“My Job's Not Right, But At Least It's Safe. How Do I Find The Courage To Make A Leap?”

Emma's stuck in a role that's stifling and overwhelming. She knows she wants a change, but without a clear alternative she can't let go of the security of her current career. How do you manage the uncertainty of trying something new?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a primary teacher.

I started off in early years education with three to four year olds. I really enjoyed that but wanted to try different settings and have a social life again, so I moved into supply teaching.

I began to feel that something wasn't right, so I decided to move to a completely different setting – a primary school in a rural village – to work out if teaching was really for me.

How do you feel about your work?

I've come to find the job frustrating, exhausting, emotionally draining and too insular.

Teaching was something I always knew I was capable of, but it wasn't necessarily where I saw myself going.

I was attracted by the fact that the training course provided a clear path to a stable career, with opportunities for progression if I took on added responsibilities.

I love the creative side of helping children to work on something they've come up with. I like the academic side of things too and thrive on learning new information and skills.

But there's not enough of that and the job is often overwhelming, particularly as I'm someone who isn't good at multitasking!

Moving to the rural village was a big leap. I was embarrassed about having made a mistake at first. I now know that it was important move as it's helped me realise both that teaching isn't for me, and that I need a role where I can learn from others, where I'm not isolated.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I want to do something more creative and intellectually stimulating, although I'm not quite sure what.

I've looked into journalism, radio work, educational psychology and voice coaching. I know I could do the work but I don't have the qualifications. And because I've got two degrees already, I feel like I'd have to be really confident before I commit to another course.

I would love to work internationally or use my existing language skills. And I'd like to keep doing something meaningful, so maybe development work could be a good fit.

I think I need to find something where I can apply the skills I already have. I'm really good at connecting people and setting up events, and I feel I work better in a team than on my own.

I'd like my path to have some financial stability but also opportunities for growth and progression. I want to specialise in more than one area, and I'd also like a role where I have some more prestige.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I can't see a clear pathway outside of teaching.

And until I can see an alternative, teaching is like this security blanket that I'm having trouble giving up, even though I know it's not right for me.

Most of the jobs that interest me come with the need to retrain, plus they're so competitive. I don't have the streamlined CV or the experience to feel 'good enough' to break into a new field.

Because of this, all the possibilities feel like big risks.

I feel like I need someone to tell me what to do, to match my skills to another position and tell me everything will work out!

I don't want to be someone who moans about their job, but until I'm OK with the uncertainty and fear of failure, I'm stuck right here, where I know I'm safe, even though I'm not happy.

How do I move forwards?

Can you help Emma?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Emma could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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