Uninspiring. Draining. Mediocre. Unfulfilling. Negativity. Lacking support. Mentally exhausting. Unprofessional.
If any [or all] of these words come to mind when you think of work then keep reading because you, my friend, are in a soul-sucking job.
I know I’m not the only one with this experience.
If you’ve been teaching for a few years, I would be willing to bet you have had your run-in with a teaching experience that’s been, shall we say, less than desirable.
[And by less than desirable I totally mean it makes you want to bang your head against a wall every time you are in the vicinity of said place.]
If you say yes…if teaching has ever gone from bucket-filling to soul-sucking…then you’re not alone.
It's what I call the teaching black hole. Sadly, good teachers fall into this black hole and some never make it out before quitting the profession altogether.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m sure you didn’t go into this line of work for the money…amma right?
You have a passion for this work.
There’s a little light that burns bright inside of you that, when inspired and fulfilled, shines through you entirely like a sunbeam. This work is your calling. This is your joy. This is what you set out to devote your life to.
But how does this dream of a job turn into a nightmare from teaching hell?
Well, for starters, it could be because of poor leadership. Maybe it’s due to a lack of resources. Possibly you just don’t jive with the energy in a particular environment. Or maybe it just isn’t a “right fit” teaching position.
Whatever the reason, if you find yourself nodding along as you are reading this [as in you are living this nightmare in real-time], then please for the love of all that is holy, WAKE UP.
Why are you still contributing to something you don’t believe in?
What I mean is, your life is far too short and your gifts are far too valuable to waste any more time being a part of something that does not fulfill you and bring value to your life.
As the great Mufasa said, look inside yourself...you are more than what you have become. [yes, I did just quote The Lion King.]
It's not about expecting perfection. Sure, there are problems in EVERY school and EVERY year you are likely to encounter difficulties and annoyances that challenge you to keep truckin' along as your best teaching self.
The difference here is the energy surrounding what is challenging you.
When I say soul-sucking work, what I'm talking about is something you feel at a deeper level. Something that energetically changes you at a more constant and prolonged rate.
I'm talking bad vibes that you just can't shake and, before you know it, make you unrecognizable to the bright-eyed, enthusiastic teacher you once were.
It's not about being selfish, either. If you are not teaching from a place of passion, then you are doing a disservice to all of the people who could [and should] interact with you at your best.
By staying in this environment, are you supporting your students in the best way that you can?
Are you contributing to your team around you by bringing the best that you have to offer on a daily basis?
Are you growing in the ways you want as a professional?
Plain and simple, are you satisfied at the end of the day?
If the answer is no then let me ask you, what are you waiting for? What’s it going to take for you to take a leap and forge a new path on your teaching journey?
I hereby give you permission to leave your soul-sucking job so long as you agree to pursue what calls to you at a higher level.
Another school? Ok. A different grade level? Awesome. A totally different position that maybe feels outside of your comfort zone? GO GET EM’.
Why? Because we need you. We need your passion, your enthusiasm, your unique approach to the world of education that only YOU can bring us.
If that light inside of you dims, then our hope for a better future and a better world dims with it.
Because I know for you [as for me], in its truest form teaching is more than just a job...it's a purpose, a calling. We didn't enter into this profession for any reason stronger than our passion for making a difference in the lives of students.
But it's when that passion begins to fade, to extinguish, that we've got to act fast.
So how do we do that?
Let me walk you through the path I took when faced with this very dilemma.
In truth, I've come to this point twice in my life up until now: 2 years ago right before moving to Brazil and [full discretion] I'm going through it again now.
 Realize what is no longer serving you.
Maybe at one point in time the job that is sucking the life out of you now actually felt rewarding. Maybe at one point you actually enjoyed doing what you are doing where you are doing it.
This was totally true for me. When I decided to quit my job and sell everything to move to Brazil, my current job was like a divine gift. It came to me at the exact time I needed it and during that first year it was an amazing experience filled with opportunities for me to learn and grow as a professional.
The harsh reality is, change is constant. Change in leadership. Change in workmates. Change in students. Change in expectations. Change in other areas of your life that end up having a spillover effect.
Let me just say, this is OKAY. This is life and it ebbs and flows. The important thing is to realize early on what is no longer serving you.
For me, this realization took a while to come. I tried to go against it. I tried to change my surroundings. I tried to mold myself to make things work as effortlessly as they had in the beginning.
