Moms, what do we do when we hit a career roadblock?

It’s inevitable for each and everyone of us to hit a roadblock once in a while as we journey through life. A roadblock is effectively something that hinders or prevents us from moving forward fearlessly and leave us at wits’ ends. How I see it is that it’s more often than not, a psychological barrier, because many things in life is really as much as what we make up our minds to be.

As a student, not understanding textbook concepts despite burning the midnight oil in preparation of the next day’s exam was traumatic. As a working adult, being sidelined by the boss despite doing your job was demoralizing because how else should you have performed? And the roadblocks don’t stop there. As a working mom, it became a lot about dealing with not only office politics and the need to always perform at peak, but also making sure the kids at home get mommy’s tender loving care exactly when they needed, which is almost like 24/7. And so, what do we do now, as moms?

Step 1: Learn from others

Throughout my years in banking, I learnt about how the industry organizes and remunerates by business arms and role types, saw trends of what’s ‘in’ and what will no longer be, gained working knowledge, product knowledge, process knowledge and what not. However, the most invaluable thing I earned would have to be the interpersonal skills picked up. I must admit that when I started fulltime work fresh out of the university, I felt like a social misfit 99% of the time. Being in a brandnew environment where we’ve to watch after ourselves, I felt insecure and worried about what others thought of me all the time. That was bad because it created a huge psychological barrier for me to cross and I couldn’t be me in front of others.

I left my first job feeling like I totally failed as a person. The fortunate thing though, was that I made sure I would do things differently the next time. Fast forward today and having moved through different banks and meeting new people, I learnt what worked and ditched what didn’t. I learnt that no one owes me a living and others’ opinions of me are essentially within my control, because they are the outcomes of how I behave and treat them right from the start. Rather than thinking how others should be treating me, I flipped it around and learnt to honestly care for others first, taking pleasure in small talk before anything else. Honestly, everyone’s fighting their own battle so why not be kind and smile more? From there, it’ll be much easier to see what others have to offer, because I believe that they always do in one way or another. 😊

Step 2: Dream.Believe.Create

It’s probably because I spent those years learning to be less of a social misfit, as a result, I remained in the same industry, doing more or less the same business function for the whole duration. In 2018, my year of reinvention 😁, I figured I wanted to do something different because more often than not, there’s a limit to how exciting or interesting a role is when you are doing the same nature of work day-in-day-out for 13 years. And so after a good 5 months of hiatus in early 2018, which gave me a decent amount of time for soul-searching and dreaming up my ideal life, I rationalized, realigned my priorities and believed in the types of work roles that would suit me today. By channelling my efforts onto job openings that could potentially fulfill, as close as possible, to what I wanted, I effectively created the pathway that moved me towards what I dreamt of.

After 1 month of applying for a new work function in an entirely new bank, I received a call for an interview that very quickly followed up with another within a day, and then started work approximately 2 weeks later. To be honest, there’s always 2 sides to a coin and sometimes trade-offs to make. But what’s important is knowing exactly what makes you tick, whether it is work-life balance, the paycheck, work environment/culture or the role prospects. Judging from what I’ve gleaned from past experiences, culture is clearly extremely important to me since we spend at least a good 8 hours at work daily (and so we’d better spend it happily!), as much as role prospects and worklife balance. Paycheck is important to many of us but as reinventing moms, we can surely be creative and re-think the finance part of things like cutting costs through recycling or reselling items that are no longer of use at home. 😁

Step 3: Hit the reset button

I love this analogy! In fact, it’s only recently that I realised I have been mapping out my reinvented mommy life by doing exactly this – hit the reset button! This divine revelation occurred to me a few days back while I was doing some photocopying of documents in the office. I must admit that I’m not exactly a smartass at office administration (which is a good skill to have by the way – tells a lot about common sense and intelligent guesswork πŸ˜‚), and so sought some help from a more seasoned colleague, who in turn, figured she needed help from another colleague who came by to use the photocopier so as to not hold her back.

Colleague A: Would you know how to set the print function to double-sided copying? The view is not allowing me to do that.

Colleague B: Oh… maybe try the reset button?

She pressed just that and it worked!

I was utterly amused when this colleague subsequently commented that it was pure guesswork because “it’s like the PC, if it doesn’t work, just press the restart button”. πŸ˜‚

So you see, things do work if you hit ‘reset’. I’d like to reckon this to the many frustrations/roadblocks we face in life. As moms carving out a career or making ends meet, there’s absolutely nothing wrong to take a step back, suffer a small paycut, or take on a supposed lesser role. What matters more is seeing the big picture and if taking on less at some point in time would eventually put us on the path to something greater, more desirable in our terms, such as building new skills and forging new friendships in new areas (all of which is invaluable to our roles as moms!), then by all means.

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