Before having children, I was a high-performing, highly motivated, ambitious and driven woman – in fact, I still am. Following the birth of my first son, I returned to my job to discover a deep-seated personal conflict between my career ambitions and my newly developed values and priorities that centred on my family. It was a surprise to both my husband and me.
I rationalised a sideways move in my corporate job to eliminate travel, felt grateful for the opportunity to achieve a semblance of work-life balance and coped with the situation. But a life-threatening stroke following the birth of my second son made it clear that my coping strategies and rationalisation hadn’t worked as well as I’d thought.
I took more time off than I’d planned, as my maternity leave extended into sick leave. The health issues caused significant fear and anxiety; at the same time, my already-vanishing professional identity felt unrecoverable, causing more stress and worry.
Meanwhile, I was reading the multitude of articles that said city mums could have it all – wait, no, we can’t have it all – actually, some of us can, but most of us can’t – but wait… what is it we actually want anyway? It was all too much and one day I found myself literally hiding away from it all under the duvet and realised I didn’t even recognise myself anymore.
I needed to work. I wanted to work. So much of my identity had been tied to my career: I was respected, my input was valued, client work was incredibly engaging and I loved what I did. But I also wanted to do something that would support the family life I’d created for myself.
At a Mum & Career workshop in January, speaker Liz Lugt sparked a flame and inspired me to follow my passion. I then discovered the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), the world’s leading accredited coach training programme*. iPEC not only trains professional coaches but also gives them everything they need to set up their own successful coaching business.
After a discussion with an iPEC graduate, I started wondering, “What if there really was a solution that allowed me to do work I love, with people I care about, make a meaningful impact, and do it all in a way that enabled me to participate fully in my life as a mother, wife and successful business woman?”
I was hungry for that solution and it was an enticing opportunity. The 7-month training delivered through a combination of 3 live weekend modules and home study provided the flexibility I needed to support my return to work as I supported my family. The training built on my strengths, restored and raised my self-confidence, gave me clarity of purpose and helped me build a practical, solid, business foundation.
I never thought of myself as entrepreneurial, but now seven months after Duvet Day, I have my own coaching business, and most importantly, I know who I am, what I want and I have complete confidence that I know how to get there. I feel more in control of my thoughts and emotions; and my identity and values are now consistent with my profession. I’m happier at home and I feel more present and competent with the children.
Times like new motherhood and returning to work present us with an incredible opportunity to literally re-write the rules of our life in a way that supports who we want to be and follow our passions. Embrace the opportunity! Take some time to ask yourself – and answer – some powerful questions:
- What do I really want out of life?
- What am I truly passionate about?
- Who am I, really?
- Where am I limiting myself, or settling? And what are others missing as a result?
- What rules am I following? How are they limiting me? How are they benefiting me?
- What could happen if I brought my passions to life?
Once you set your intentions on what you really want in your life, opportunities come flooding in the door.
Author: Patricia Erhardt Lewis from Well Ahead Coaching.
Patricia now draws upon all the experiences she has described by working with new mothers who are grappling with issues around returning to work. Her passion is partnering with career-oriented mothers to re-write the rules of their lives and help them choose whether to:
- re-engage with their careers, really focus on work (while there) and make a step-change in influence, seniority or expertise;
- realign career choices with a newly acknowledged change in values and priorities; or
- reinvent themselves by harnessing the power of their own creativity to strike out in a new direction.
She would love to hear how your return to work is going. If all this strikes a chord and you’re looking for support, contact her and discover who you really want to be and how to make it happen… firstname.lastname@example.org, or +44(0)7753627504.