On A Career Break? - Make The Most Of Your Time At Home
On my first break from work, I spent most of my time sleeping and the only thing I had to show for it, was some glass paintings and a sheaf of intricate illustrations to be attempted on the glass, as well as a lot of books ticked off my reading list. On my second break, I ran out of things to catch up on and there was an overwhelming feeling of stagnation and a fear of being redundant. I was still committed to giving time to bring up my two children. I enjoyed their childhood and was a full-time hands-on mom. But the apprehensions about ever getting back to work were real and there was this unsettling feeling whenever I spoke to women who worked, especially those who managed home and work.
In retrospect, there is so much one can do to make the most of the hiatus. Apart from the ready advice to “enjoy yourself” and “it must be good to have more time to yourself,” there are many skills and experiences one garners but often without the true awareness of their value. Everything can be translated into an advantage. Here are some tips from someone who has been on an overextended break.
GROW SOME MORE
Being a homemaker teaches some valuable skills in people management and even more priceless lessons in time management, adaptability, and crisis management. Often we are doing it all and growing, but without being aware of these competencies as skills to build on. Parenting is a crash course in patience, flexi management, tolerance, and multi-tasking.Managing a household teaches budgeting, allocating resources effectively and financial planning. These are needed more than ever in the workplace. Aim for building transferable skills that you take back to work and look at it at a period of self-growth and learning. Look for some positivity and bring in more emotional awareness. Nothing like getting back fresher, more competent and self-assured rather than shaky and underconfident
I have lost count of the number of moms who ventured into gift packaging, organizing kids events and running small businesses around accessories, cooking or baking or starting out on their own. All through skills they picked up and honed during a career break. In fact, the term “mompreneur” is for just those women who rediscovered their creativity, inherent talents, and business acumen while parenting and used their work experience to launch themselves as independent entrepreneurs. This is a great time to explore your passions. There are events and community meetups you can sit through and participate in, to pick up tips from. Start connecting the dots by looking for and building a sync with a Mentor. Sometimes we let a break become an excuse to give up on chances that are waiting to be taken.
You can read some inspiring stories of women who did that here.
Take the initiative to stay updated. Be proactive and familiarise yourself with new technology and systems. Being on a break whether for starting or raising a family is no excuse to give up on your skills or life. Keep aside “Catch up time” daily, biweekly, weekly or every fortnight to stay updated on the world of work. Today there are more flex work opportunities across domains, freelancers can earn great packets and explore franchisee options too. I know of a friend who spent a part of her sabbatical going just through the jobs on recruitment and community sites, every other week, just to know where she would find a fit when she got back.
RESKILL & UPSKILL
There is nothing better than hitting the ground running. If you are taking a planned break, make sure you consider educating yourself as you go along. It could be something you are competent in or it could be building a new skill or working on an inherent talent and ability. Whatever it is, keep moving forward in terms of learning. There are innumerable resources – free and online – available easily today to learn a new programming language, new design software, to get new certification or even acquire a new outlook on life. From the traditional to the experimental, you can check it out here.
I can vouch for this one. It kept me sane, brought a whole new perspective on life and before I knew it changed me as a person, for the better I would like to think. I would recommend a stint as a volunteer for everyone and even suggest taking a sabbatical to learn to look at life through an entirely different lens. It brings in more appreciation, immense gratitude and somehow brings us down to the brass tacks - the little things that really matter. This overhaul of our value system actually impacts our choices better, career-wise and personally. And the feel-good factor is incomparable.
BUILD A NEW INTEREST
“There is more to life” - I got this mantra from a sassy friend and it works wonders whenever you are deadlocked or stuck in a rut, as you might be after being on break for a while. It just helps you visualize life as a box of goodies waiting to be explored. Build or set up a hobby or pastime outside your area of work /expertise. My friend above shared that she learns something new every year - piano, golf, the guitar, pottery. She may not excel but it helps her feel the expansiveness of life and choices at hand.
WORK ON YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK
The significant others in your life are more than just family, friends colleagues and domestic help. Become a part of a community that supports and inspires. Of course, it is a symbiotic relationship where you need to invest as much as you get back. Encourage and motivate another with whatever resources or expertise you have. Life and help have a way of coming back full circle. Work on your investments while you have the time. You will be able to better manage sticky situations and emergencies once you get back. And you always need a support system that is authentic, reliable and available - reach out on the Helpline for counselors who are always there to assist you.
At the end of the day, it is your attitude and spirit that shines through more than what, how long or where you worked. A break is the best time to build the person behind the work desk rather than letting only your work desk determine who can be - put that career break to the best possible use.
B*****So much inspiring article...thanks a lot
P*****Very apt article...I too am going through the "BREAK" phase in my career..but used this time to upskill myself and catch up with new interests and vocations...
D*****The pointers in your article are so relevant. These are simple things one can do while at home with most of the options so very much available and around us. I have personally been involved in several of these things mentioned by you and know how important they are for self development and staying abreast with whats happening outside in the world despite not being physically there in the professional world.