Perhaps you are a bit like me. The turn of the season or the start of a new year fuels you with energy and you charge ahead, diving right into a project or personal commitment. Let's not even go down the road of fitness goals! Without the right plan, we all know how things can end up.
It can be exciting thinking about going back to work, reconnecting with that professional waiting to get back in the game. It can also be extremely daunting, and demoralizing and confusing. Pause, take time to think and plan at the start of your journey. As with any large project, the key to success is in the planning. And, your career return or transition is a huge personal project!
There are three key thoughts to planning a successful return:
1) Understanding your personal WHY
2) Having a clear vision as to your HOW
3) Being realistic
Why are you going back to work? Is it a personal preference, meaning you miss your professional life, feel unfulfilled or are lacking a sense of achievement - or maybe it is more urgent in that you need an income, your household status has changed (divorce, new child) or you have college tuition expenses looming or maybe, you find that you simply want to be part of something beyond home. Why are your transitioning? Have you given your life to the 60-hour work week and you want to downshift and take your skills to another industry or not-for-profit? Have your reached a point that your current situation is stale, unfulfilling or the culture/situation is no longer working for you?
Why is the Why so important? It points you in the right direction for your search. Let's say you you truly miss your professional life, or personal sense of career achievement and desire to advance your career to a top leadership position. Charting a path back under this scenario may mean extensive schooling/skills refresh or extensive work branding yourself as a thought leader in your industry. That is quite different from perhaps a routine part-time position allowing for personal time control and family balance.
The why melds into your how. Take a moment and visualize yourself working. Are you working 40, 60 or more hours a week? Are you working part time or on a contract basis? Do you want to be a remote worker or perhaps a hybrid office/remote situation? If you have school age children have you accounted for their schedules and extra curricular activities? Wardrobe? Car? Train? Again, having a clear vision on how you work integrates into your plan and can help you avoid frustration and finding yourself in the wrong job.
Be realistic. When you pause and understand your motivations and vision of yourself working, a realistic picture will emerge. If you need to go back to school, you may find that an interim job works best in the short run. If you were a former VP or senior manager and you haven't worked for numerous years, be comfortable with the fact that you likely will re-enter at a lower level and need to demonstrate your expertise and commitment to advancing your career. Most importantly, being realistic about your personal situation and how being back in the workforce will disrupt the your life and those around you. (Bonus tip - the importance of having your immediate family supporting your return cannot be understated.)
Three strong foundation blocks - Why, How and Being realistic. From these, you can start to build and implement your your action plan and with each step in the process, you will have a backstop to keep yourself focused. Opportunities may come across your path, but when tested against your foundations, it may be apparent they aren't the right fit. Stick to your vision and #ownyourgoals!
Be safe; Be well,