Your return to work is fast approaching and you have mixed emotions. Parenthood is life changing, so it’s not surprising if the way you view yourself in the workplace has changed too. You are looking forward to the intellectual stimulation that working brings and sinking your teeth into a new project, but you’re concerned about returning to work after being out of the workforce for a while.
If you are feeling nervous and lacking belief in your skills and abilities you are not alone. Many parents feel this way, but by rethinking your experience and talents you can approach your return to work with a confident mindset.
Try these simple techniques to get your confidence back on track when returning to work.
It’s like riding a bike
Remind yourself that you haven’t unlearned all your fabulous skills and knowledge that made you successful in your career. Yes, they may have temporarily been buried under the giant pile of laundry at home, but when you are back at work, have faith in yourself that your skills and knowledge will quickly resurface.
Have a go at writing a list of all your past work achievements and the skills needed to accomplish these. Pin it up somewhere visible so you can read it as a reminder that you have many valuable attributes.
The new and improved version of you
You may not realise it, but while becoming a parent you have developed many new life skills which are transferrable to the workplace. Think about it; at home you are an expert at juggling multiple tasks simultaneously, prioritisation, problem solving when facing new situations, showing resilience, demonstrating patience and empathy, etc. All of these skills are very valuable attributes in any workplace and will help you flourish when you are back at work.
Also, think about the journey and all the learnings you have acquired while you have been on leave—it’s been a phenomenal learning curve, hasn’t it? If your nervousness about returning to work is associated with thoughts of not being up to speed with the latest technologies/processes/whatever, just remind yourself of the steep learning curve you’ve recently been on as a parent and how you survived (and even thrived!)—so, surely you can conquer whatever comes your way at work too!
Visualise your success
Visualisation is a powerful tool to overcome nerves. Take a few minutes of quiet time for yourself, close your eyes and visualise yourself back at work and being successful. What does it look like? What are you doing? What are you saying? How are you feeling? Keep doing this regularly, and soon enough you will be able to see such a clear picture of you being successful that those nerves and negative thoughts will diminish.
Confident body language
Our body language can have a huge impact on how we feel. A positive body will help us feel more positive.
As a quick fix in moments of wavering confidence, move around and change the way you are standing or sitting. Did you know that when you change your physiology, you change your thinking?
Other body language tips for greater confidence include: standing (or sitting) tall, walking briskly, making eye contact when speaking with people, speaking clearly, holding your hand away from your mouth when speaking, and not fidgeting (or biting your nails!).
Get back in the game at your own pace
If you haven’t made use of any Keeping in Touch days during your leave, why don’t you give yourself a confidence boost before you officially return to work by becoming familiar with the environment again. Attend some team meetings (or virtually dial in) or visit the office to meet with your manager and colleagues so you start to get in the groove. Or, ease yourself back into work by returning one day a week initially, to help you get into the swing of things, and then increase your hours.
Just do it
Remember that confidence comes once you take action—people aren’t naturally born with confidence. If you are waiting for confidence to arrive before you take the first step, you will never start! Don’t wait. Get out there and confidence will follow.
Olivia Rowan, Founder of OLR Coaching. OLR Coaching loves helping people to live their best lives. OLR supports people to get clarity on their self-identity, to determine what is really important to them and set powerful goals that are aligned with their life vision, to make career changes; and assists with self-management strategies such as time management, reducing their stress and habit busting. They work with people through personal coaching and workshops. Connect with OLR on their website, Facebook and Instagram page.