• October 21st, 2020

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The story of today brings us to Melbourne, in Australia. Elizabeth, a Career Transition Coach for Educators and founder of Larksong Enterprises, explains how she moved from a professional career in the education sector to support other teachers in their career transition journey.

  • Elizabeth_ed


My name is Elizabeth Diacos. I grew up in New South Wales Australia, living by the beach and I love to swim in the sea. I’m an avid reader and love to garden, growing vegetables and also poppies and nasturtiums. Nothing makes me happier than being curled up by the fire with a good book.

I'm married with 5 adult children and I now live in damp wintry Melbourne. I love to learn and am blessed/plagued with a curious and creative mind. I began my teaching career on the same day that our youngest child began school, only to discover it was not what I had hoped for.

Now I help teachers get out of teaching and into a life they love!


What were you looking for in life?

I began my career at age 41, the year my youngest child started school. It was dream come true: part time Prep art teacher. 160 bright, creative, curious minds to work with. I worked way above and beyond my 3 days a week but I was so excited to have a career after almost 2 decades of child-raising, I did it with joy. I was a passionate teacher.

I began my teaching career loving every minute of it, and I gave it everything I’d got. I spent every waking moment planning, searching for resources and creating them when I couldn’t find what I needed. I was constantly on the lookout for supplies for the art rooms. In the holidays I would trawl bookshops searching for books, games and puzzles: anything that would help my students have the best experience. My family would come into school and vacuum and scrub, tune instruments, and cut out hundreds of laminated resources to help me set up the room for the year.

What was stopping you from achieving it?

Over time, I realised I couldn’t sustain it. I’m an extrovert, and an optimist, but by the end of first term each year the malaise had begun to set in, and it was getting earlier each year. Sunday nights felt full of dread and on Monday mornings I was overcome with a feeling of heaviness… I just couldn’t bear to put my feet on the ground and drag myself out of bed.

Like many teachers I now work with, every move I made was monitored, checked and scrutinised. I had more and more tasks to do, and less and less power to do them. It was the perfect recipe for stress and demoralisation, and I knew something needed to change. I knew I needed to get out and I knew it would be better for me and for my students if it was sooner rather than later.

Which was the trigger for the change?

When I left Education, I left with grief, hopes dashed and effort unacknowledged. Hard work and dedication was misunderstood for grandstanding. I felt heartbroken, ashamed and so alone. It was like a "death by 1000 cuts."

I’d already begun applying for jobs; dozens and dozens every year. I went to see an HR expert to fix my resume and a career counsellor, but she didn’t really understand what my skills were as a teacher, and she didn’t really drill down into an understanding of what I wanted my life to be like. Meanwhile I was still teaching and some of the students I worked with were showing some really challenging behaviours, and when I asked for help, I just got no support.

When I took some unpaid leave, one of my leading teachers came into my classroom on my last day. I was so pleased…at last, some help, encouragement and support!! …but, no…they just wanted to make sure I handed back my computer.

How was your journey? What did you put in action?

So… I finally limped out of teaching like a wounded animal… I worked with some coaches of to get some real clarity about what I wanted from my life and what I needed to do to start moving forward. One really powerful conversation I had was with a coach who I told I was going to do another certification to teach the course I’d just finished. He said to me, why are you doing that…I said “Well, it’s Plan B, in case I can’t make it as a coach”. He asked me “Why are you working on Plan B?” It was such a powerful question, it just jolted me! Why was I putting my time and energy into something I really did not want to do any more?

How do you think your life would be now if you had continued in the same direction?

If I had continued on that trajectory, I'd be stressed, overwhelmed, and thoroughly exhausted

I'd be overwhelmed with paperwork and using evenings, weekends and holidays to do my planning instead of spending time with my family.

I would be expected to do data gathering and testing on students and constantly expected to get them to complete age-inappropriate tasks, even though I KNEW in my heart it wasn't best practice, or in the best interests of the child, and it went against every fibre of my being to come to work and be forced to be someone other than my authentic self.

How is your life today?

Now I spend my days working with teachers who want to get out of teaching. I help them uncover the desires they have for their ideal life... often they have never given serious thought to that, so it can be a really powerful, transformative conversation. I really invite teachers who are thinking about leaving to come and have a free 10 min triage call with me, because that can often be the catalyst for making that positive change in your life. And for me, what I get out of it is I get to help people co-create a positive future. And so I get to be the art teacher in a different way, which is sculpting lives instead of clay, and I love that.

What would you say to someone reading your story?

If I can offer you any hope or encouragement it would be to create a life you don't need to escape from: back yourself. YOU are not rooted to the spot! You can take action, you can vote with your feet. If you are keen to move on from a stressful work environment, what’s your first step?

Gather a dream team of supportive people around you, or work with a mentor or a coach who can see things from a broader perspective. No-one is coming to rescue you: you must take control.


Which are your top 3 inspiring books?

  • The Infinite Game, by Simon Sinek. His main premise is that “the game” of life/business/family (or whatever) is ongoing and we are players that step in and out of the game, depending on circumstances. He cites many incidences of companies and organisations that have pivoted and gone on for decades…perhaps not making as much money in the short term…but still in the game…living to fight another day. He likens the “money at all costs” philosophy to cutting down the cherry tree so you can get all the cherries.
     Get it in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom,  United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain

  • Limitless, by Jim Kwik. I found it inspiring as the author has some very effective strategies for learning to memorise information, and also addresses optimal performance and nutrition.
     Get it in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom,  United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain

  • Rising Strong, by Brené Brown. I absolutely loved the Audiobook of this as it is read by Brené herself, and she has a marvellous Texan accent that just oozes humour and authenticity. She talks about being authentic and vulnerable and that if we are prepared to let our guard down, we can have a fuller, richer life. Her main premise is "Choose Courage over Comfort".
     Get it in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom,  United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain

Which are your top 3 inspiring movies, series or documentaries?

The Bodyguard. I like this movie because of its intensity and because they show a life very different to my own.

Dances with Wolves. I like this movie for the same reason as The Bodyguard, and because it features Kevin Costner.

I feel Pretty. A surprisingly insightful movie about a girl who finds self-confidence and changes the way everyone around her responds to her. It really does show you that you can influence your own outcomes by your behaviour and the way you present yourself to the world.

Which are your top 3 favourite songs?

Girl on Fire, by Alicia Keyes. I find it powerful uplifting and inspiring.

Feather, by Alan Anthony Silvestri. This is actually the title track from the film "Forrest Gump". It is uplifting and peaceful and I used to play it for my junior classes when I wanted to settle them down to their work.

I will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor. Another anthem for women everywhere to take control of their own wellbeing. I love 70's disco music!

Which is your most inspiring quote?

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from., by Seth Godin. This is the quote one of my teaching colleagues sent to me while I was in a flurry of applying for new jobs. It stopped me in my tracks! Why was I applying for more jobs in the same role I wanted to leave? So, inspired by Godin’s words, I began setting up a life I don’t need to escape from…a life of balance, creativity, autonomy and productivity.

Tell us about your own favourite picture!

Picture After the Rain

On a recent afternoon walk by my local creek, I took this photo. The grass was still wet, but the whole world seemed still and peaceful.

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