When to Try Harder and When to Walk Away

The thought of walking away is tempting. Just the notion makes me breathe a little easier. Walk a little lighter.

And feel a little guiltier.

Because I’m really not sure if I’m making excuses or making decisions.

For the past few years (ever since The Great Life Upheaval of 2009), I’ve been looking for a way out of teaching. It’s not that I don’t like the classroom, it’s that I would like a career that doesn’t put me in a literal box on a regimented schedule. I would like a venture that isn’t quite as susceptible to the party line of politicians seeking election. I would like a path that utilizes all of my skills. And I would love the opportunity to procure an income based upon my performance and value rather than one that is determined by a spreadsheet.

And so, about a year and a half ago, when friends and Brock encouraged me to obtain my real estate license, I was intrigued. I have always had an interest in real estate and I knew that I had a skill set that would match. But I was also cautious; I had trouble seeing how I could realistically build a real estate business and teach (especially given that I refuse to teach at anything less than my best) at the same time.

But I was convinced. Assured that it was possible. That the hours and demands were complementary.

And so last summer, I threw myself into it. I networked. I completed the continuing education requirements. I drew up a marketing plan. I became versed in the surrounding communities.

And then my few weeks of freedom came to a crashing end once classes resumed. Instead of keeping up with the market, I was keeping up with my students. I fell further and further behind.

But I continued to hope that somehow it would work and I would be released from the classroom the following year.

This entire year, I’ve struggled. I’ve put effort into real estate when I could. Which was never as much as I felt I should. When I tried, I felt frustrated because of the limitations of time, energy and knowledge. When I didn’t try, I felt guilty for my lack of effort.

I feel like I’m just not trying hard enough. After all, everybody said I could do it. So it must be my fault that I can’t seem to get off the ground.

But I’ve discovered a strange thing. The more effort I put into trying to get out of teaching, the less happy I am in the classroom. When I allow myself to be professionally consumed by teaching, I am more content with where I am.

I’m at a crossroads right now. In another week, my summer officially begins. This is when I can dive into real estate without limitations.

But I’m realizing I don’t want to.

I don’t want to build when I know I’m going to hit a wall again when school resumes in late July.

I don’t want to compromise and give clients or students less than my all.

I don’t want to spend the summer trying to escape when I am already under contract for the next school year.

I don’t want to keep brushing off inquires about the status of the real estate venture. Inquiries that always make me feel like a failure.

And I’ve been more okay about teaching lately. I don’t feel as underpaid now that I am finally receiving my full pay after spending an average of $16,000 per year for the past five years on ex-husband related expenses. I feel proud as I watch my former students graduate with honors from prestigious universities. And I feel honored when students’ eyes fill with tears as they say goodbye to me at the end of the school year (I even had one check back in for 7th period on Friday just to say bye!). And, even though the current testing and teacher evaluation system is asinine, I feel appreciated when I receive positive feedback.

I think I want to walk away from my foray into real estate. At least for now.

But I feel like I’m letting people down.

Those that believed in me.

And the me that believed in me too.

Because I’m not sure if I’m making excuses or making decisions.

I don’t really know if I’m being honest that I can’t build it while I am teaching, or if I’m too afraid to try.

I’m uncertain if I should try harder or walk away.

I have a few more days of commitment to the school before the year officially wraps. I’m going to give myself those few days to make the decision.

To try harder or to walk away.

Related: Quitting vs Letting Go

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13 thoughts on “When to Try Harder and When to Walk Away

  1. I understand feeling guilty for not putting your all into something. i have always had the motto “do it well or don’t do it at all.’ I can’t do “good enough”.
    I have also found that when I don’t know what to do, do nothing. Remain open to whatever comes your way. I seems to me that life will make your decisions for you if you just “be still and let things unfold”. We often feel we MUST make a decision and then make the wrong one.
    You might have to take a leap of faith and jump in with both feet, do with a little less money for a while in order to do a job that excites you and challenges you. Teaching is what you know and where you feel safe, it is easy to stay with what you know.
    I don’t see how a person can only do real estate for a couple of months, I have heard that a realtor needs at least a year to get their clientele and enough houses on the market for the money to start flowing and I don’t see how you can teach and do real estate, they are two full time jobs.
    But like I said, whenever I have had to make a major life decision and didn’t know what to do I just did nothing and something happened to make the decision a no brainer in the end.
    Good luck! i will look forward to hearing what the summer brings.

  2. Follow your heart! Real Estate is not an easy business. My Dad had a passion for it but it was never his main profession. He was lucky enough to have a close friend with a RE Agency who allowed him to swoop in, sell a few houses (usually for $$ for awesome family vacations or private school tuition lol) and then swoop back out for a few months. He still keeps his Brokers license but now is retired and just enjoying living. Good luck whatever you decide 🙂

      1. Exactly! U just need to find someone who can work with you. And yes he is! We tell him he better just leave enough $$ to bury him in 20 years lol!!!

  3. I just passed the first of three online real estate exams…it is a commitment. More so than I initially realized. I can relate to setting goals that may take obligatory effort from the other(s) due to lack of time, not interest. Your students are so lucky to have you! Real estate will always be there. Don’t add more unnecessary pressure to your life. Enjoy some well deserved down time over the summer with your hubby, and if you find a moment to answer real estate inquiries or do some research – great! If not, no worries!!!

  4. I believe decisions should never be made when you’re in turmoil. Relax. And the answer will unfold in time. Is there anyway, if not this year then next, to take a leave of absence from teaching? If after a year of focusing on real estate it is not everything you dreamed it would be — you would have lost a year’s salary and a year toward retirement but you’d have some experience to back up you’re decision.

    1. I wish! The only way a job is held here is for medical reasons (and that’s just a guarantee that you’ll have a job in the county, not the same school/position). We sign contracts in the early spring that run through the following summer.

      My good friend says that education is like the mafia; you have to die to get out. And sometimes it feels that way if you’re not willing to break contract (and risk losing your certification). I plan to maintain my teaching certification if/once I leave as a fall-back plan, but I also have to be mentally prepared to walk away for good at that point. And I don’t think I’m there yet, especially because I have a principal whom I love. Now when she leaves, it may be a different story!

      Thanks!

      1. It’s interesting that we are striving for a common curriculum for students but the rights of teachers vary significantly from state to state or even school district to school district. I know what you mean about the boss. I stayed at a job and turned down one I thought might be close to my dream job because I had a great boss. He left soon after and with the new boss (the opposite of great) — I knew it was definitely time to make a change. Who knows maybe someday you will combine your two passions and teach a real estate course. Good Luck.

      2. Thanks! I’ve thought about that combo too. Right now, I’m working on a web- based moving on from victim hood course. It’s really cool using my skills with curriculum design and teaching in a new way.

        As for teacher rights, so true. I’m not a default union supporter, but when I contrast teacher pay and conditions with my non-union state to others, it does make me want more power to create change.

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