Whether you enjoy or dislike your job, are planning a long or a short break from work, this could be the ideal time to reflect and ponder over what you might like to do next. Use this time out to your advantage.
As a Career Coach I work with a lot of mums. Some have been out of work a long time, while others are currently on maternity leave and ready to do something different. My advice to all of them is to take this opportunity and make the most of the unique opportunity you have.
Allow yourself the time and space to think about what it is that you actually want to do. Work out what you enjoy, what matters and what provides you with satisfaction in the workplace. Once this has been done start heading in that direction, whether it is a job tweak, enrolling in a course, work experience, volunteering, researching or connecting. But how do you start?
1. Define your goals
The first step is to identify your main career goals. What do you really want out of your working life? Think through your short, medium and long-term.
2. Review your career to date
One of the best places to find clues is to really analyse and look at what you have done in the past. Look at all of the positions you have ever held and work out what you enjoyed, were energised by or you disliked.
3. Work out your purpose
Our purpose is a high-level reason or meaning for why we exist. This takes some soul searching but think through what your intended work role is and purpose of existence. An example being helping and inspiring others to be the best they can be.
4. Work out your values
A value is something that is important to you or something you really believe in. They are individual to you and can usually be expressed by single abstract words. What do you value in life? Family? Ambition? Recognition? Once you have your top 5 or 6 you can adapt your work and life accordingly.
Take time out to think through your USP’s those strengths that are unique and individual to you. Once you have done that highlight the ones that you enjoy as those will provide the most satisfaction.
6. Think through your interests and passions
It may be that a hobby should stay a hobby once properly researched but these should be taken into account. Armed with the above information start designing your ideal job spec and what it would look like, take into account what you should also avoid. Once you have self-knowledge you will be able to move forward with open eyes. Freedom must involve self awareness. Career satisfaction is in your control.
Some further tips for mums on a career break:
- Take time to properly analyse your talents, skills, motivators and strengths. We are often blind to our some of our strengths thinking that everyone does what we do well. To overcome this I suggest asking six people who know you well to identify what yours are.
- Think about what YOU want not what others might expect of you or want you to do or what you think you should be doing.
- Don’t underestimate yourself.
- Educate yourself. Might this be a good time to do some research, volunteering, or to embark on a course?
- Speak to people. Start talking to people who do what you would like to. Use your network. Often people who enjoy what they do are very happy and honoured to be asked.
- Research. Once you have an idea of the area, start researching, all sorts of avenues and information will come out of it.
- Spend time on this. Some people spend more time researching and choosing a washing machine than they do focussing on themselves and what they are suited to work wise.
- Focus on you for a change. We all know that Mum is usually the last one to focus on her needs.
- Be realistic. Think through your current commitments and what is compatible to your lifestyle.
- Get out there. Nobody can do this work for you and it will not come to you, you need to make it happen. As Milton Berle said ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock build a door’.
About the author: Charlotte Billington is a career coach who helps individuals at a crossroads. She has recently written a practical exercise book What to do Next? (available on Amazon) that can assist and guide you through the process.