So I haven’t blogged for the past couple of days as I’ve been away. I visited the New Forest – and it’s gorgeous. We had lovely bright sunshine on the Sunday and were able to sit out in the garden, although yesterday it rained all day so we stayed indoors.
I was there with a group of female friends. As mums of children of varying ages, inevitably the topic of getting back to work after having children came up. We shared some of our fears and worries when we first went back to work (lack of confidence, rusty IT skills, gaps on the CV etc) and indeed the challenges that we still face juggling work and family life. Are we present enough for our children when we are at home? What happens when your childminder is sick but you’ve got work commitments that you can’t cancel? Are other people in the office giving you dirty looks when leave work ‘on time’?
This topic comes up frequently with my clients – I have developed a seven-step strategy to help them rebuild confidence, review and refresh their skills, and really identify what is most important to them about being a mum and going back to work.
The seven steps that I take my clients through are:
Step 1 – Know who you are
What sort of person are you? Are you outgoing or reserved? Task-focussed or people-focussed? What’s your learning style? How do you communicate best? How do you like people to communicate and interact with you? I use DISC profiling to go deeper on WHO you are. I think it’s important to understand what motivates you, what environment suits you best, whether you are a detail person etc. For example some might be motivated by a challenge while others are motivated by knowledge and expertise. Others do their best work independently, while others thrive as part of a big team.
Step 2 – Know what you are
‘What’ you are encompasses all your past experiences, skills, strengths and preferences. I encourage clients to get feedback from others; to think about their transferable skills; and really brainstorm ALL their skills, experiences and learnings, not just what is on your CV. For example have you done any volunteering? Do you get involved in your local community? Budget management on a simple scale is managing the household budget. Conflict management is just as important when dealing with toddlers as it is with adults!
Step 3 – Know what you want
So often we end up in jobs or careers ‘by accident’. We get promoted, we move up the career ladder, and then when we get to the top, sometimes we find the ladder was up against the wrong wall. One of three things happens a) you realise your ladder is in the wrong place and you move it b) you realise your ladder is in the wrong place but you don’t know how to move it and so you get stuck or c) you don’t realise your ladder is in the wrong place, you feel unhappy, and find yourself going through the motions, without really understanding why you hate your job. Knowing what you want is about clarifying whether your ladder is in the right place and if it isn’t, where do you need to move it to. It’s about exploring what YOU want and not what somebody else thinks you ought to want. What is your true purpose? What do you bring to the world that nobody else does? What makes you truly joyful? What could you do forever for free? Does that make sense?
Step 4 – Ditch the Guilt
Guilt can be a significant barrier or challenge for working mums, or mums preparing to go back to work. Ditching the guilt and understanding what is most important to you about being a mum is essential. This step is all about how to be a brilliant mum, AND get the financial independence or intellectual stimulation that you want, without twisting yourself in knots with guilt.
Step 5 – Know what you need
Once you have figured out who you are, what you are, what you want, then you can start to identify what you need in order to get what you want. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But how are you going to get what you want unless you know what it is. This step is about identifying what skills you need, how to acquire (or refresh) those skills, what practical strategies or tools you need, and what is missing.
Step 6 – Know how to get there
Now it is time to create your action plan. You know who you are, what is special about you and your experience, what is most important to you, what you really want to do, and what skills, or tools you need. None of that will happen unless you build a strong and confident action plan. For some clients, this is the most exciting bit. Down to brass tacks, taking action, and moving forward.
Step 7 – Where to get support
Finally it is important to identify what support you need and where will you get that support? This could be a coach, a friend, work colleague, or another mum going through the same or similar experience.
Following this simple 7 step strategy will empower you to take strong and confident decisions. If you would like more detail on questions that you can ask yourself in this 7 step system so that you too can take control of your life and go back to work with confidence, then join me on my webinar Wednesday 8 October at 8.15pm BST. It’s quick and easy to sign up online.
I’d love to see you there.