I Quit My Job Update: Seven Months On

I quit my teaching job update

I was scrolling down my Facebook feed this morning, and one status from a teacher friend immediately stood out:

‘Is it wrong to have the Sunday night blues at this time in a morning?’

How I remember that feeling. Twelve months ago, my state of mind was exactly the same, except, my Sunday night blues would start on Saturday morning – the respite from the almost permanent state of anxiety I experienced would be on Friday nights, when I knew I wouldn’t have to face anything for two days and was busy comforting myself with huge amounts of junk food in an effort to make myself feel temporarily better.

Just over seven months ago, I decided that I’d had enough, and I quit my teaching job without a new job to go to. This was the scariest thing I have ever done – I’ve had a job since I got my National Insurance Card at the age of 16, and I’ve never left one job without securing another first. Want to know the full story? Click here – I’ve had an amazing response to this.

I stayed in my role until the end of the academic year, officially finishing in mid-July. I was in the phenomenal situation that, due to my contract, I would still be paid until the end of August (which was the summer holidays), and I decided to take a further few weeks off after that, giving me a total of two months off. However, it wasn’t just the job that was bringing me down – my whole life felt like it needed a makeover, and I decided that I needed to make some changes. This is what I did:

1. I made myself a ‘magic wand’ list. However ridiculous this may sound, when I am unhappy I always recall a question that an inspirational drama teacher once asked me when I was at school.

‘If you were given a magic wand that you could wave over everything and make things better, what would you wish for?’

I thought about that magic wand, and what I would want to wave it over to change it for the better. I quickly realised that there wasn’t just a single thing that was making me unhappy, and created a list of what I wanted my life to become. From that list, I worked out what was in my control and what was a priority. I then added on a list of my skills and what I have to offer, and then created a plan…

2. I worked out a budget and opened a savings account. I’ve never been great with money, but I’m in the lucky position where I have no huge financial responsibilities aside from the rent, bills, a diabetic cat and a small loan I took out a few years ago. I stopped frittering my spare cash away with nothing to show for it. Instead, I started being more thrifty during food shops, stopped buying unnecessary clothes, saved all my spare change and put as much as possible away each month. Doing this was for the sole purpose of being able to cover the rent and bills in the event that I didn’t get a new job straight away.

3. I decluttered my home. I realised that I was surrounded by so much stuff – material possessions that I had amassed over the years that I no longer wanted or needed. After moving house twice in the last three years I managed to donate large amounts of it to various charity shops, but I realised that I had a whole host of electronics that had been cluttering up my cupboards and shelves for a long time. I boxed it all up and sold it.

4. I started the process of decluttering my mind. As I did with my house, I have been working to tidy my mind, removing the negative things that have plagued me for a long time. Writing has been a huge form of therapy, and this little blog has been a huge part of that process…

5. I got rid of the toxic people in my life, and started making more of an effort with the ones that matter. Living under a black cloud for a long time made me quite a difficult person to be around, and when things got rough I was lucky to be surrounded by people who were there to lift me up without expecting anything in return. I took steps to improve relationships with family members, which has been a hugely positive experience, and I have been making more of an effort to spend time with and do nice things for people that mean a lot to me. It also highlighted the ones that weren’t there when I needed them, and with that came the realisation of just how one sided our relationships were. After a while, I realised that I didn’t miss their company. So I said goodbye. I’m yet to regret that decision.

6. I signed up to a half-marathon. All those years of comfort eating and enjoying a cigarette and cocktail or five has led to a massive weight gain, and at the point of my resignation I was the heaviest and most unhealthy I’ve ever been. Signing up to do the run, along with having to pay for it, telling my friends, my family and the blogging world, and opening up a Just Giving page meant that I had to be accountable for actually doing it. I’ve been steadily building up my stamina, over the summer and am looking forward to the race – all thirteen miles of it – in a few weeks time. Consequently, I’ve lost weight and feel much better about myself.

7. I booked a holiday. The Bloke and I haven’t been away in years, not really being able to afford it as we could only go when I my work schedule permitted it. As I would no longer be tied to term-time, The Bloke and I booked a holiday to Barcelona in September after the summer holidays had finished and everyone went back to school. It was much cheaper, far less busy and the weather was still glorious. It was very much needed – a complete break from everything at a fraction of the price, and we both fell in love with the city.

8. I started pushing myself to try things I’d always wanted to do. At the start of August I attended the Annual Bloggers Bash, which was terrifying as I would have to meet bloggers that I’ve been talking to in person. However, it turned out to be one of the nicest days I’ve had all year, and I’m looking forward to the next one! I’ve also started to get into make-up, becoming slightly obsessed with beauty vloggers like Carly Bybel, and it hasn’t been uncommon for The Bloke to return from work to find me with a fully made up face as if I was ready for a night out. I’m now looking into courses, mainly to build up my skills rather than create something from it. I’ve started to do reviews for a number of local restaurants, and have several more lined up.

And the job?

Secretly, I’ve been a little worried during my time off. Had I done the right thing? Was this just a silly knee-jerk reaction to a difficult few years?

