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Getting Yourself Back Up After A Career Break

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Embarking on a career break can be both a daunting and liberating time, whether chosen voluntarily or brought on by unforeseen circumstances. It can sometimes feel like you're venturing into uncharted territory, uncertain of the future. However, this can also be a golden opportunity for self-improvement and growth. The secret to success lies in navigating this period with a resilient spirit, a level-headed approach, and a meticulously detailed plan. In this blog, we'll explore the crucial components that contribute to successful reintegration into the workforce after a career break and discuss the inevitable trade-offs and how to handle them effectively.

Your Career Break - A Springboard for Reinvention and Growth

Rather than viewing your career break as a daunting abyss, see it as a time of personal evolution. This could be the perfect opportunity to pick up new skills, rekindle dormant passions, or focus on familial responsibilities. Countless people have found that a career break leaves them feeling re-energised and brimming with innovative ideas to tackle new challenges.

Here's how different individuals have leveraged their career breaks to drive personal and professional growth:

1. Acquiring New Skills and Knowledge: Some people use their career break to gain new skills or deepen their knowledge in certain areas. This could be through formal education, online courses, or self-study.

2. Launching a Side Business or Startup: Others have used their free time during a career break to start their own business or pursue a passion project. This entrepreneurial experience adds to their resume and opens new career pathways.

3. Exploring Different Careers: A career break can provide the time and space to explore different careers or industries. This could involve internships, job shadowing, or even informal conversations with professionals in various fields.

4. Personal Development: Many use a career break for personal development outside the professional realm. This could involve wellness retreats, meditation or yoga classes, or even travel experiences that broaden one's worldview and foster personal growth.

5. Volunteering and Social Work: Some people spend their career break engaged in volunteering or social work. This contributes positively to society, helps develop a range of soft skills, and broadens one's perspective.

6. Caring for Loved Ones: Whether for young children, ageing parents, or other family members, a career break can allow individuals to dedicate time and attention to caregiving. This period can provide invaluable personal growth and increased empathy and understanding.

7. Developing New Interests or Hobbies: Career breaks can allow for exploring new interests or hobbies. Whether learning a new language, taking up a sport, or exploring artistic pursuits, these new hobbies can lead to personal enrichment and even new career opportunities.

8. Health and Fitness Goals: With the extra time, some individuals focus on their health and fitness goals during a career break. From training for a marathon to adopting healthier eating habits, these lifestyle changes contribute to overall personal growth.

9. Writing a Book or Blog: Some individuals have taken advantage of the downtime to pen down their thoughts, experiences, or expertise. This creative pursuit serves as a form of self-expression and can enhance one's professional profile.

Every person's career break experience is unique, and how one spends this time can lead to different paths of reinvention and growth. The key is to view the career break as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. With the right mindset and a proactive approach, a career break can be a springboard for reinvention and growth.

Despite the potential benefits, career breaks can also bring on stress, disrupt routines, generate financial uncertainties, and create a sense of professional detachment. Hence, having a comprehensive plan is critical to mitigate these challenges and facilitate a smooth transition into the workforce.

Woman looking at a rope - Do I have enough strength - Donnan Coaching Services
Woman looking at a rope - Do I have enough strength? - Donnan Coaching Services

The Power of Resilience: Bounce Back Better

In the professional world, resilience is an invaluable trait that can set you apart and enable you to overcome adversity. This characteristic empowers you to tackle setbacks head-on, recover quickly, and continue striving towards your goals. Cultivating resilience is paramount for individuals gearing up to reintegrate into the workforce after a career break.

Harnessing your experiences during the career break can help identify effective strategies and create a blueprint to bolster resilience and navigate future professional challenges. Reflecting on times when you've faced considerable challenges, persevered, and emerged stronger is essential to this process. These instances can serve as powerful reminders of your resilience in adversity.

Here are some strategies to strengthen your resilience during your career break:

1. Embrace the Learning Curve: View this break as a golden opportunity to learn or refine new skills. Such continuous learning will enhance your professional repertoire and build your confidence and resilience, equipping you for your reentry into the workforce.

2. Develop a Growth Mindset: Approach your break not as a setback but as a platform for growth and self-improvement. Embracing this perspective fosters resilience, spurs you on to seize opportunities and surmount challenges.

3. Focus on Self-Care: Prioritising your physical and mental health is a powerful resilience-booster. Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and practising mindfulness, such as meditation, can all contribute to a positive mindset, effective stress management, and a faster bounce-back from adversity.

