Two Signs That It’s Time for a Change
Marlena Musselman Fox is a good friend and past client of Pace Success Coaching. She is excited to be sharing her story as a guest blogger for this community!
Have you ever written something down, just to get it out of your head and process what you’re thinking? If you have, you can understand that writing about my career change has been a totally cathartic and rewarding experience. In addition, the positivity and encouragement from friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers has been uplifting as I shared my story publicly about changing careers. But I also have to be honest and transparent about the last three months. As amazing as this transformation has been, it hasn’t always been easy.
A few weeks ago, I had a great time painting, drinking wine, and catching up with some lovely former co-workers. It was so nice to reconnect with everyone. It’s unbelievable to think that June is so close for them, when it really felt so far away when I left. And as wonderful as that afternoon was, you know what? I cried uncontrollably the entire way home. And for the last week or so, I’ve had nothing but teacher dreams. Dreams of teaching, of showing up late, of not showing up at all, of students, of grading. I imagine a lot of this is natural when you leave something behind that was such a huge part of you; I know that I will always miss it.
And while I’m incredibly grateful for the experience and everything that I learned from that chapter in my life, I am so much happier now!
Looking back over my life, I have had many experiences that prepared me to make this career move. I’ve left other opportunities and relationships, and I’ve learned over and over that I am resilient and that I can be happier. I’ve noticed that this isn’t the first time that a big decision, a hard decision, a heartbreaking decision, worked out in my favor.
For those of you that may be working through something now or are unsure if it’s time for a change, here are two things to consider that may help you:
1) Listen to your tears … or your itchy eyebrows.
In my second year of teaching, I became the assistant coach for the girl’s volleyball team. By the start of the next season, I was the head coach. I was not particularly aiming for this position, nor did I anticipate that I would be very good at it. It was something that was gently pushed on me at the time, and I felt the pressure as a newer teacher to take on the responsibility to prove my worth.
During those three years with the team, I learned a whole lot about coaching and much more about the sport. I had a strong, supportive coaching staff, but I was bogged down by girl drama, entitled attitudes, incessant parent phone calls and unsolicited input, and my own insecurity about what I was doing. My body was reacting to the stress in strange ways — not only was I crying often, but my eyebrows would get really, really itchy. I knew this was a sign of serious stress, as I had previously experienced another “itchy” episode in college during my first-ever finals week. I had lost a lot of weight as well, and I finally accepted that I was stretched too thin. I knew that “proving my worth” did not mean that I had to sacrifice my self-care and happiness, so I resigned.
While I’m incredibly grateful for the experience and everything that I learned from that chapter in my life, I am so much happier now. Once I resigned, I was able to spend more energy on teaching, and I could focus on taking care of myself. I signed up shortly thereafter for an adult volleyball league to PLAY the sport that I loved.
What’s my point?
If you find yourself crying more often than normal or experiencing strange bodily reactions, these are signs that you’re unhappy. Listen to your body, because sometimes it’s sending you physical red flags to make you aware of something you may not have yet fully realized mentally or emotionally.
2) Measure your happiness in any given situation using a percentage.
Another time where it was very clear to me that I had to make a hard decision was a year or so into an unhealthy relationship. While I truly believed that he could be the one, I was crying a lot (again). I was scared about my future with him, but I was also scared to start over and to have a future without him. One day when I was pretty upset, I called my best friend, and during our conversation, she asked me a question that stunned me. “Marlena, what percentage of the time are you happy in this relationship?” I had to stop and really think, and I estimated that I was happy somewhere between 50-60% of the time. Of course, she reminded me that I deserve to be happy 95% of the time in my relationship and that this kind of relationship was very possible for me.
In that moment, I couldn’t believe that I was so far from being happy. I knew that I deserved better, but leaving an unhealthy relationship is a lot easier said than done. About three months passed from this conversation to the actual breakup. And once things had ultimately ended, it still took me over a year to find strength, peace, and hope.
While I’m incredibly grateful for the experience and everything that I learned from that chapter in my life, I am so much happier now.
Within two years, I met Andrew, who is now my wonderful husband, and I am lucky to report that I am truly happy 95% of the time in my marriage. Evaluating your happiness and rating it with a percentage can certainly be eye-opening, and it truly is a great litmus test. I’ve used it time and time again — most recently regarding my teaching career.
If you’re unhappy and working through a change, or you think you’re ready for a change, listen to your body and let it propel you forward. And if your body isn’t sending you red flags, maybe it’s time to rate your happiness.
You too deserve to be happy 95% of the time, whether it’s with your career, a relationship, or some other opportunity that has come your way.
Every little victory, every big change, every step of growth, even every setback, has put you in a position to live your best life. Take some time to look back at the challenges you’ve faced and the things that you’ve overcome. You are amazing!