I remember the dread and drain of feeling trapped in a job I hated. It was a “good job,” but it wasn’t fulfilling. I knew I was capable of more — doing more, earning more, and having more impact. Not only that, but I didn’t trust or respect the people that I was working for and with.
The typical advice given to someone in this situation is to just be grateful for having a job. And I was grateful, but there was also another truth that I needed to acknowledge: It is okay to outgrow where you are.
My heart started racing. I felt dizzy, weak, and had a hard time concentrating. An overwhelming sadness folded around me like a swaddling cloth. I felt constrained by it on every side. It was Sunday night, and this was my body’s response to preparing to face another Monday morning.
My Sunday night fits were the worst when I was a teacher. I taught 5th grade for two years that felt incredibly long and were extremely stressful. I loved teaching. And although I knew I wanted to use my gift of teaching to change lives, the role of elementary teacher was not the ideal position for me. I joke that I didn’t have a cape or the boots to be a teacher; good teachers really are superheroes. At the end of my second year of teaching, I made a decision that I would not be going back for a third year.
Now, I could have seen the $80,000 education, the hours spent student teaching and serving in AmeriCorps, and all the preparation for the six-hour exam as a loss. Instead, I focused on what those experiences taught me. I learned about my capacity for compassion and commitment. And I learned how much I truly did want to help other people succeed. One of the most important lessons I learned was this: If you don’t like where you are, you have the choice and power to change things.
I could have chosen to wallow in a career that I was clearly ill-suited for. Had I made that choice I am sure it would have made me a bitter, worn and complacent woman. I see it all the time — women who have settled for less than their calling suffering from perpetual burn out. I chose a different journey. Rather than complain I would change things. That determination has carried me from classroom teacher, to award winning instructional designer, all the way to making the leap from employee to entrepreneur.
It is always important to be grateful for what you have and where you are. Being grateful allowed me to be present in a job I disliked. But acknowledging that I had outgrown my role opened the door for me to freely and confidently look for what was next. My inner dialogue was one of excitement about possibilities rather than trying to talk myself into staying in a job that was draining my energy, enthusiasm and passion. And as I began to talk about what I really wanted and ask for what I wanted, the opportunities and support showed up.
If you need to make a change, stop trying to talk yourself into what you really don’t want. You can be grateful for what you have and want to change. Whether it’s your career, your relationship, or your business, you will never be satisfied if you are being dishonest about what you really want.