The career path of a Mum seems often to be a scenic trail rather than a clearly signposted highway. In my experience, this can be exhilarating, or pretty nerve wracking, depending on the day!
When I said goodbye to my colleagues to have my second baby, I envisaged I’d be back with them within the year trying to decide whether to pursue internal training roles or striving to make part-time consulting an effective option. Instead family circumstances somehow led me to more time at home with my children, a range of short-term roles, post-graduate study and eventually setting up of my own business.
I suspect that across the community, very few decisions are ever made in a complete vacuum, but I think the decisions that Mums make about how to structure their lives may be the most complex of all! We tend to ponder at length how to meet the practical, financial, emotional and social needs of our families and ourselves and what role work will play.
You receive a phone call from an old workmate telling you about a great new position that’s been created at her company. She’s even already told the Directors about you and they’re really interested to meet!
You’re probably pretty flattered and interested, but then the mental cogs start turning…
- Ok, I’ll have to work out the netball car pool again.
- I wonder if leaving early on a Thursday would work?
- I wasn’t really planning on changing anything till next year..
- But it sounds like a fantastic opportunity…
Whether you’re currently working or not, the decision making process is inevitably going to have a lot of variables in addition to standard job search thoughts about the company, the location, the duties and the salary.
What are you really looking for?
Decisions are easier to make if you have a good grasp on what’s most important to you. One area to consider when thinking about work, is the nature of your personal work orientation. Research in this area of positive psychology has identified the three distinct work orientations of Job, Career or Calling.
Are you looking for a Job?
You want to work mostly to fulfil practical needs. These needs might be financial but could also be social. You’re not overly passionate about work activities, and for the most part, your life outside of work is more important to you than your work. The location of a role and the conditions and flexibility offered may be your key criteria
Are you craving a Career?
You enjoy your work but are definitely thinking about the next step up the ladder or opportunity to take on more responsibilities. You are likely to be excited about a new stage in your career and willing to make some sacrifices – as long as the role fits well into your plans for the future.
Are you hearing a Calling?
Your work gives you a lot of meaning and fits well with your values. You feel a strong sense of pride in what you do and believe it makes the world a better place. You want to spend as much time as possible on your work. This is what you want to be doing for the rest of your working life.
The right work at the right time!
Now here’s the thing – there’s no right or wrong work orientation! But being able to identify what you want at a specific stage in your life can definitely help you make good decisions about opportunities that come up.
What description fits you best at the moment? How might your current work orientation provide useful signposts along your career path?
Kate Wilkie has a Masters in Applied Science (Coaching Psychology) from the University of Sydney, and her particular coaching interest is in working with women to increase well-being, boost resilience and guide positive action.
Evidence from the science of Positive Psychology shows that boosting overall well-being can help women to increase their resilience to stress and help to avoid depression and anxiety. This can be particularly important in the early years of motherhood and as their children become more independent.
Over the past twenty years Kate has worked and consulted across a range of industries and different sized businesses in the public, private and not for profit sectors. This varied experience has given Kate a strong understanding of, and clear perspective on, the challenges and opportunities that each individual and organisation faces.
FlexCareers offers a free 30-minute introductory meeting with our FlexCoaches, to help you establish if coaching is right for you. You can contact Kate through FlexCareers here, and you can find out more about their practice, Flourishing Mothers, here.