Thanks to a suggestion from my former headteacher, who has been an unbelievable support throughout the whole thing, I decided to start my own little business, which would involve being paid on a freelance basis to go into different primary and secondary schools and work with classes and small groups, developing singing performances and creating concert opportunities.

My former headteacher employed me to do just that, and shortly afterwards I received an offer from a primary school to do the same. However, I was concerned about the fact that most of my freelance work didn’t start until October would mean that I wouldn’t earn anything over September. Of course, I have savings in place for that very reason, but the ‘what ifs’ plaguing my thoughts wouldn’t go away.

It turns out, I needn’t have worried in the slightest. Within a week of returning from holiday, I was called into my former school on supply, and have been offered steady supply work until the end of this term, which will give me the opportunity to build up my business without worrying about how the bills will be paid. It means that I still get to see my colleagues and the students, most of whom who I missed very much, without the stress and hassle involved in being a full-time teacher. No reports, no data, no parents evenings… Perfect. And I can choose my days, which means I am doing three days a week, simply because I don’t need to do more. This means, even with my freelance work I am working about a third of the hours I used to with very little responsibility, and getting paid the same for it. (And, if I’m being honest, it took less than an hour of dealing with a challenging student to make all the questions about my decision disappear!)…

I’ve been asked a number of times if I have any regrets. Looking back on the most wonderful two months I’ve had in a long time, I have just one:

I should have done this eighteen months ago.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

Image Credit: Banksy print

106 thoughts on “I Quit My Job Update: Seven Months On

  1. You’ve been brilliant. I get depressed and whine about my life but do nothing as if things will change by themselves. You actually created your own change. I’m so happy it’s working out for you.

  2. You certainly did make the right decision. Happy to hear all is working out so well. When I quit two teaching jobs to join the Peace Corps for two years, it was well worth it. When I came back, one of the schools hired me as a Mentor Teacher for sixteen years before, under a new administration, they terminated the position and concentrated on technology to help teachers. When that happened, a started an online tutoring service. We can always find something!

  3. Inspiring.
    And happy for you. Keep it going, and Keep writing.
    One day when I need the courage to follow my heart, I ll remember this piece of Inspiration.
    Thanks for writing.

  4. Love this post and I’m so pleased that it’s working out for you. I’m sitting next to someone who knows exactly how you felt on Saturdays and Sundays before you quit. Hoping that in a few months time we can look back on our life changing move with no regrets either!

  5. I’ve done pretty much the same thing. Wanted to leave teaching, but the school persuaded me to stay part-time. Managed this for a year, but part-time teaching is still more than full-time for any other job! It was still impacting on home life too much, so I quit (tried too!) again but have ended up staying in a support role with my old school. I’m know it’s not what I want long term, but for now, until finances are better, it has reduced the stress and I can actually leave at 3.30! Life’s too short to be waking up at 3am, worrying about whether you gave every child a way forward!!

      • International blogging stardom? Publish a book and turn it into a multi-million dollar film franchise?

        Haha, I don’t actually know. Some beginning my blog around 4 months ago, I’ve discovered I really enjoy writing and would love to pursue some kind of career in this area.

        I’m not even that bothered about money, as long as we have enough to pay bills and be comfortable. I just want to enjoy getting up for work again. Perhaps I’ll retrain in something – it’s not the first time I’ve done a U-turn on my career. I was a cinema manager for 8 years! So faddy!

  6. I’ve decided that unless something magical happens between now and April, my 20th anniversary with work, then I’m calling it over at 20.

  7. Good for you for making the decision to leave your job. I did that myself a few years ago. It was the best decision I’ve ever made because it gave me the space to review my life and act upon it. The feeling of anxiety during weekends if you’re in a job that’s stressful is unbearable, just horrible. Thinking about Monday before Friday’s not even at end!

  8. So glad to hear things are going well!

    The magic wand idea is life changing. People have often commented, “If it upsets you stop it/ end it with them/ quit.” You know. At the same time I know if I just ran off and did that, it really wouldn’t fix anything and I’d be sad.

    But understanding what you would change if you could and then writing out how you can- now that’s downright awesome!

