Finding Your Way Back (To Work)

mm Bill Pace

There are a host of reasons why a perfectly reasonable and sane adult will voluntarily drop out of the workforce:

  • Being a full-time parent
  • Taking care of ill, aged or infirmed relatives or friends
  • Getting sick
  • Pursuing a hobby or avocation
  • Returning to school
  • Preparing for professional testing or credential
  • Travelling
  • Winning the lottery
  • Or maybe just taking a much needed break…

The reasons for wanting to return to work after an extended absence are generally pretty straight-forward:

  • Your kids got old enough not to need a stay-at-home parent (sorry, it happens)
  • Your relative or friend got better (or worse…)
  • You got well (yay!)
  • You super-mastered that hobby
  • You got your degree or certification (double yay!)
  • You passed the test (also double yay!)
  • You’ve seen as much of the world as you want (for now)
  • You need the money (:-(
  • Or maybe you just got bored (it happens)

Like getting lost in the wilderness, finding your way back to work can be daunting. Moreover, unlike getting lost in the woods, you might want your journey to take you to an entirely new destination, not just back to where you were before. So how do you chart the path to your next career? What are some of your options?

  • Sit in a dark room and think REALLY HARD about what you want to do next.
  • Buy a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute (now in its 45th edition), put it under your pillow and hope some of it seeps into your brain.
  • Buy a copy of What Color is your Parachute and actually complete all the exercises (this can be helpful, but most people don’t actually do it).
  • Go to a job board and troll the listings for your dream job. It’s unlikely you’ll find it and even if you do, it’s unlikely you’ll land it (sorry).
  • Hire a career or life coach to help you figure things out. It’s typically expensive and might be helpful (but no guarantees).
  • Take the time to really reflect on what you want, establish clear priorities and goals, and talk to as many relevant and qualified people as you can about your career areas of interest. (Surprise, this is what ClearlyNext can help you do!)

No treasure map exists that can just show you where to go. You need to create a personalized version for yourself. No shortcuts. No “Beam me up, Scotty”. It takes a committed effort on your part. But after all, since it’s your career, it’ll be worth it.

Bill Pace is Managing Director of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >