I often direct readers to Seth Godin’s blog. Godin has that rare skill of capturing complex ideas in clear, concise language. Recently, he hit another home run. Rather than think of our careers as a single calling, we should talk about “caring.” Godin says we care about many things, and those forces should drive how we work. I agree. Moreover, caring lets us balance our work and our non-work lives. If a person’s work keeps her from other things she cares about, she probably should look for a new job. A good salary and the recognition from co-workers or clients are great things. But if that’s all someone has, life is, that person's life is – literally – all work and no play.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
Most of the clients who come to me for help in changing careers aren't looking for more money or a more impressive title. They want to do work that is meaningful, often something that helps other people. If that kind of career changes is appealing to you, start with your values: Who do you want to help? What do you want to change? Once you've established your mission, the next question is how you can best work in that field. For some people that will mean defining transferable skills and demonstrating how you are ready to work in a new field. For some people, the challenge will be to go back to school or to obtain a certificate. The challenge, as President Roosevelt said, is to find work that is worth our effort.
I often praise the writing Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos because it offers a window to the world of lives of real workers. Today she writes about a teacher, Amy Murray, who has written an open letter to parents that gets at the heart of the challenges faced by educators. Murray asks parents to think about the students in her class who are not their children and understand their challenges. She outlines a range of factors that impact academic performance and classroom behavior.
As Clawson puts it, teachers face a tough “balancing act,” which we should remember whenever any critic of education rails against “bad teachers.” Teaching is not simply a matter of presenting a subject of knowledge that can be evaluated by tests. Now, more than ever before, teachers have to deal with factors that have nothing to do with reading, writing, and arithmetic.
I urge you to read Amy Murray’s letter and judge for yourself.