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The Return to Work

Guest Post by Kelley A. Joyce, MBA, CPC

The return to work is a massive milestone in your divorce journey. As a Career Development Coach, I’ve assisted hundreds of adults in their transition to the workforce.

Every professional has their own deep personal reasons for entry, such as a maternity return, being an empty nester, the sale of a business, the restoration of health, or the passing of a beloved family member. However, the most common scenario is the financial impact of a pending or recent divorce that creates an urgency to secure a new job.

Even though my divorce was many years ago, some vivid memories remain. Sadly, my most negative recollections are related to being cut off from my financial funds (that I had earned) while moving from Boston to New York City for a new job during my separation.

I intimately know the emotional and financial cost of divorce; therefore, it is my honor to coach divorcees during their various stages of growth associated with the return to work.

Regardless of where you are in your transition, you too can create a fulfilling and profitable work scenario. Which stage are you in during your Return to Work? 

AWAKENING: This stage is marked by a lack of awareness of the scope of the looming challenge. You may have little- to-no formal work experience. Your confidence in your ability to generate an income and manage the pay might be low. There can be in denial of a noticeable decrease in the financial status of the household. Perhaps, others are currently more concerned about your destiny than you are. The solution is to get grounded in your new reality. Quickly create a full-picture understanding of how every area of your life, including work, will need to change in the next 3, 6, and 12 months. The first step is to set an authentic baseline of your family needs so you can take care of yourself and others.

ALERT:  In the Alert phase, you are aware of your challenges with eyes wide open. There are deadlines on the horizon but no real tangible plan to meet them. Securing new work might be a legal condition of your separation agreement so that you can receive financial support. You’ve become knowledgeable of your cash position but not the reality of money-making yet. The solution is to charter a plan with strategies, tactics, budget, and rewards for re-launching your career. The first step is to reduce your feeling of vast overwhelm by including the people you most trust as your support team and briefing them on your intentions for accountability.

ANXIETY:  Once you have a plan, you’ll start to seek out new people (personal and professional contacts) and proven ways to help solve your problems. Some solid early steps include updating relevant people in your network and outlining a rough resume. On bad days, you might find yourself unconsciously offloading issues to others in a state of panic and/or fear. The solution is to learn to manage your inner voice so you can stop catastrophizing.  The first step is to commit to completing one clearly defined assignment every day. Keeping things simple will build up momentum for you while still not engulfing you at the same time.

ACTION:  This is the heavy lifting phase. You’re determining exactly what you want and how to get it. You’re putting in the elbow grease of conducting the actual job search instead of just thinking and talking about it. You’re starting to benefit from the feelings of freedom and empowerment that come with accomplishing tasks and being a positive role model. The solution is “to not give up before the miracle”. Keep going every day through the ups and the downs of the job search, and know when to seek support for the tougher, more dramatic days. You are now the Woman in the Arena. The first step is to practice non-attachment by loosening your grip on your desired outcomes, so that you can ultimately get what you want.

The journey to employment is profoundly littered with boulders in the road. The good news is these boulders are known entities and are the shared experience of job seekers. I commonly encounter the following roadblocks and disclose them to unite you with others:

  1. “I Have No Skills”: It’s often difficult for people to identify their skills when they’ve been in a non-traditional job or they haven’t been paid for their labor at home or in the community. The reality is we all have inherent and developed skills to be marketed to the workforce. Anything can be monetized but it must be identified first.

  2. “I’m Too Old / It’s Been A Long Time”: It’s true it may have been a long time. And certainly, age discrimination is an undeniable reality (did you know that after age 40 you are a protected class?) as is all other forms of exclusion. There is no such thing as the “perfect” candidate because we’re all human. The question becomes – are you going to get in your own way of your own success?

  3. “I Don’t Know What I Want”: This is a universal conundrum. The sad part is there’s a societal belief you’re supposed to automatically know what you want – a lucky few do – thankfully there are proven methods to guide you through the decision-making process.

  4. I Don’t Want to Start Over / Take a Step Back”: I’m yet to meet a client who deliberately wants to start over or take a step back. The reality is we have to start where we are; there’s very little of skipping steps because that’s a false and unsustainable future. Ask yourself – do I want a career I love or is my motivation something else?

  5. “I Have A Gap in My Resume / I Don’t Have a Resume”: Resumes can be written in several hours out of thin air. All it takes is your willingness to talk to someone like myself who will listen, translate, and capture your experience on paper. I see way too many talented people freeze in their tracks over the gap in their resume. The cure is to own your life decisions – such as staying at home to raise a family – and not making any apologies for it. The same for any other situations such as a layoff, illness, or sabbatical.

Are you at this point in your journey?  Feeling stuck?  Schedule a 45-minute FREE consultation with Kelley Joyce HERE

You can also visit Kelley's LinkedIn profile for free content. 

Kelley A. Joyce, MBA, CPC is a career development coach who is dedicated to helping people discover their career path and land their dream jobs. Kelley and her partner Josh live in New York City from which she has served hundreds of professionals across the U.S., U.K., and Australia since 2012 to radically change their relationship with work.


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