But eventually I developed an awareness that I had outgrown where I was. The longer I stayed, the more toxic and bitter I became towards the ineptitude I saw around me. I couldn't change it [although naively I tried], so instead I moved on to step two in this process.
 Commit...set the intention to move on.
When it comes down to feeling uninspired and suffering from a lack in fulfillment, you don't have time to hold on to this burden. So set the intention to bring this chapter of your teaching journey to a close and move on to what is in better alignment with your calling.
Maybe at this point, you have no idea what the next chapter looks like. I'm here to tell you friend, this too is OKAY.
This was me 100% in both of my experiences I've mentioned.
Making up your mind and setting a clear intention is powerful stuff. Once you decide to let go of what is no longer serving you, I promise you that doors will begin opening for you.
You may not see the entire staircase ahead of you, but the next step will surely appear in due time [speaking from experience ;)].
 Do some soul-digging.
With the awareness of what no longer serves you and a clear intention set to step away towards something greater, it's time to do some soul-digging.
When thinking about what your next move should be, consider what the truest thing is for you to do.
Go run yourself a warm bubble bath and let the sound of that water drown out the voices of everyone else around you because its time, my friend, to listen to the voice inside of YOU. This is the one that truly matters.
Let me share with you a little piece of advice. This is possibly one of my favorite nuggets of wisdom I've come across....the pain pushes you until the vision pulls you [thank you Michael Beckwith].
Ahhhh the truth in these words cannot be understated.
Before moving to Brazil, while I was still wrapping my head around the idea of leaving everything behind for the complete unknown [and with literally everyone around me telling me I was crazy], I went through a period of resistance to the idea. I became so sick with stress that I was having full on panic attacks [not knowing what they were at the time] and breaking down into tears on a whim.
My job was no longer satisfying me. My personal life was crumbling around me. And then my health started to go with it. I needed some major soul-digging.
Once I accepted that Brazil was part of my vision for my future [after having my world turn upside down around me in the process], I experienced an indescribable sense of peace and knowing that all would work out. Even in the face of complete uncertainty, I knew it would come together in exactly the way it was supposed to [and spoiler alert: it did.]
Related: The F Word [My Story Pt. 1]
 Guard your character.
So now that you've accepted that it's time to let go and move on to something more aligned with your vision, you may be left still waiting it out.
As teachers, our work structure is pretty different from other types of jobs. We keep time according to the school year, which means there's a start and an end to it and it's not usually easy to bow out somewhere in the middle.
For this reason, although you may mentally be at a place where you've accepted that you're ready for a change and you'd like to 'peace out' now, in reality you may have to wait a few more months until this change fully plays out for you.
This waiting game may be the most difficult task of all. In this case, I can only say: guard your character.
Although it's easy to fall into the trap of bumbling through as a grump day by day, casting out your bad vibes and side-eyeing everyone that crosses your path, I challenge you not to.
Instead, finish the job in a way that you can leave better than how you found it. See the next few weeks or months as a benefit for YOU. Take advantage of where you're at and look for the ways that you can still grow through the challenge.
I promise, with the right mindset you can milk this thing a little bit longer and come out stronger and a little more seasoned, with your integrity still intact.
 Know your worth.
Last, but not least, know the value you bring to the work that you do. Own it.
Don't let the experience of a soul-sucking job drain you of the love and joy you have for teaching.
Whatever negativity you've experienced, don't let it cloud who you know yourself to be as a teaching professional.
No one can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission to do so. Remember, mediocrity attacks excellence [another great nugget from Mr. Beckwith]. Stay true to who you are and what you believe is best for your students and ultimately yourself.
Now, if I was speaking to you here, I hope you will take my words and find the courage to live bigger...live fuller...live truer to yourself and who you are as a teacher.
Your future is counting on it.
The future of the profession is counting on it.
The future of our kids is counting on it.
Ok my friend, when you're ready, let's go teach the world!
>>>p.s. if you're ready to say adiós to your current job and market yourself for the job of your dreams, I got your back! Click here to check out my step-by-step guide for how to put together a Rockin' Teaching Portfolio [an essential for every 21st century teacher, trust me!]
>>>Wanna save this post for later? Just save it to your favorite Pinterest board and you'll have access to it forever and always :)
Join the TtW revolution. Together, we can shape creative future leaders in classrooms around the world!
We are a community of educators working to shape creative future leaders in every classroom around the world.