Many things stop mums going back to work after maternity leave or taking a career break. Like anything, the longer you delay, the harder it seems.
Going back to work isn’t a simple equation. Often mums are torn between the financial incentive to earn money, the desire for intellectual stimulation and adult conversation, the knowledge that the longer you put off going back, the harder it is to get back on the career ladder, and the biological imperative to be with their children.
Are you tying yourself in knots?
Often when mums come to see me for help, they have been thinking about going back to work for some time. Months even. They’d planned to go back when the kids started school in September, and a few months later, they’re still planning to go back. By the time they talk to me for the first time, they’re tying themselves in knots because they don’t know what they want. And because they don’t know what they want, they don’t know where to start, or what help they need and stay stuck. And frustrated. All the time, they’re telling themselves to just get on with it. But it’s difficult to get on with it when you don’t know what ‘it’ is.
Perhaps this is you too. You’re not sure whether to go back to work full-time, maybe part-time is more appealing but financially it’s not the ‘logical’ decision.
Or you have thought about taking your corporate skills and working on freelance basis. But you know there’s less security when you’re working for yourself. Maybe starting a business is right for you.
The number one reason that stops mums going back to work
The number one reason that stops mums going back to work is lack of clarity and confidence. Once you have made the decision and take action, many other factors get in the way such as lack of quality part-time roles, flexible working opportunities, high cost of childcare, investment required to retrain or reskill.
But first, you need clarity about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. I’d like to think that my forthcoming Back to Work Confidence guide will address some of these issues.
How to find the clarity you need to go back to work
Here are my top tips to help you find the clarity you need to go back to work with confidence.
Identify your values
First you need to identify what are the most important things to you about being a mum. I talk about values to all my clients. Understanding your values will really help you to understand who and what you are. Values are intangibles such as freedom, creativity, security, integrity, stability, love, honesty, joy or independence.
Understanding your values is about understanding why you do what you do. It’s about identifying what you feel most strongly about. We all have a value system and this affects everything we do, how we behave, and how we feel. Your values are your unspoken rules and regulations; the terms and conditions by which you live your life.
It is important to understand your values so that you make decisions that will sit right with you. If security and stability are really core values for you, you might feel more comfortable going back into employment – you know when you will get paid, you will have sickness and holiday payment, you know how many hours you will work each week, etc. On the other hand if flexibility, independence and creativity are your core values, working freelance might suit you.
Just get started
If you keep putting off doing something about going back to work, the bigger the barrier it becomes. There are a few reasons that we put off doing something: we want to be perfect, we want approval, we want to be sure of the outcome, or we don’t want it to be hard. Getting started doesn’t need to be a big step. It could be a very small step such as find your CV or log into LinkedIn and update your profile or telephone just one recruitment agency.
The trick to getting started with one small step, is that it doesn’t need to be the perfect step. It might not even be the logical first step. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the next step after that is going to be. Just get started with one small step and that WILL give you the energy and motivation to take the next step too. Even if you still don’t know whether you want to go back to employment, change career or start a business. Just take one small step and see where it takes you.
Develop a positive mindset
Lots of the mums I often talk to have talked themselves into a negative mindset. “I’m too old to change career”, “I hated my last job”, “I’ll never find a job with the hours that I want” or “I’m useless at technology and I’ll never be able to catch up”. Is that you?
When you have a negative mindset and you tell yourself negative thoughts, the brain has a sneaky way of believing what you think even when it’s not true. For example, you are never too old to change career. Just because you hated your last job doesn’t mean to say that you’ll hate your next job. OK you might not find a job with the perfect hours, however that’s not a reason to not even try. Technology is moving fast … however if you learnt the previous systems, you can learn the current systems too. And there are plenty of free online IT courses to help you refresh our skills.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, notice those thoughts and then reframe or rephrase them. For example “I hated my last job” becomes “I am looking forward to finding a job that I love”. You can rephrase “I’m useless at technology” and instead say “Every time I use the system, I learn something new”.
These are just three tips to help you find the clarity that you need to go back to work. Understand your values and what’s most important to you because that underpins everything you do. Just get started. Start today. In fact leave a comment below and tell me what small step you are going to take as soon as you have finished reading this article. Finally you will feel so much better and have much more confidence when you develop a nurture a positive mindset.
Is lack of clarity stopping you going back to work?
If you know that lack of clarity is what stops you going back to work, and you also know that you could do with some help, let’s talk to find out whether I can help you. I specialise in helping women figure out what they want, even if you’re uncertain what you want the end result to be. Click here to find a date and time that works for you.
There’s no obligation to work with me however I warn you now, I am an action taker! I can guarantee you’ll come away with at least one action to get you started and go back to work with confidence.