Back to work
I have had two weeks away from work. I used to dread going back; focussing on the early mornings and the noise. Seventeen children armed with saxophones waiting for me through the winding corridors of the school. I'd have rushed out of my house, skipped breakfast and no time for coffee, to try and speak over the echoing honks that filled my days.
Work hasn't really changed over the past few years. But I have.
And I am so proud and pleased to say that I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love what I do. I love the impact I have on the children I work with. I love how much I laugh. Work hasn't changed. But I really, really have.
If you want to know my secret, it's quite simple. I got rid of everything that didn't matter; eliminated every distraction that didn't bring value. This may have started with me decluttering my wardrobe but it soon turned into a mindset that feels like an oasis. I am no longer distracted by misplaced values or feelings of inadequacy. I no longer struggle to remember to be grateful that I get to do my job. I get to drive my own car to a job that I enjoy doing. I am so, so lucky. And it's not that I didn't know I was lucky before - I knew it - but I didn't feel it.
There are three main things I have learned that may help anyone who was in a similar situation:
1. Work can be a source of stress, yes, but it is also so commonplace for us to blame work for stress that it might be worth asking yourself whether it is the true cause.
I can't speak for the rest of the world but, certainly in England, we are used to complaining. We complain about the weather, our neighbours, that terrible cup of tea we were made the other day and, most commonly, our jobs. If we do not, we would be considered boastful. With a readymade list of stress-triggers handed to us by society, it is easy to pin our grievance onto one of these things. I found that once most of my possessions had gone, so did my stress. I would never have seen that coming.
2. Gratitude needs space
You can smother gratitude. You can know it's there but be unable to see it through the thickets of everyday crap. Make some space to be able to properly acknowledge what you have.
3. Work is important but not as important as everything else
My attitude to my job changes when it's the only thing I do. When it's the height of winter and leaving the house for anything that isn't a necessity feels like staring death in the face, I don't like work as much. I start to blame it for stealing my daylight hours and keeping me from what I enjoy doing. So I try, as much as possible, to keep my job one of the things that I do. This makes me appreciate it more and I end up being much happier (and better at my job) for it.