As A Return-To-Work Career Woman, Are You Really Equipped For The Comeback?

So you're keen to return to work after a career break. But are you really equipped for the transition to working again?

There are times when a career break can’t be meticulously planned.

Having navigated such a situation personally, I felt it pertinent to write about the experience.

The break was inevitable as I embraced motherhood.

It is fair to say that one is never completely prepared for what follows, once one decides to return to the workplace. The battle of adjustments is on two fronts-personal and professional. Being women, multi-skilling is second nature so the situation doesn’t remain unmanageable.

How did I balance the cause and effect?

Acceptance – this goes deeper than a mere outward acceptance by the play of words or a physical demonstration. I started prepping mentally about 6 months in advance. The decision to go in for a career break viz-a-viz the allocated maternity leave was well thought out and more a medical necessity. I developed lower back pain owing to a condition of lumbar spondylosis which made long sitting or even standing difficult and painful. I opted not to extend the maternity leave as I was sure it wouldn’t be enough. With an older child who needed equal or rather more attention, the decision seemed inevitable.

For me, acceptance came from being aware of the present reality. I did not try to wrestle it. Instead, I accepted it. It ensured that I stood by the decision and aligned all actions with reality. And here is where this quote by Maya Angelou seems apt, “This wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. Gratefully.”

Having an Anchor – So what does an anchor do? It keeps the sea vessel from drifting. Comparably so, an anchor keeps the human soul from drifting away. What is an Anchor? It can be any person, place or thing that brings back the focus and helps collect all the inner wisdom thus lifting the fog over the future path. For me, the anchor is prayer. Amongst my friends and family whom I have pushed towards identifying their anchors, none has returned empty-handed from the search. For some, it is music, a walk in the park,  or possibly a shopping spree. 😊 Prayer, my anchor helped me support my decision in the reality that surrounded me. It tugged hard when I began to drift, bringing me back with fervor and zeal.

Knowing the drivers – the anchor keeps me rooted. At the same time, it was important to know what was pushing me on. Over the years, I have across many women sailing in the same boat that I was in. When I enquire about where they are headed, mostly the answer is a casual shrug followed by, “Just going with the flow” or “Will see when I hit the crossroads!” My experience taught me that going with the flow unplanned could just push one towards rocky bottoms and mid-stream boulders. It was my anchor that helped me gain insight into what drives me. It was firstly, financial independence and secondly, becoming a role model for my children. I was very sure that I wanted them to identify with my sense of duty, and focus and gain the skill of multi-tasking. Once the drivers emerge, the flow becomes easy to navigate.

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Staying Relevant – Ah! The most important of all my learnings is this. The goal was to return to my career. I wasn’t yet sure when but was definite that it would happen. Staying relevant is a challenge when a career break happens. The steps I took involved –

  • Knowing where I wanted to be when I got back. Deciding if it meant working part-time, full-time, or as a freelancer.
  • What skills can help me stay relevant in my field of work?
  • Exploring options of pro-bono/volunteer work depending on skills and time availability
  • Staying connected with corporate acquaintances and friends
  • Most essentially, having a mentor or coach to use as a sounding board, seek inputs, share fears, and continue delving into the inner wisdom.

Each of our journeys is unique. So are the experiences.

What remains the same is that no fear, doubt, and state of mind is permanent. Accepting and cruising along is a wonderful experience where we meet many beautiful, like-minded people whose learnings become ours too.

When the river reaches the plains, a vast expanse filled with roadblocks greets it. It is overwhelming. Yet the river takes a pause, slows down, and charts its course afresh. So is life.

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About the Author

Saravjot Hansrao

life has always been about waking up with a renewed passion each day. I owe my inner strength to blessings of the eternal truth God, my bringing up amidst real heroes of the Indian Army read more...

10 Posts | 1,647 Views

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