As I started my third trimester, my husband and I moved halfway across the country for his post-law-school job. When I first learned I was pregnant, I was anxious about finding a job. Prior to moving, I worked full-time at a communications strategy consulting firm that works mostly with nonprofits. It was a job I loved, but not one I knew how to translate to our new city.
While anxiety inducing, the timing of my pregnancy and our move turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing me the opportunity to evaluate my career goals.
Even if you don’t have the same career transition that I did, here are 3 reasons why having a baby is a great time to evaluate your career goals.
1. New identity
One of the things I really struggled with in the first few months after my son was born was my own identity. Part of that was because my husband and I went through so much change at once and the transition was rough. But I also had a hard time trying to reconcile who I was as a mom with who I understood myself to be before my son was born.
Allow yourself the time to get to know the new you. One of the things that helped me was to schedule two hours each weekend to leave the house by myself—just to think and be alone, apart from my role as “mama.” As Joan Peters wrote on maternal identity in her 1998 book When Mothers Work:
“Certainly some people do not derive any aspect of their identities from work, just as some derive no self-definition from parenthood. But they are exceptions. The majority [of women] need both.”
As you begin to understand the amazing new woman you are becoming, you may realize that your priorities and goals have shifted, too.
Those insights about the new you can help shift your vision of work as you enter motherhood.
2. New priorities
While your priorities may shift when you become a mother, that doesn’t mean that your career is no longer important. It may just be the case that it’s not as important as it used to be. You may have thought you wanted to go back to work full-time, but realize that you’d rather stay home. Conversely, growing your role at work might become even more important to you. Maybe you planned to stay home, but decide later it’s not for you.
You might also find new superpowers. While going to work in the past may have meant leisurely lunches with your work husband or long hours spend texting friends, many working mothers discover newfound focus at the office. In fact, studies have shown that moms of two are more efficient at the office than anyone else. It’s about priorities.
I thought I would go back to working full-time in an office. However, once my little guy was here, I really liked being home with him. At the same time, I really needed the mental stimulation, sense of accomplishment and the feeling that I was contributing to broader society that work provided. So I decided to pursue a flexible work schedule that allowed me to work from home.
Take some time to contemplate your priorities and consider what your changing values might mean for your career goals.
3. Renewed passion
In 2014, Fast Company caught up with Reva Seth, a mom of three and the author of The Mom Shift: Women Share Their Stories of Career Success After Having Children.
Over the course of the conversation, Seth explained that for many of the the women she talked to:
“Motherhood gave them the push they needed to do the thing they’d always wanted to do.”
Seth told the magazine she’d always wanted to write a book, but it wasn’t until after she became a mom that she took the leap.
The time of transition that comes with having a baby can be the perfect jumping-off point to pursue your passion, whether that means starting out on your own, refocusing on your current job or even going back to school.
Whatever you decide: You’ve got this.