One of the main reasons for moving away from teaching was a lack of work-life balance, which was emphasised when our daughter came along two and a half years ago. It made me feel like a failure that I could no longer sacrifice myself for 50-60 hours a week to be able to manage my job. In the past, in my late 20s and early 30s, I would not have batted an eyelid at starting work at 7am, leaving school at 5pm, and then working in the evenings and my weekends, not to mention the days during holidays trying to catch-up on marking and everything else that needed doing. A constant supply of work emails through to my phone, and invading my personal laptop, and all that added up to being a successful person!
It was ingrained in me that success as a teacher was directly linked to the number of hours you worked, if you were seen carrying bags of books home of an evening, how much extra you were willing to do for the school and kids, regardless of the impact on your mental or physical health, relationships, etc. For me this is epitomised by the notion of teacher guilt when you have a day off ill, or actually have a social event during the week.
All this led to plenty of stress, mental and physical health issues, that resulted in me leaving the profession after 15 years. But things change, and having 2 wonderful kids, really put things into perspective about ending my teaching career.
I now feel I have a far better understanding of what success is. I can work as much as I want during the week, I have much more time for my family, have time to train for triathlons, can watch a football match and not be surrounded by a set of marking. I can manage my time 100% and be as flexible as I need, I can have more that 20 odd minutes for a lunch break, I can enjoy silence and have music to work to should I choose. I can devote so much time to CPD that immediately has impact on me and my business. We can do things as a family and I don't have that niggling thought in my brain about all the work that needs doing yesterday.
Having my own business is a breath of fresh air compared to being in education. Everyone asks do I miss it? And the honest answer is "NO! But with caveats." I realised after a lot of reflection over the past 18 months, that the things I missed about teaching were from a time when I was in the class room more. The first two schools I worked at hold the majority of my good memories as a teacher, and the second two most of my worst. It is obviously not as clear cut as that, but the things I miss and long for about teaching are so far removed, that I can't honestly say I do miss it. Having said that, some old students of mine got in touch with me this year, and to hear they have been successful makes me very happy and proud!
So in summary, I feel more successful as a person being now than I ever did as a teacher, because I have time to be a Father & Husband & Entrepreneur & Triathlete and not just a stressed over worked teacher trying to squeeze everything in, unsuccessfully.