For Women & Co. by Liz Bronson, Principal, Liz Bronson Consulting
I am on sabbatical. A clean out my closets, volunteer at school, re-evaluate my career sabbatical.
I'm taking some time to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up. When you're a working mom managing a house, making meals while on conference calls, keeping up a social life, walking the dog, and bringing the kindergarten teacher a flower on the right day of teacher appreciation week, that's really hard to do.
Everybody needs a break.
A time to think. To evaluate. To plan. To explore.
When you are in the daily throes of emails, calls, meetings, and spreadsheets that come with working, it's hard to take a step back and say, "Is this really what I want to be doing?" Even if you know that you don't like your current job, there may be factors like flexibility, good pay, or the ability to work at home that keep you there. When you're managing a job, kids, house, and relationship, who has time to add 'job search' to the agenda? Job searches are hard and when done well they take a lot of time. Someone who is stretched thin can easily stay unhappy in their job in order to avoid adding "look for job" to their to-do list.
In comes the sabbatical.
For years I have appreciated different aspects of my job like great customers, flexibility, part-time hours, home office, and I believed in the company I work for. Still, despite my "sweet gig," I've felt burdened by operational red tape, and I've wanted change. In the few conversations I've had over the years with potential employers, none of them were looking for a part-time, work-from-home-in-Austin recruiter. So I stayed. And felt stuck. And felt guilty every time I missed a "mandatory" meeting because I was with my kids.
When I started my break, I realized that I can do this on my own. I can hang up my shingle, be my own boss, embrace my part-time status by controlling my schedule, and do what I really love, which is to help managers and companies build groups in a smart and efficient way. Is it guaranteed money in the bank every week like my hourly job? No. Are there people out there who have worked with me before who are willing to hire and recommend me? I hope so. Will it make me more satisfied to work on projects that excite me? Absolutely. Will I be able to say yes and no to projects? Probably not in the beginning, but some day, maybe. Will I have times when I'm really busy and times when I'm not? Yes. Will I be able to figure it out as I go and evaluate in a year if it's working for me and my family? Absolutely.
When I started my sabbatical I didn't know what would come of it. Would I want to be a stay-at-home mom? Would I want to go back to my old job? Would I want to start something new? Being away and having a little bit of quiet time to think showed me that I do love working, but that my current job wasn't allowing me to fulfill what I love about working. Once I figured that out, it was easy for me to look at what I like and figure out the best way maximizing my work time doing the most of what I enjoy doing. I'm nervous and excited for the next entry on my resume, and I'm grateful to my sabbatical for giving me the clarity I needed to make it happen.
Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.