It was one of the scariest decisions I have ever made in my life. The decision to leave teacher’s college and to throw what I thought was going to be my career path away.
I had started teacher’s college with the hopes of making a real difference in the lives of young people. As I began the program, I was unhappy with the quality of education I was receiving. And when I did my first teaching placement, I realized I couldn’t do this. I loved working with youth in the context of taking them on canoe trips and teaching them how to cut down trees, I didn’t love standing at the front of a classroom for 6 hours a day. So I left.
I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I had no job. I had no idea how I was going to make money.
But it was absolutely the right decision.
Recently in conversations with friends and family, I have been asking the question: what is it that stands in between you and having a meaningful life you really want?
And the answers have surprised me, for every single person answered fear.
But it was fears of different things:
- Fear of not having enough money
- Fear that what I really want “is not going to work”
- Fear if I am really myself, people won’t like me
And the other thing that was interesting to me, was that everyone had a specific example in mind of what would bring more meaning into their lives. They knew what they wanted, they knew what would bring them more meaning, but they were scared to do it.
So how do we do it? How do we overcome the fears that stand in the way of the life we want?
- Consult Your Good Friends
When I left teacher’s college, I talked to a lot of good friends and other people that I trusted during my decision-making period. They didn’t all think it was a good idea, but they helped me examine the decision from a lot of different angles and that helped me to make my final decision.
- Write about it
When I’m trying to sort through a fear I’m working with, I always journal about it. I write about the pros and the cons and the process of writing it down often clarifies what I really want.
With the decision to leave teachers college, I wrote a lot about all the different implications it would have on my life, I wrote about all the fears I had about the decision, I wrote about the impact it would have on my life, and the more I wrote the clearer I got about what I really wanted.
- Sleep on it
Whenever I’m making a difficult decision and I feel confused, I sleep on it. Often after taking some time, I’ll get more clarity about what I really want to do.Leaving teacher’s college was a big decision and it took me four months to finally decide. When I finally officially withdrew, I was sure that this was what I really wanted and would really lead to a more meaningful life for me.
- Take it in Baby Steps
With teacher’s college, I tried to improve my experience before deciding to leave. I changed classes. I got a placement that was more in line with my interests. I talked to professors that I trusted about my challenges and then after nothing worked, decided to leave.
If your fear is about talking to your roommate about challenges your having in the household, choose one issue to address first. Start small.
Consider writing it in an email and at the end of the email say, let’s chat about this on Saturday, if you’re worried about doing it person. Make it manageable instead of diving fully into your fear head on.
- Do it!
Once you’ve talked about it, written about it, slept on it, figured out the baby steps, you have to muster your courage and do it.You don’t have to wait until you know what you’re going to do next. With teacher’s college I had no idea what I was going to do or where I was going to work. I got a job working at a bike shop and then at a day care to sustain me while I figured it out. I eventually found a job where I could run workshops about the justice system for youth: doing all the planning and design and then going into a classroom for an hour or two to deliver the workshop. I still loved working with youth and this was the right fit for me.
You might not know what is going it to happen. And it will be scary. But it’s often the things that scare us the most that lead you to a life with more meaning.
Think about the life that you want, and then gather all the courage you can and do it!
Hope all is well with you.
Take good care,
Career & Burnout Coach