Cultivating Courage: A 5-Step Guide to Returning to Work with Confidence

Returning to the workforce following a career break can be a daunting experience, as it requires significant courage to step back into the professional world. 

Resume gaps and industry changes, coupled with the possibility or outdated skills and knowledge, can make the prospect of re-entering the workforce seem overwhelming.

The good news is that it is possible to cultivate courage and overcome these challenges with the right mindset, support and approach. 

In this blog, we will explore 5 practical steps to help build the courage needed to re-enter the workforce and thrive in your career confidently. 

1. Believe in yourself 

Self-belief is the foundation of building courage when returning to the workforce after a career break. It’s easy to feel inadequate or question your abilities after an extended time away from the workplace. However, you must remember that you bring unique experiences and skills that can be valuable to employers. Focus on your accomplishments during your career break, and consider how they have developed transferable skills, such as time management, communication and problem-solving.

Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you, and challenge any negative self-talk by reminding yourself of your achievements and potential. With a positive and confident mindset, you can take on the challenges of returning to work after a career break. 

2. Set realistic goals

With a clear plan and realistic goals, you can approach returning to work with confidence and clarity. The journey ahead may seem daunting, so breaking down your goals into smaller, achievable, realistic steps for your current circumstances is essential. This approach will help you stay motivated, build confidence, and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Start by identifying your long-term objectives and then create a roadmap of smaller goals that will lead you to achieve them. Celebrate each small win along the way, as this will reinforce your belief in yourself and your abilities. 

3. Practice self-care 

Practising self-care is an essential aspect of building courage and maintaining your well-being when returning to the workforce. As you navigate the transition back to work, it’s necessary to prioritise your physical, emotional and mental health. Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy balanced diet. Take daily breaks to recharge, and use mindfulness or relaxation techniques to manage stress. It is also crucial to set boundaries, both in terms of your work and personal life, to avoid burnout. By prioritising self-care, you can approach your career with a clear mind and the resilience needed to overcome any challenges that may arise. 

4. Learn new skills 

Learning new skills is a crucial step in building courage and confidence. It is important to assess which skills are most valuable for your industry and seek relevant training opportunities to help you update your skillset and fill any knowledge gaps. Consider taking online courses or attending workshops, which can provide a flexible and accessible way to learn new skills. By investing time and effort into developing new competencies, you can demonstrate your commitment to professional development and show potential employers you are up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in your field.

Moreover, acquiring new skills can boost your confidence and help you feel more prepared to take on new challenges or responsibilities in your career. 

5. Seek support 

You don’t have to navigate the return-to-work journey alone. It’s important to reach out to people who can offer guidance, advice and emotional support during this transition. This support could come from family, friends, professional networks or online Returner communities such as Back to Work Connect. Consider finding a mentor or coach who can help you navigate the job search process, offer feedback on your resume and cover letter, and provide encouragement as you face the challenges of re-entering the workforce. Seeking support can help you feel less alone and more empowered. 

Ready to dive even deeper

You’ll love our latest podcast episode with Master Coach Jean O’Neill. 

Listen to the full episode here