Article by: Savitha Sampath, Digital Marketing Consultant.
A woman quits her job when she is pregnant, when she has to nurture her family, when she has to take care of the elderly or when her spouse travels. If not for all, a woman may quit her job owing to any one of these reasons in some point of her life. In most of the cases, she is forced to take a career break.
Career break is an inevitable factor in most women’s lives. Since it is unavoidable, it becomes necessary to utilize this break meaningfully. A break utilized in an effective way is much better than an aimless indefinite break. If you are a woman taking a career break, then, it is necessary to keep yourself equipped to combat many evils like low self-esteem, self-pity and peer pressure that would pull you down. Take a smart career break.
- Analyze the reason for taking a career break
Think through it, this helps you to not regret the decision later. Talk to your family members who are the best mentors for you. If you take your career seriously, then this change would most likely affect you emotionally. Be sure that you are properly equipped to accept the role change.
A Mentor may be one of your friends, colleagues or your spouse. There are a lot of career mentors for women, who could help you with this. This will give you a head’s up on things that you never considered. Talk to your spouse and family about the importance of your job and career.
- What is your ambition? Do you have one?
Most women do not have an ambition in life. You may get apprehensive about me for saying this. But, this is the reality, in India, women lack ambition. They dance to the whims and fancies of their families. It happens without their knowledge. In many instances, women choose to settle down to the career that suits her family.
A study conducted at the Harvard Business School proved this prevails even in advanced societies where there is importance of gender parity. According to this study, women have more life goals than power goals as compared to men. They associate more negative outcomes with high-power positions, perceive power as less desirable though equally attainable, and are less likely to take advantage of opportunities for professional advancement.
If women and men at the same positions, are given the same work, women will have more things to do outside of the work for themselves or for their families than men.
Does it mean that women should not have any life goals?
These life goals could be achieved by equal participation of work by both men and women. It is important to share the household work with our partner or find some support system rather sacrificing the career at all.
You should have personal as well as professional goals and aim to achieve it with whatever limitations you have. This break could be one such limitation. Try to work with it rather letting all the societal barricades stop you from achieving your dream. Do not compromise on your ambition for anything
- Keep your mind open and up-skill
You do not need a nine-to-five job and a job that gives holidays when your kids have one! Keep your mind open, there are plenty of things that women can do. While on break, check for websites that offer work-from-home jobs, freelancing jobs or even a volunteering jobs. Take up some online courses. There are many universities that offer courses online.
There are so many websites that offer many advanced courses online. Start exploring these websites.
Also, Google for topics and find blogs written by experts in your domain. It would be a good idea to subscribe for their blogs too. This would help you get hooked up to something that you like even when you are at the break. You will also be informed about the latest trends in your area of interest and would equip you to get the right job.
- Have a passion and time for yourself
Be in touch with people who do not judge you, especially your friends. Have “me-time” every day. This relieves you of your stress and helps you to concentrate on your other tasks better. Spending time on yourself has a lot of psychological benefits. All the more, it is important to have a passion in life. If you are passionate about something for e.g. painting, baking or reading books or writing, then make sure you spend at least half an hour every day on that. This would give you some sort of happiness and satisfaction that nothing else can.
- Do not be guilty
Women who take a career break often tend to feel guilty. According to a study conducted by the London School of Business, close to 70% of women feel anxious about taking a career break. Taking a career break is not a crime. It is a phase that every woman undergoes. It is better to enjoy the break than brooding over it. Also, by not being guilty you can concentrate on the task well, for which you have taken a break.
If you are confident and have a better attitude and focus nothing can stop you. The break would be just another speed breaker!
- Always keep a tab on opportunities
Keep exploring the latest trends and participate in women’s forums or websites, where people share a lot about career breaks. You can know what women like you do. This would not only be inspirational but also will put you in peace by the fact that you are not alone in your career break. Talk to many like-minded people, especially women, who work out of limitations. Read about inspirational stories of Indian women. This would motivate you.
There are many websites that are predominantly for women returnees in India. Read the job postings every day to know about what type of skills companies look for. This would also help you in choosing a path that you are ignorant about or the one which is yet to be tapped.
- A well-planned sabbatical
If you are planning for nothing beyond a sabbatical, then it is essential to check for the sabbatical policy and most importantly to talk to your boss about it. Many corporates have sabbatical policies for their women employees. There are many companies that even offer flexibility to women who return after sabbatical.
The policies may vary in accordance with your level. Going through these policies way ahead will help you in knowing the intricacies of it. You will be more prepared to discuss it with your boss in detail. Inform your manager about the sabbatical, the duration, and its nature much ahead. This would help your manager to know of the potential loss that he is going to incur in your absence and gives him/her time to get prepared for it.
Talk to your spouse and your extended family who are willing to support you once you get back to work. This would equip you and your family to handle the eventualities in a better way.
Be smart with your career break. Planning ahead would prepare you for any shortcomings, most importantly would help you not to have regrets later in life. It is better to take a conscious decision than taking life as it demands.
What is your take on a smart career break? How did you manage your career break?