Why We Should Normalize Taking a Professional Development Pause

professional development pause
Source: Alaina Kaz

The day you start your first job, you are automatically programmed to think of your next steps beyond your current role. In fact, you may even have been asked during your interview, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

This question always makes me cringe because I can barely figure out what I want to wear for an interview let alone plan my career trajectory for the next few years. The concept of “wanting more” and “striving for excellence” is something deeply ingrained in our American psyche, rooted in capitalism, and perhaps even a contributing factor to the birth of our nation. 

Before becoming a mom, you might have been that “go-getter” type at work who stayed late at the office regularly and always welcomed “other duties as assigned” to your plate. Maybe you still are that person. But if you felt something inside of you shift with motherhood, read on.

Maybe upward mobility or a promotion is no longer what drives you. Perhaps you are more motivated to advocate for your needs as a working mother. Or maybe you’re like me, someone who has decided the career you once invested so much of yourself into is no longer who you are, so you decide to reinvent yourself after motherhood. Some mothers even decide to leave the workforce altogether to embark on the important role of stay-at-home mom

All of these choices mothers make are valid. Rather than enforce the concept that women—and subsequently mothers—have to “lean in” to grow in their careers, what many of us need is to embrace the revolutionary act of taking a professional development pause to put our needs first. Below are some empowering affirmations in support of normalizing working mothers resting, recalibrating, and reimagining their career journeys on their timeline and on their terms. These affirmations won’t relate to every working mama, but the hope is that those reading can feel empowered and inspired by what connects with them.

 

It’s OK to want less responsibilities; I want to feel less pressure and stress at work.

I read something recently that said at work, you get rewarded for great performance and stellar productivity by getting even more work. As moms, we may not welcome “more work” anymore. We have given birth and dealt with all sorts of postpartum issues and toddler tantrums; maybe what we actually want are less “extra” responsibilities at work—especially those that bleed beyond work hours. Because our home responsibilities are endless and demanding at all hours of the day and night, wanting less work stress is valid. Although we should note, employers taking responsibilities away in the name of “lessening the load” without any discussion may be a signal of mom bias in the workplace.

 

 

I want to change careers. I no longer feel the need to invest in my current profession.

We are not the same women we were when we didn’t have children. Becoming a mother changes all of us. As a result, it is not preposterous to want to also shift career aspirations and welcome a career change. This may not be easy when you have invested countless hours climbing this particular career ladder. Nevertheless, it’s OK to take a leap of faith because you want something different. You are version 2.0 of yourself. We don’t have to justify this career shift—we are worthy of this transition to invest in another passion and goal.

 

I want a job that can give me stability and allow me to put my family first.

Choosing a “safe” career that provides stability in terms of pay and benefits for yourself and your family can sometimes matter more than a six-figure paycheck. Your love for your family is unconditional. It’s understandable that you may just want to provide your family with enough money for the essentials: pay your mortgage and have health insurance, with a little extra for doing things like eating out and taking family vacations.

The job that allows for this lifestyle may not come with the fancy title or the super annual bonus, but it gives you certain benefits and flexibility, which, in many ways, are priceless. This career choice allows you to put your family first.

 

professional development pause

Source: @helloitsloh

 

I don’t want to sacrifice my evenings, weekends, and vacations. I want to prioritize my rest.

When you grow professionally, many times, this upward mobility comes at the sacrifice of your free time. Additionally, when you are in a leadership position, your stress levels may grow exponentially because you are responsible for managing a lot of employees that may come with a lot of high-pressure projects with ongoing tight deadlines. This may result in you working evenings and weekends and reducing your time off. As moms, we are tired. Adding that type of work responsibility on top of managing our children’s lives can be overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to choose your mental health and prioritize your own rest. Your personal time is precious.

 

I can take a professional development pause and decide to return when I am ready.

We’ve all heard that comparison is the thief of joy. Our career journeys are all different, and when we’re becoming a mom, we may feel the need to reevaluate who we are and what we want. I acknowledge there’s a privilege in the ability to take a pause, but there is power in “marinating” on who we are and who we want to be. It’s a healthy choice and, in many ways, a bold decision to reclaim our time to invest in our personal development. Disregard the raises and promotions happening around you—you do what is best for you, mama.

 


I hope mamas reading this know we matter more than the demands of any job. At the end of our day, it’s not having submitted that perfect proposal that matters most. Quite the contrary, it’s how we feel about ourselves and our commitment to our family that means more.

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