4. Build a Strong Support Network: Foster strong relationships with friends, family, mentors, and professional contacts. This supportive network can offer guidance, encouragement, and diverse perspectives, further bolstering your resilience during challenging times.

5. Set Clear Goals and Develop a Plan: Define clear, achievable goals for your career break and draft a plan to realise these goals. This initiative gives you a sense of direction, maintains motivation, and strengthens resilience as you work towards your objectives, readying you for a triumphant return to work.

Each of these strategies is a pivotal step in your journey towards enhanced resilience and a seamless transition into professional life post-break. By integrating these strategies into your routine, you're arming yourself with a robust mental toolkit to confront and overcome any professional challenges that may come your way. Remember, adapting and flourishing in the face of challenges is a critical skill for any career, and resilience is the sturdy ship that can navigate you through the choppiest of seas.

A man in an office.  He is worried about his career.  Donnan Coaching Services
A man in an office. he is worried about his career. Donnan Coaching Services

Steering Your Nerves: Boost Your Confidence

Returning to the professional world after a hiatus can be daunting. The challenge of keeping up-to-date with industry trends and maintaining a competitive edge in the job market may seem overwhelming. But rather than being consumed by anxieties, it's crucial to draw strength from your past achievements and focus on your unique value proposition. Your past successes testify to your capabilities, boosting your confidence as you prepare to make your professional comeback.

During your previous career development, you honed relevant and transferable technical and soft skills, like leadership, communication, and problem-solving. Recognizing the value of these skills and the edge they give you in your field can fuel your confidence as you navigate your career transition.

Your previous industry tenure has given you invaluable insights into its operations, major players, market trends, and potential challenges. This knowledge is an asset, empowering you to understand the job market better and make informed decisions upon reentering the workforce.

Over time, you've built a substantial professional network comprising colleagues, mentors, and contacts from diverse fields. This network is an invaluable resource when you're aiming to rejoin the workforce, providing job leads, advice, and insights into current industry norms.

Your past experiences have also fostered a deep understanding of your work style, strengths, and areas requiring improvement. This level of self-awareness is a potent tool, mitigating anxieties as you're well aware of the work environments and strategies that bring out your best.

Furthermore, your previous roles equipped you with experience in navigating various workplace dynamics. These experiences, whether teamwork, conflict management, or understanding organizational culture, can bolster your confidence. Knowing that you can handle similar situations upon returning to work can be reassuring.

Remembering past obstacles and challenges you've surmounted serves as a vivid reminder of your resilience and adaptability. These memories can help assuage fears about potential challenges upon your return to work.

Regular self-affirmation practice, focusing on your abilities, strengths, and accomplishments, can cultivate a positive mindset and reinforce your belief in your professional prowess.

If you find your confidence wavering, consider seeking the support of a career coach or mentor. Their personalized guidance, constructive feedback, and strategic advice can help you navigate your return to the workplace.

By revisiting these strategies and experiences from your previous career journey and taking proactive steps, you can alleviate your concerns, augment your skills and knowledge, and prime yourself for a successful career transition.

Woman writing notes. Career planning.  Donnan Coaching Services
Woman writing notes. Career planning. Donnan Coaching Services

Charting Your Path: The Comprehensive Plan

A robust plan is your trusty map in the grand adventure of re-entering the workforce. This plan outlines your ambitious goals and highlights the skills you need to acquire to conquer those peaks. It's your trusty guide, complete with a realistic timeline for your return, strategies for skill refinement, tactics to gain valuable experience, and even a plan-B if the journey takes an unexpected turn.

Embarking on this voyage, consider these five potential career goals or milestones, remembering that these are simply guiding stars that should be adjusted to match your unique career compass:

Embrace a New Skill or Technology: In the fast-paced world of tech, the ability to learn and master new skills is your best weapon. Your goal could be as ambitious as mastering a new programming language or as analytical as learning advanced data analysis techniques.

Earn a Valuable Certification: Like badges of honour, industry-specific certifications significantly increase your reputation and prospects. You could aim for the PMP for project managers, the CPA for accountants, or even the AWS Certified Solutions Architect for IT pros.

Aim for Leadership Experience: If you've always been a solo adventurer, consider a goal of leading a team. Proving your ability to manage resources and inspire others is an accomplishment that's visible from any peak.

Expand Your Professional Network: A successful career adventurer knows the value of a strong network. Set a goal to expand your connections by attending industry events, joining LinkedIn groups, or participating in webinars.

