Stop Sacrificing Your Career Dreams for Family

Don't be a martyr to the family for the sake of your career dreams

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Don’t you deserve a job you love?

Someone told me recently about all the things they’ve given up for their kids. Their youth, sleep, pre-baby body, a clean house, cocktails by the swim up bar on holidays. And their dreams of a new career. Babies had come along before they had the chance to make a leap to their dream role, and now it was, in their words, impossible. But they struggled on in a job they hated, with inconvenient hours, dragging kids to childcare in the dark and cold, coming home to rushed dinners and bedtime. They just stayed on the path they started with at Uni, even though it was no longer serving their needs professionally. They were marginalised from the team by being part-time, resented for taking constant school holidays off, and had lost their pre-maternity leave status as the go to person for leading and motivating the team.

When I probed further, why couldn’t they still have the chance to change careers, their response didn’t surprise me. I don’t have time. It’s all too hard. It would be selfish to take all the time needed to go back to study and take time away from the kids and house. I’ll let my partner change jobs and get settled there first, and then maybe when the kids are older… All that is basically saying, I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve a career I love. I don’t deserve to have a job that fulfills me and gives me the pleasure I used to get from my work when I was young. Because now I have kids.

It seems a bit silly when you think about it like that, doesn’t it? Do you deserve a career change? Of course, you do. Everyone deserves to do a fulfilling job they love. But really, the fact is that many women struggle on in careers that no longer serve them. Or they sacrifice their status and years of career building for their families for lower level jobs that are more family friendly. And then, with children, and life and all that entails, they find themselves stuck.

Who has time for a career change?

When you’ve barely had time for a proper shower in weeks, need to do the shopping, get dinner on and kids to bed, when do you make time for your career change?

Changing careers is not an easy process. It takes a lot of self-reflection. It takes a lot of soul-searching and researching and reflection, not to mention doing the study or job hunting to make the change, which all adds up to time. Time that mothers will rarely give to themselves.

It won’t happen overnight.

Starting on the pathway to making a career change doesn’t happen with you suddenly waking up one day and thinking “I need a new career.” It’s usually a gradual process, where your mindset changes from – I need to go back to my old job after maternity leave – to – What else is out there for me?

Sometimes, it takes weeks, or years, for the blur of sleepless nights and babyhood to pass, before you’re even in the right frame of mind to approach a new career.

Once you decide to start – inspiration will be all around you

But, the tickle of an idea might be there. Maybe you read something about a job you’d love to try one day. Maybe one of your kids asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. And bit by bit, your dreams start to reform. After talking to my friend, and her giving me all the reasons why it was all too hard, she started to ponder on the “what if’s.” And that’s the thing that will start to open doors and possibilities, and maybe it’s not as hard as you imagine.

Change your mindset to follow your dreams

The first step to making a career change is to believe you are worth it. That self-belief and the certainty that you are making changes that will positively impact on your entire family is what will drive you through any dark days ahead.

It is not selfish to want a good job. It’s not selfish to even want to change from a perfectly good job to another in a different field.

There are many pathways to finding your dream career, and just like in life – maybe the dream you start with will change once you actually start researching and looking at your options. A career coach or careers counsellor can help you work out how to start the process and will be able to give you many new ideas and approaches you might not have thought of as well.

Have you let your dream career be put aside for your family? Spring is the perfect time to start putting plans in place (before you get distracted by end of year activities) so you’re ready to take action in the new year to make your career dreams reality. Maybe start with a short course, or try a new hobby, and see where it leads you.

Is there something you can do to take action this week on making your career dreams happen?  Share it below!

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