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This isn’t what I wanted!

What happens when you get your dream job, only to find that you just don’t want it anymore?

Our elder has a systematic approach that just might help.

Dear EWC

I am really struggling lately, I have always thought that I wanted to work in the early childhood field. But since being in it for over a year, I am not sure if that’s what I want to do anymore. I love it, but daily, when I come home from work, I really start wondering. I used to do residential care, that is what I loved too, but I couldn’t handle it there… I don’t want to say I am lazy or anything like that, but I don’t know what makes me happy anymore. I literally don’t know what I am doing; I literally feel like I am constantly going through the motions of my job,. It’s weird, but I have always wanted my classroom and now that I have it… I don’t feel happy about it anymore and I am unsure of how to feel about this. Should I start moving on into a different field or just tough it out?

Dirk replies

Thanks for your letter. It must be disconcerting for you to realize after a short period that you may not want to do the work that you were planning to do for much of your work life. I call this recognition “the reality of the situation.” You have done the work long enough to know what it feels like and you cannot imagine yourself doing it much longer. I do not think that “toughing it out” is a good thing when you have many years of similar work in front of you, nor do I think making a hasty job or career change is something that I would do at this time.

I would suggest that you take a very close look at your expectations with the field and with the duties of your current position. Create a rating system for both categories. For expectations, consider rating statements like “current job is equipping me with more skills in my field” (yes or no). “Current job is improving my technical skills. (Powerpoint, Excel etc.) (yes or no). “Current job is making me a better teacher.” “Current job will enable me to be considered for promotion by similar employers (yes or no) or employers from other fields” (yes or no). Please add your own statements about expectations that get yes or no answers.

Then focus on the duties. For example, “My duties are what was described to me when I interviewed for the job.” “I have someone to go to and with whom I am comfortable when I have questions about my duties.” “I believe that I am making a positive difference in the lives of these children.” Please add your own statements about duties that can be answered with a yes or no answer.

Now take a look at the answers. If the answers to the “expectations” questions are mostly “no,” then this particular job probably is not what you thought it would be and probably is not preparing you very well for other jobs in the field of childhood education or for other kinds of employment. If the answers to the “duties” statements are mostly “no,” the aspects of the actual job need to be addressed.

For “no” answers to “duties” questions, solutions to them should be found within school administration and within you. A mentor who gives you constructive feedback possibly could help. Learning that other teachers have some of the same issues could result in some of you approaching school administration and seeking clarification. Possibly you also need to do some research for issues that you are encountering in your classroom.

For “no” answers to the “expectations questions,” I believe that you have to then identify the strongest “no’s” and decide if you think that you could substantially change your expectations within the duties that you perform in your school, or if you think the expectations would change at another school. If the answer to these questions are “no,” then you probably.need to think about looking for a different job within the field (school administration?) or a different career.

I hope that you take an approach like this to try to identify what specifically is making you so unsure about your career path. Then you will be able to take the necessary actions to help yourself.

I wish you well.

Letter #: 430843
Category: Career

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