The most common fears for women returning to work – and how to get past them

Tired woman rubbing her eyes

 The media fuels us with plenty of reasons to be fearful. World crises aside, when we zoom in to our own lives and the courageous decisions we have coming up, it’s easy to see how the grip of fear can hold us back. But fear is an F word you don’t need to be frightened of.

For just a moment, let’s forget the gender pay gap, the glass ceiling, the lost career, lifetime earnings, the inflexibility of the workforce and the increasing cost of living. Yes, these are obstacles to move past, and yes, you can become overwhelmed, even paralysed if you think about them for too long.

So, let’s not

Every day, all over the world, women are making brave choices for themselves and their families. Most of the time, these choices are made despite the perceived external obstacles, like the ones we’ve just considered. These obstacles may exist, but they don’t have to stop you.

After working with people to create real change in their lives for the last 10 years, one thing I do know, is that the internal obstacles are often the biggest inhibitors to change. By working to shift these, I consistently see how the perception of external obstacles also change. Fear is a major internal inhibitor that we love to shift. When you move past the fear you are feeling, the gender pay gap can shrink, the glass ceiling can be shattered, you can relaunch a career after children, find flexible work that fits and support the life you’d like to lead.


Read more about getting back to work:


The two most common fears we see holding women back from making courageous choices are a fear of change, and a fear of failure. Fear doesn’t need to hold you back. By replacing a focus on fear, with a focus on courage, we start to see possibilities emerge. If you’re looking for a way to move past your fear, try applying this simple three-step process:

1. Call out your fear

Call out your fears in simple language. Write them down, break them down, talk about them with someone else. Watch what happens.

2. Challenge your fear

Come up with as many reasons as you can to debunk your fear. What is this fear costing you? What do you have to gain if you can move past it? 

3. Throw courage at your fear

If you had unlimited courage, how might you move past the fear? Come up with more than a couple of ideas. 

When done well, these three steps help to shift your perceptions (read; reality) and to take action. And by feeling the fear, and doing it anyway (thanks for that advice 20 years ago, Susan Jeffers, Ph.D), you’ll start to create more real life evidence that will further support you to reduce the power of your (old-no-longer-relevant) fear. That’s the funny thing about fear, isn’t it?


This post was originally published on SheThrives.org

 If you’ve had time off work to raise your children and are starting to feel like you have the headspace to take on some work again,  you should register for their next 4 week Career Clarity Program that will help you find a career that aligns with what matter most to you. Register now – the first 100 to register get $100 off, plus are eligible to enter to win a SheThrives Scholarship if you register by 30 September. Just use the promo code pb1018 when you register.

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