Career transition lessons of a trailing spouse
Women’s lives are marked by many transitions and career transition is just one of them. We transition from girlhood to womanhood, high school to university, and university to career. Most of us transition from singleton to coupledom, and for many of us, there is the most emotional transition of all, that to motherhood. But, whatever our childbearing status, we all face transitions in our careers.
These transitions in our careers can be beyond our control, such as via retrenchment. Sometimes they are highly intentional, like the epiphany that life is short, and the work that fills our days does not truly satisfy us. For many women, family reasons are behind the changes in our professional lives. Like the new mother who juggles the pull of her children against all she has worked for in her career. Or, as in my case, the choice to leave part-time employment and become an expatriate.
The importance of work to your self-esteem
My husband was already working in Africa, returning back home for a few weeks every couple of months. I was working part-time in a job that was flexible enough for my role as an “almost” single mother. When the offer of a family move to Africa was floated, it seemed an ideal situation. It would allow us to live and have an adventure as a family. Due to visa restrictions, I would not be allowed to engage in paid employment and would become the ‘trailing spouse’. Amidst the heady excitement of the move, I gleefully handed in my resignation, focussed on the BIG picture of our imminent new lives. Little did I know how important work was to my self-esteem.
I had underestimated the validation I received from being able to work. Having that choice taken away from me was an emotional journey. I missed the sense of contribution work brings. I resented my inability to find locally paid work, despite the many volunteer opportunities life in the developing world offers. I felt outdated and underrated for the skills I had gained in my career
[Tweet “I was forced to sit with very uncomfortable feelings of being professionally left behind. “]
Transition can be a gift.
But as I slowly settled into my new life outside of the work environment, I met another breed of women. These women come from all over the world and across many professions, who have also found themselves in the same transition. They too have sat with feelings of discomfort and redundancy, but are emerging on the other side with new careers, new motivations and even greater self-esteem. They have started their own cooking schools, personal training and yoga classes, on-line employment, and many gain great satisfaction from volunteer work. Others, including myself, have taken this opportunity of transition to return to education.
[Tweet “I know I am not defined by my work, but I know it is important to me. “]
I know that life is short and we need to take opportunities when they arise. I know how lonely and demoralising it can feel when our choices seem to be taken away from us. But a transition period in our careers, for whatever reasons, particularly if there is another money earner in the family, can provide us with the time to get off the treadmill of work for a while. In this fast paced world, a transition period is a gift of time…to hug our kids, to realise what makes our heart sing, and perhaps even a chance to reinvent ourselves.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Career Management Basics for Strugglers and Jugglers
June 15th Learn how to identify your transferable skills
June 22nd Build a strong network
June 29th Raise your visibility
If you would like to join the live recording of these sessions please contact [email protected] for the Zoom Link
Dates for the Diary
June 10th - Corporate Workshop: Build your Personal Board of Directors
We have Remote Learning Programs available
Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.
Download and listen free podcasts
Research shows a link between emotional intelligence and career success. It’s not a natural talent as people quite often believe but it can be improved with practice so here are 5 signs of a high EQ
Delphine Lescole launched a short survey to collect corporate businesses’ impressions, and explore more specifically the subject of Diversity and Inclusion corporate partnerships in cultural organisations. She is targeting specifically working members of companies using corporate sponsorship as a promotional tool.
The next piece of professional awkwardness could very well be around one of the timeless social greetings – the future of the handshake.