Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Climbing the Right Ladder

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“You have to go for it!” they said.
“You’d be stupid not to,” they said.
“You’re a fool to not apply,” they said.
Had you asked me five years ago if I would like to become a leader, I would have given you a resounding no. I just wasn’t that ambitious and had no desire to ever be anything beyond a classroom teacher. Two years on from that I have been Head of Year, followed by a promotion to Head of EYFS.

“Well done!” they said.
“you’re doing so well!” they said.

But for me, deep down, something wasn’t right. I did the job, and I did the job well, but with each year I did the job I lost a little bit of sparkle, a little bit of enthusiasm, a little bit of happiness, a little bit of myself. I just wasn’t happy at all!

I have now been in leadership for three years and at the end of each one of those years I have considered stepping down to a classroom teacher. Now being the most indecisive person there ever was, making a decision on which nail polish to use is difficult, so big career-changing decisions are pretty much well beyond my capabilities. So I sought advice from everyone around me, which resulted in a resounding no.

“you’re absolutely mental if you step down,” they said.
“This is your empire, how can you just give it up,” they said.

And in listening to them, they were right. I had worked my bloody ass off in my role, I’d made my mark and build an excellent EYFS with my team, how could I just give that up? I couldn’t! I really would be mental to give it up! So I didn’t! Even with that niggling feeling in my tummy I stayed in leadership. And with each passing day a little more of me died.

So, in December when I finally ignored all of the protests and made a decision for myself, I knew what I had to do. I knew that leadership wasn’t making me happy and I needed to step back into the classroom and recapture my love of teaching. While I’m still seeing out my contract in leadership, having only six months to go before I can get back to what I love is such a huge relief. I wish I had listened to my heart sooner!
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A while back I took a leadership course and the guy running the course said “make sure you’re climbing the right ladder. Don’t spend years working and climbing up the ladder to find that you’ve climbed the wrong one and it’s not what you want.” I’ve been keep going back to this because happiness is the most important thing. I may not have climbed far up the ladder, but I’m lucky to have realised quickly that I was on the wrong ladder.

When you’re promoted it’s easy to feel pressured into going further or even staying promoted when it makes you unhappy. Of course, all of the people giving you advice are doing so because they are looking out for you and believe in you, but you’re the only person that knows how you feel deep inside and that’s what matters. You know when something isn’t right and it’s up to you to change it, to do the thing that will make you happy.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be like Nikki! Fuck everyone else’s opinions and ideas and do the right thing, the thing in your heart. Make sure you’re on the right ladder and if you’re not, slide the hell back down and find the one you need to be happy.

Because happiness is the one.


Have you ever been in a similar situation where you were unhappy in a promoted position and wanted to make a change? Or perhaps you were unhappy in your career and completely changed careers? Let me know in the comments.
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1 comment

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