Reentering the Workforce on Your Terms

Picture this, you have been given a gift of two free days to spend as you would like, without your children or spouse. How would you choose to spend those days?   I would choose to work!  Yes, work is what fuels my soul and how I show up in the world outside of my family.  I, like many people, have a to-do list that is a mile long.  I also have dreams of girl’s weekends with spa treatments.  However, working gives me a place to express my ideas and have my talents validated by that other important thing…money!

Does this sound familiar? Do you want to go back to work with purpose?  Do you want to have more meaningful work show up in your life?

First you must ask yourself, “Who are you doing it for?”  If this answer is anyone but YOU…it is time to think about your motivation.  Work, true work, purposeful work is simply the action of your true nature.  It is an expression of you and will feel easeful and joyful. Children engage in purposeful work with passion and inspiration.  When you give a child a meaningful task they often rise to the occasion and are pleased with their result.  This pleasure comes from the inside, not external rewards.  They are working because they are a part of the family and a larger society.  This “meaningful work” mindset is what we need to engage when we think about returning to work or creating new opportunities. With meaningful work on the horizon, try thinking through these next three steps to create your strategy for reentering the workforce.

Step One

The first step in going back to work on your terms is to define those terms. Start by carving out some uninterrupted time and get specific and creative with your terms. Imagine a time when you felt empowered and engaged with your work. You can reach as far back as childhood or perhaps a recent project to find a time when you felt a sense of flow and all other things seemed to fall away. When you are immersed in this sense of flow, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does you ideal day look like?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • Who do you want to work with/for/in service of?
  • Are you more inspired working in a group of people or by yourself?
  • Do you prefer working in a natural setting or a posh office?
  • What kind of time commitment are you interested in?
  • How much flexibility to you need and want?
  • How far are you willing to commute?
  • Do you want to work on projects or a contract basis?

Defining your terms before you go back to work will help you to practice creating your future from the inside out. The more specific you are in defining your ideal work situation, the more successful you will be in attaining it. This is not to say that the perfect environment will appear as soon as you define it, but it will give you a roadmap for what you are looking for.

Step Two

The next step in reentering the workforce is to activate your network. Spread the word about your intentions to go back to work with emphasis on your terms.  Don’t be afraid to let people know that you intend to work part-time or from home. If you are feeling a bit lost, start by identifying with a few role models. Who are the people that you know that work and have a balanced personal and family life?  I like to think of these role models in the context of masters and apprentices.  Seek out two or three of these masters and undertake an informal apprenticeship.  Invite your role models to coffee for an informational interview. Ask them about their greatest challenges to success or their top three life lessons.  Women love to help each other and masters love to teach.

Step Three

Finally, you may need to update your skills or get the training and education you need to be competitive in the marketplace.  This initial outlay of time and money may create an invaluable path to reentering a career.  This choice demonstrates that you are committed to your field and to yourself. As you put yourself out there through training and networking, you are more likely to attract the kind of job that will fulfill your needs.

Defining your terms, activating your network and updating your skills will give you a strategy for reentering the workforce. However, there are numerous places to get stuck along this journey to finding purposeful work in the right environment.

If you would like some support with your reentry strategy, I am available.

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