework for your new life in the middle of a life that leaves you very little time for your own pursuits, then you must really want it. In a way, you will prove to yourself during this time that you mean business and that your goals are important to you.
In fact, on some days you’ll be glad to see that the deadline for the end of this life and the beginning of the new one is still so far off when you realise there is still so much to do. In a way I think it can be likened to the nine months of being pregnant. As a mother you are given nine precious months (in the best case scenario) to prepare for your new life. There are many times when pregnant women can’t wait for the baby just to be born already, sometimes because of the great discomfort or for feeling unwell, and other times due to the great excitement. Regardless, all women have to wait. I’m sure there are an equal number of times where mothers are glad for the time to adjust to the idea of this new role and to have the time to prepare mentally, emotionally, physically and practically.
Consider that you are currently in the gestational period of the new life that you are creating for yourself. You need this time to prepare yourself, both mentally and practically. Waking up overnight into your new life would more than likely fail miserably. A gradual change of which you have control over is far more likely to be successful.
Feeling stuck is simply a sign that you’re ready to move on and that you are overdue for a change. There’s no point sitting around wishing and waiting for your lotto numbers to come up. Instead you need to use this time to plan your escape. Don’t put all your focus on the ending though, the focus needs to be on the beginning of what happens next.
This is where I went wrong last time. I put my focus on what I didn’t want rather than on what I wanted and needed. This in turn ensured I had no firm plan for my next move. Without the correct clarity I’ve fallen back into what I know. So I’m setting myself the challenge of using this year to exit a life I don’t want and to enter a life that I do want and that I have successfully planned for.