  9. I loved reading your original post about quitting your job, and, maybe even more, this update. You chose 8 absolutely brilliant things to do covering changes in so many areas of your life. Well done you! I think the most successful changes occur when you tackle life holistically – because you are right, it’s not just one thing which is the problem, so changing just one thing isn’t usually enough.
    But it seems to me that what underlies your eight changes is your hunger and thirst for a more fulfilling life and I reckon that’s a fabulous motivation.
    The magic wand exercise reminds me of something similar used in a therapy called “Solution Focused Approach”. It goes something like this – “Imagine you go to sleep tonight and someone waves a magic wand over you so that all your problems disappear. When you wake up, what’s changed? Describe what you notice has changed.” (I mention Solution Focused Approach in one of my posts about “Choice Theory” – http://heroesnotzombies.com/2008/03/18/choice-theory-a-new-psychology-of-personal-freedom/)
    I’m a doctor but I’ve retired from clinical practice at 60, partly because some of the things you describe about education are just as problematic in health care. I do think we need to get away from the “command and control”, surveillance and measurement obsessions which are dehumanising these very humanistic areas of work – we seem to be prioritising systems instead of human beings these days!). Well, I just wanted to say that although there were negatives within the NHS which made the job much less attractive, this life change for me is for positive reasons.
    I emigrated (to the Charente region of France) to experience a different culture, a better climate, a change of diet, change of pace of life, learn a new language and immerse myself in a different world view. That was last November, so it isn’t even a year yet, but this is been probably the best summer of my life.
    I’ve left clinical practice behind but am enjoying developing my writing skills and transitioning from doctor-therapist into doctor-writer.
    I have an earlier experience to share with you too. I wanted to be a doctor all my life – I was first heard to express the desire when I was three years old. But after about 15 years as a GP I became very disenchanted. There just wasn’t enough chance to be involved in healing, and keeping symptoms under control with drugs every day just wasn’t very satisfying. So I quit.
    I didn’t have a job to go to, but a bit like your freelance idea, I did locums for other GPs now and again. I also wrote a textbook which was published by Churchill Livingstone, and I did a weekly radio show in Edinburgh – “Phone Doctor Bob”! I also did some consulting work for an internet start-up called “net doctor”.
    About 8 months later I was offered a full time position in what is now called the “Centre for Integrative Care” in Glasgow (at that time it was Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital) and in the following twenty years I had a job which involved helping patients with chronic conditions to turn their lives around and travelling the world teaching other doctors.
    It was a wonderful job and a full of great experiences.
    Quitting my GP job gave me the profound knowledge that I had a lot to offer and I would never be unable to pay the mortgage. It was a total liberation and my life became richer (apart from financially! Ha! Ha!) and more rewarding year after year.
    And you know what, Suzie? I think it’s that earlier decision which has enabled me to step out of the NHS at 60 and jump into the next phase of my life as a writer.
    Life is good.
    I’m so glad your decisions are working out so well for you.

    best wishes

    Dr Bob (by the way, my heroesnotzombies.com has been the focus for my writing and photography for many years now and I highly recommend to anyone that they find a platform like this to express themselves and to engage with the wider world)

    • Hi Doctor Bob! (I had the Simpsons in my head when I wrote that…). Thanks so much for you truly epic comment and sharing your story with me. My mum has worked in the NHS for 20 years, five of which she has done in a hospital, so I have heard numerous horror stories about how badly staff are treated… I think your own journey is inspirational – certainly something to aspire to!

  10. I left a job and am cobbling together a few things to pay the bills. I find your process inspirational, and I’m going to adapt it for me. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

  11. Aw, good for you! So brave that you had the guts to do it! There is no point being miserable in life ‘ey! I think this quote, nicely put to music in Cheryl Coles album 😉 (secret fan!haha) says it all (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRR83peKV-w). I also quit my job a few months ago and am in the process of setting up my own business, my last work environment made me so miserable and drained my creative spirit! The money was good, but absolutely NOT worth it.

    http://www.honestyforyourskin.co.uk

  12. I’m basically doing the same thing – only I am old enough to retire and so I am! I have already cut my job to 3 days a week, and should be completely finished by the end of the year. I’ve just scratched the surface when it come to downsizing – but real downsizing is something I both dread and look forward to. Time to simplify and do what I love!

  13. I love this post! (and I’m sorry I’m so late to the comments, I’m just catching up on everyone’s blogs after the madness of last week). Every point you made, every thing you did to change your life – all of them are so positive and I’m so pleased for you that it’s working out. I think it’s a sign that you’ve made the right choice 🙂

  14. That magic wand! What a brilliant idea. I quit my job 5 months ago for similar reasons and have being going through the very same journey. You’ve put into words so well all my thoughts and experiences through this process, and given me some great ideas to keep moving forward.

    When you’re doubting your choices, It’s so grounding to hear from other people so successfully doing the same thing.

    I hope this process only gets better and better for you!xx

      • I forgot to click notifications so I only just spotted this after spotting it on Twitter. Yes I was a teacher but in higher ed. I hit 6 months next Friday which is a little nerve wracking. I’ve not written off going back to teaching in the future (but not for a long LONG time!) but I think it’s time for me to start looking into non-self employed options again which is nerve wracking and other than retail I’ve only ever done teaching jobs for a long time now, so pretty nerve wracking to get back out there, and try something new.

        On the whole feeling very positive, but it’s definitely an interesting journey!

        Since the school term is very much in full swing again how have you been finding the supply work?

      • Hi Thea! Thanks so much for your comment, and please forgive the late reply! So glad you’re feeling positive! I’m loving the supply work – no hassle, no fuss. It’s amazing!

  15. Good on you! I quit my teaching job to go back to uni in my 30s and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve also got rid of a lot of toxic ‘friends’ and made quite a few other positive changes since. I feel the same as you, no regrets, but wish I’d done it years ago!

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