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Making a Change

By Chris Donnelly

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It’s Sunday at 5 pm and you start to get the fear about going into work tomorrow. You then wake up at the usual time on Monday morning with the same groan about going to work. Before you know it though, it’s Friday! And you’re buzzing because you don’t have to go back to work for two whole days! You have the “Friday feeling”! When you’re walking into work, everyone seems much happier because it’s Friday, with the standard response to any question that morning being, “At least it’s Friday!”. Before you know it though, it’s Sunday at 5 pm and the fear has returned. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I used to be that person. And I didn’t like it. I’d have the “Sunday night blues” about going to work the next day, and I loved it when Friday came around. I absolutely lived for the weekends. That is not to say I hated my job though. Before becoming a Speaker for Tree of Knowledge, I was a Geography teacher. I loved many aspects of that job. I loved teaching what I consider to be a very important subject and I loved seeing pupils progressing towards/achieving their goals.

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There were however a few aspects of that job which I found overwhelming and subsequently detrimental to my mental health. I fully respect teachers, and the pressures that they are constantly under. The “35 hour” working week simply does not exist. I was the only Geography teacher in the school, therefore I was responsible for every aspect of S1-Higher, as well as a Travel and Tourism course. The school was supportive and helped as much as they could, but I was 24 years old and feeling stressed and miserable at work… That wasn’t right. It wasn’t right for me and it wasn’t right for the pupils. My work started to impact on my personal life, and I knew I wasn’t giving the pupils the best version of me that they had previously experienced. I had changed as a person, I didn’t recognise myself anymore! I didn’t want to be that person who is ten, twenty, thirty, and before you know it forty years into a career that I don’t enjoy. What a massive waste of life that would be. Something had to change…

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So I did just that. I made a change. A massive change. A life-changing change! I was contemplating different career options around April/May 2018. When I was thinking about how I could change my path, I saw a job advert on Facebook posted by Tree of Knowledge. They were looking for a new “Superhero Speaker” to join their team. So I donned my cape, got my mask out, and put my underwear over my trousers and applied! It felt amazing! But then, of course, all the reasons why I shouldn’t apply started creeping in. “I’ll miss the kids!”, “What about the holidays!?”, “Will it pay the same?”, “What will people think of me leaving teaching?”.

I sought advice from friends and family members, and they were 100% behind me. They knew I had changed as a person and they knew I wasn’t happy. But they also knew that I cared about inspiring young people. I could still do that in a role at Tree of Knowledge. After a few days of absolutely going to apply, definitely not going to apply, sleeping on it, and seeking advice… I sent in my covering letter and CV. I decided to trigger the change. Simply by applying I felt like a new person. I started to feel like the real me again! After some interviews and a presentation, the job was mine. In short, I was ecstatic.

You might be in a similar position to me. You might be in a job or studying at college or university, and if you’re being honest with yourself, you don’t want to be there. But you stay there because you’re scared of making a change. And it’s totally fine to feel that way! Changing your career or what you’re studying is a massive decision and should only be done after you’ve weighed up your options. After you’ve looked into the pros and cons of making such a change, you then need to make a decision. If you think making a change is going to benefit your life, such as making you happier, less stressed, or maybe to have more time with friends and family, then you should probably look to make that change. There probably will be small sacrifices that you have to make, such as pay and working hours, but what I’ve very quickly realised is that money does not buy you happiness. Would you rather have a couple hundred extra quid in your bank account at the end of the month? Or would you rather wake up each morning feeling excited about what the day ahead is going to bring? Any initial sacrifices of a change are worth it when you think about the bigger picture and why you are making the change.

In 2018 I lost 3 close family members, and it really caused me to re-evaluate my life. Life is so short, and it could all be over in an instant. We need to live a purposeful, happy, and stress-free a life as possible. The only person who can trigger change is YOU. We cannot sit around and wait for opportunities to pop up in front of our nose. If you want change, then YOU have to do something about it. It could be something simple like talking to family and friends about how you feel, to actively seeking what alternatives are out there. If you search, you will find.

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Do not let a job control your life. Do not let a college or university course make you feel miserable. On a Sunday at 5 pm, think about how you want to feel. When you wake up to go to work on a Monday morning, think about how you want to feel about the week ahead. Be positive, take control, and make the change.

(If you want advice about making a change, big or small, you can email Chris at chris@treeof.com, or find him on Twitter @Chris_TreeOf)

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