by Maggie Mistal
Too often stay-at-home moms view onramping back into the workforce as a daunting task, especially if they’re looking to make a career change. If this sounds familiar don’t fret, read on. You’ll learn that onramping can be an opportunity to not only redefine yourself but also create your ideal work situation.
The first step is to define your passion(s). To do that, look to times in your life (not just work) when you felt your best, your happiest, and truly engaged in what you were doing (so much so you lost track of time). In the coaching world, we call these: “times of ecstatic engagement.” So ask yourself, what moments in your life really made you feel alive? In what moments was life or work not a chore, but truly enjoyable? I asked a client (and stay at home Mom) these questions. Her response, “I’ve felt most alive redesigning the interior of my home. I love picking out home products!” My client’s prior career (before staying home full-time) had been in designing fashion accessories. She realized now that she could leverage her past experience to land a position designing home accessories - work she truly loved.
Next, to identify the right fit, I find that most Moms need to re-assess what rewards they want from their work. Priorities change once you have a family so it’s important to define the work values most important to you. The list can range from high earnings to recognition to friendship to work/life balance to challenging work to helping others, just to name a few. Make a list of what work needs to give you in order for it to be motivating. For my client Janet, she needed to directly help others in order to feel motivated. She also wanted work/life balance so she could control where she worked. For her the ideal career was Sales Manager. She had a field staff that needed her help but didn’t require her to always work in the office.
To get back in touch with work/life trends in the marketplace, it helps to also inform your onramping strategy with research. Lists like Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers  are a great way to learn about new innovative perks companies are offering working moms. Job sharing, working parents’ networks and part-time career models are just a few examples of workplace progress that you can benefit from.
Last but not least, take all these insights and write down everything that you want in an “ideal job description.” Suspend all doubt and imagine that you can have exciting work, a great title, a competitive salary, flexible hours, an understanding boss, etc. Envision it all and then share your ideal job description with friends, colleagues and family. Enlist them in helping you find it. Now that you know what you want, and what the market place contains, you are truly ready for a fulfilling return to work.
Take these steps and you’ll see onramping in a whole new light. The task you once saw as daunting is now a great opportunity for success and happiness in your life and career. Such opportunities exist for you if you have the clarity to differentiate between the career you’ll settle for and the career you can create.
Maggie Mistal is a certified career coach, radio host and speaker on career development. She can be heard every Thursday on Martha Stewart Living Radio on SIRIUS Satellite radio. You can read her expert advice in articles in Businessweek, The New York Times, The New York Post, Body & Soul magazine and many others. Find out more at http://www.maggiemistal.com/  and email Maggie to learn how to land your ideal career.