On this episode of Teaching Change, Courtney and Jerrid discuss the importance of self-care. This is a buzzword that has been bandied about lately because it is vitally important to check in with yourself to make sure everything is okay. By self-care, the Teaching Change hosts are referring to taking the time to nurture your well-being both mentally and physically to ensure you are being mindful of your own needs. People in the social entrepreneurship field are driven by their passions to improve the lives of others and their communities. So much so, that they may not pause to do a self-assessment of what they need to function at the most optimal levels. This could lead to burnout.
While Courtney has never ventured into social entrepreneurship, she had her own bout of burnout as a middle school Language Arts teacher. Her downfall was that her unique circumstances did not allow for adequate downtime in which she could rejuvenate her mind and spirit and gear up for the next day. As a public school teacher, Courtney felt like her work followed her everywhere and thus she was constantly on the clock. Whether it was grading papers, preparing lesson plans, or classroom management, her teacher responsibilities took over her identity until there was room for little else. Thus, she burned out after only two years.
Your career choice and workplace can greatly affect opportunities for self-care. Jerrid recounts a work environment where employees felt they needed to work long hours in order to demonstrate their value to the employer. This did not quite mesh with how Jerrid wanted to live his life as a dedicated father, husband, and family man. He made the difficult decision to quit, which carried its own pressures so he could lead the type of life he’d envisioned for himself. This turned out to be a great decision on his part. It was, after all, one of the roads that led him to Valencia where he feels very fortunate to have landed. At his current place of employment, Jerrid has the freedom to explore his varied interest and still maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The show concludes with Jerrid’s account of a friend who suffered years of unfulfillment at the job before he’d finally had enough. Although the friend was making a six-figure salary, the company’s culture and mission were not aligned with what he needed to be motivated in the work. Twenty years later the friend finally resigned from the position and began working for a nonprofit that fits better with his purpose. Although Jerrid acknowledges the friend probably took a sizable pay cut, the purging of a toxic work environment and philosophy more than made up for the difference.
Would you be willing to make that decision? Questions such as this one are important to consider as we continue the conversation. Difficult decisions and sacrifices may have to be made in the name of self-care. For if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we won’t be of any use to those we aspire to help.