If you’re feeling more nervous than excited about returning to work then read on…
You’re not alone.
It’s a common feeling regardless of how long you’ve been away. Write a list of why you feel nervous. Getting your thoughts onto a piece of paper and out of your head gives you a tangible list of issues to work through with a friend, mentor or coach. Plus it can help rationalise those early-hours feeling of panic or overwhelm that may creep up on you.
Remember how it was.
Write a list of what you enjoyed about going to work. How did you feel about working with your team? What gave you a sense of achievement or accomplishment? Write down some dot points to remind you of funny office stories. Remember the compliments that came your way on a job well done. Consider how it will feel to be back in the workforce having some very different conversations than the ones you are likely having day to day at home.
Consider if the job you are returning to is right for you now.
Assess the practicalities and the financials but don’t let them pigeonhole you. There’s always an alternative solution and going back to a job you despise or travel you hate, is not a great way to spend your time. Time is the most precious resource we have.
You can get help to come up with some fresh ideas through research or return to work coaching. You probably spent the latter half of your pregnancy seeing things through at your current role, knowing you were going on leave. But you may have a different perspective or priorities now, you may want to go for a promotion or payrise to better support the life goals you have now. You may want to be part-time or utilise flexible working arrangements.
Keep your dreams alive.
What does an ideal day look like for you now? Map it out and write a list, because ‘Imagination is a preview of life’s coming attractions’ (The Secret). If you are used to having one family income already then now could be a good time to consider a career change, contracting, further training, or moving to a different role.
You’re great at what you do.
It’s a great time to remind yourself what you offer the world. Update your LinkedIn page or resume, not because you are necessarily looking for a new role, but to remind yourself of your skillset and what you do well.
Plus, you can update your resume or account with any courses you’d forgotten to add, or anything new you’ve learned while you have been away. Language changes all the time so you could refresh your bio or edit the content to more closely reflect who you are now and what you offer. Turn off ‘update my network’ in LinkedIn settings until you are comfortable publishing the changes.
Catch up on Industry News for 15 Minutes a Day.
What do you know about changes to your type of job or changes to your industry? Following industry leaders is a great place to start. You can follow topics you are interested in. You don’t need to comment right now but reading other people’s comments could start firing up part of your primary work-personality that perhaps has been dormant for a while.
Assess the Practicalities.
No one likes a back to work routine surprise. So have a rehearsal before you go. Give your baby a day care test run. Hop on or in your chosen transport method with the baby and check accessibility at the time you want to travel.
If you’re on public transport you want to know that the bus you plan to use is pushchair-accessible at the time you want to catch it. It’s also easy to have forgotten how much longer everything takes at rush-hour. Let’s face it – most of us would happily forget the crowded commute experience!
Look for a win-win with your employer.
When you go in to chat about your return be open minded but don’t feel you have to agree to anything right there and then. It’s ok to take time to think about any changes they propose (in line with legal requirements).
But if you take the time to review your own role before you go in you will have an advantage. It’s easy to just keep turning up to work each day and not realise that your role has already morphed, or the type of people using the product or service has changed.
It’s ok to want more and it’s ok to ask for what you want. If you want more flexibility to avoid rush-hour, or can propose a role change or project that you think can benefit you and the business, then go in with a well-reasoned case that has considered any roadblocks you can foresee.
Thinking innovatively and working well with others is never an out-dated skill. Coaching can help you create a plan that brings together mindset, opportunity, ideas and action to get you where you want to go in your career.
Jo Morrison is a Career Growth Specialist and Business Founder Coach. Prior to launching Go Go Mojo Coaching (gogomojo.com.au) she was Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director at INCUBATE (incubate.org.au) the program for early stage founders at the University of Sydney and she coached innovation within corporate businesses. Jo offers practical coaching and Mojo Action Plans to help navigate your career or launch your business.