It is an all too common story. A working mother returns to work after their first or second child only to find that their role has changed or narrowed. Job satisfaction starts to plummet. Talent and skills start going to waste. Boredom and dissatisfaction kicks in.
This was my return to work story. But is also the return to work story of so many other mothers that I speak with in our community. Too many talents going to waste. Too much potential being unrealised.
If this is how you feel about your work, then you do yourself and injustice by staying in that situation for too long. I know I am a much more happy and balanced mother when I feel good about the work that I am doing. But with a small family to manage, making a big change to your work can feel overwhelming, if not impossible.
When needing to make a change in your career, author and creator of Google’s Career Program Jenny Blake encourages you to try some small experiments first. Jenny advises her clients to do this because it reduces the risks associated with taking a new path, and reduces the chance of failure. But I also like this approach because it can reduce the overwhelm that we feel about trying new things and trying to figure out our next steps. As working mothers, the more we can do to reduce our overwhelm, the better!
Without having read Jenny Blake’s wonderful book Pivot, I had already tried this myself. My experiment was to start writing my own blog about sustainable fashion. In the process I illuminated my passion for writing, and reconnected with my desire to write for magazines (a goal which have now achieved). I developed clarity around my expertise as a specialist in social change, and a grew my leadership skills to the point where I was able to take big leaps into self-employment and social entrepreneurship. A seemingly small personal project (my experiment) was a huge catalyst in my leadership journey.
Now your leadership experiments will be as unique as you are. You might undertake them at work, with a professional network, in your community, or as a personal project. You could start a book group, join an activist group, become a board member at school, ask for new responsibilities at work, or start a creative course.
If you are stagnating at work, you need to find a way to explore your potential again. But change won’t happen by doing the same thing you are doing now. You need to try something new, no matter how small. You never know where your experiment might lead you.
How will you experiment on your leadership journey? Leave your thoughts in the comments at the end of this article to join the conversation.
Explore this topic further:
- For comprehensive guide to making your career change, Jenny Blake’s Pivot is an excellent resource
- If you want to map out all of your interests, and explore how these might fit together as your career evolves, Body of Work: Finding the thread that ties your story together by Pamela Slim is a useful guide
- If you are feeling stuck and would benefit from structured support and mentoring to help you find your way back to meaningful work, our Leadership Fundamental Coaching Program is now enrolling for the September-November 2017 program. By the end of the program you will have identified your strengths, skills and interests and leave with a plan for the leadership experiments you can pursue to make the next leap in your leadership journey