Share Your Knowledge with the World: You solidify your position as a thought leader by publishing industry-related content. Writing LinkedIn posts, publishing research papers, or speaking at events boosts your visibility and opens doors to opportunities hidden in the most unexpected places.

Remember, these goals should always be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This strategy lights your path, making progress easily trackable and keeping your journey on course.

A comprehensive plan is the North Star guiding your successful return to the workforce after a career break. It provides a structure, goals to reach, and benchmarks to assess your progress. It encapsulates your skills, interests, and ambitions, ensuring that your journey is personal and purposeful. This plan shines a light on your path, helping you navigate potential obstacles and focus on your objectives. Whether learning a new skill, expanding your network, or stepping into leadership roles, a comprehensive plan maps the road to success. Remember, it's not just about the destination; it's about the journey. So as you embark on this exciting expedition of rediscovery and growth, let your comprehensive plan be your compass, steering you towards the fulfilling career you've always envisioned.

Young woman waiting for a job interview.  Donnan Coaching Services
Young woman waiting for a job interview. Donnan Coaching Services

The Balancing Act: Understanding Trade-offs

The journey to balance various aspects of life is a complex process that requires thoughtfulness, intentionality, and strategic planning. Navigating family commitments, financial pressures, and career aspirations inevitably involves trade-offs, and each decision will have its own set of consequences. The key lies in a profound understanding of your values and priorities, serving as the compass to guide your choices towards alignment with your envisioned life.

One crucial facet of this balancing act is the power of intentional decision-making. Rather than hastily choosing the seemingly easy or attractive option, it calls for a conscious effort to comprehend the potential impact of each choice on different aspects of your life. For instance, you might decide to prioritise career growth over family time, knowing it contributes to a long-term goal of providing financial stability for your loved ones. Conversely, turning down a promotion to uphold a work-life balance becomes a deliberate choice when it aligns with your value of prioritising health and relationships.

Each decision you make should be geared towards your long-term goals and the person you aspire to become. An intentional approach to decision-making creates a path that is consistent with your values and long-term objectives, enriching your journey towards achieving a fulfilling work-life balance.

As you tread this path, it's vital to remember that each decision's consequences need to be carefully weighed. Opting for a lower-paying job that offers more flexibility might sacrifice short-term financial stability, whereas a higher-paying job with longer hours could offer financial advantages but at the cost of time spent with loved ones. By carefully considering the pros and cons of each option and how they align with your values and priorities, you can make informed decisions that lead to a more satisfying and rewarding life.

A young Asian woman with a camera.  Donnan Coaching Services
A young Asian woman with a camera. Donnan Coaching Services

Assessing the Impact: The Bigger Picture

Returning to work after a break requires a holistic approach that takes care of your personal and physical well-being. This ensures decisions align with your values for greater career fulfilment. Furthermore, engaging in hobbies or activities, you love can provide relaxation and joy and be a creative outlet that could translate into workplace productivity and innovation. For example, if you enjoy painting or writing, these activities can enhance your creativity and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in the workplace.

As you prepare to go back to work, it's worth considering how you can incorporate these practices into your daily routine. More and more employers realise the importance of employee well-being and work-life balance. You might come across opportunities to join a workplace fitness club, attend mindfulness workshops, or take part in brainstorming sessions to spark your creativity.

Training and development goals should also factor in this holistic approach. For example, if you're interested in mental health during your break, you could explore courses or training in workplace well-being or mental health first aid. Such skills will not only be beneficial for your personal growth but could also be a unique selling point when applying for jobs.

Returning to work after a break involves more than merely focusing on professional goals and skills. It is a complex process that necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing personal and physical well-being care. By doing so, you'll be better prepared to make a smooth transition back into the workforce. This approach ensures that your decisions align with your values, resulting in greater career satisfaction and fulfilment.

In Conclusion

Rejuvenating your professional life after a career break requires resilience, confidence, and a comprehensive plan. This process involves striking a balance among various life aspects and considering the broader implications of your decisions. Remember, the aim is not merely to return to work but to return stronger, more knowledgeable, and with a more balanced perspective. With the right mindset, a robust support system, and a well-thought-out strategy, achieving this aim isn't just a possibility; it's a thrilling journey waiting to begin.


Regards, Paula

Careers and Personal Growth Coach

⭐If you're beginning your journey or seeking a new path, I can help you plan your next steps. ⭐If you need to chat about your career dilemma?

📌 Contact me at

Two women discussing options.  Donnan Coaching Services.
Two women discussing options. Donnan Coaching Services.


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