Spoiler Alert! This has a happy ending and some practical advice on the way!

According to the Careering Into Motherhood report “Life as a Working Mother 2023”, “65% of working mothers feel there have been few career opportunities available to them since maternity leave”.

In other worrying research by the Fawcett Society, 10% of women leave their careers because of menopause symptoms, rising to 25% if the symptoms are severe. Given that by 2025, 12.5% of the world’s population (over 1 billion people) will be in menopause – that’s a lot of talented, ambitious, experienced women, leaving their careers prematurely.

Just these startling figures alone highlight the high level of untapped talent, and the talent draining out of our organisations.

And it’s happening at key life stage changes. Like planning for a family, becoming a parent, peri/menopause.

There is a lot that still needs to happen within organisations, and at a government level, to support women at these key transitions. However there are also things that WE can do to help ourselves as well.

This short article is focused on how we can help ourselves to successfully continue to develop our careers during our key life stage changes.

I believe we need to recognise these life stages as positive catalysts and find ways to harness their power to make sure we continue to live our dreams and ambitions. (Whether that’s in the workplace or not).

1. The Impact of Life Stage Changes
  • As we go through life stage changes there’s an impact. Some of it great and positive (like not worrying so much about what people think!), and some of it not so great:
  • Our confidence takes a bash (which can stop us going after the promotions, or make us feel we can’t change jobs, or to ask for what we need)
  • What we want has changed (which can translate into feeling unfulfilled in our work, or stuck)
  • What makes us happy isn’t the same anymore (which can make our work start to feel meaningless and us miserable)
  • Our self belief is knocked (we start to doubt our experience and ability, we feel like a fraud/ imposter)
  • We don’t know where we fit now (often translates as feeling like we need to prove ourselves again)
  • Energy levels are up and down (which can translate into mental and emotional health issues)
  • And the rest!

100% of women will be affected by some kind of life stage change at some point, and will feel impacts. But the good news is we have the power to do something about the negative impacts!

For starters, we can look at ourselves and our experiences through different lenses, start becoming really aware of our thoughts and reframing them to serve us, and adopting a lifelong learner attitude to our personal growth.

2. The Myth of Linear Progression:

Women’s careers can take unique paths filled with twists, turns, and reinventions. Personally I’ve gone from a corporate role in a global team, to a secondary school teacher (and back again), to a qualified Coach running my own coaching business. It’s time to embrace our nonlinear journeys and explore diverse opportunities with our hearts and minds open.

And it’s the perfect time. The traditional linear career trajectory ending in the Rolex watch and the golden handshake, is pretty much gone. Replacing it is job hopping Millennials, “Squiggly Careers”, and working multiple jobs, making non linear career paths not just acceptable but expected.


So if you’re feeling like your career experience is hotch potch, don’t worry! You could look at your experiences and find common themes – skills, personal strengths, types of industries/ companies worked for. Where are the common threads in your life-to-date experiences that you could pull out and talk about?

Validate your time at home with the children by highlighting your highly desirable transferable skills: high productivity despite sleep deprivation, military precision organisation skills, calm under pressure, proven multi-tasker, how you took on a new role (parent) with no training and are smashing it…

3. Redefining Success by What Makes You Happy NOW:

Self-coaching questions you could ask yourself:

  1. What’s your individual definition of success?
  2. Are you working towards it? (Or are you living by society’s definition of success?)

Being happy through our different life stages means regularly checking in with our personal values, our passions and our purpose, and making sure they still align with our career aspirations.

Signs they’re not = unfulfilled, tired, things seem hard, stuck, bored, burnout.

Signs they are = energy, drive, motivation, fun, ideas, space.

What you want now, what makes you happy now, is likely to be very different to what you wanted before you had kids. It’s worth thinking about, especially if your lifestyle often feels like hard work.

Here’s a simple 10 minute exercise you could do to explore what makes you happy and brings you joy. 

There are many inspiring stories of women who have challenged conventional notions of success and found fulfilment on their own terms (you just need to read many of the bios of coaches here at CIM!).

SELF-COACHING QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: Who inspires you to live the life you truly want? What can you learn from them?

4. Embracing Work-Life Integration:

We talk about “work-life balance”, but shifting our mindset to “work-life integration” or “way of living”, helps us to embrace the fluidity and interconnectedness of different life areas in a holistic way. And take the pressure off ourselves.

Steps to establish boundaries – 1. Decide what is acceptable to you. 2. Communicate your boundaries to others. 3. What will you do if they break your boundary?

Simple way to prioritise your self-care – take just 10 minutes a day to do something that makes you feel fulfilled, joyful, pleasure, excitement, calm. Do this every day for a month and reflect on any changes. Amend as needed!

5. Embracing Change and Navigating Uncertainty:

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”.

By spending regular time on self-coaching activities (e.g. journaling, time for reflection, increasing awareness, asking yourself questions to help reframe your thoughts), we can more successfully embrace change and be more adaptable.

Developing self-coaching skills and a growth mindset enables us to navigate uncertain times and seize new opportunities.

I invite you to welcome change as a positive catalyst for your growth and transformation, rather than something to be feared or run away from.

If you want to explore the ‘growth mindset’ concept you could listen to the TED talk by Carol Dweck who explains the concept and how you can learn it.

6. Continuous Learning and Growth

Successfully navigating life stage changes and developing our careers means having a ‘white belt mentality’ to learning by being a lifelong learner.

“The more you read the more you know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go” (Dr Seuss).

For more ideas on lifelong learning and personal growth, have a read of “Energize” by Simon Ong, or listen to a podcast like Mel Robbins.

If you want any ideas on what else is a good read, or want to chew the fat on personal development books, let me know! (helena@starttheripples.com).

7. The Power of the Collective:

The importance of us women supporting and uplifting each other in our careers goes without saying… look no further than here at Careering Into Motherhood!

The benefits of networking, mentorship, and building strong professional communities will give you the cheerleaders, the ideas, the strategies and tools you need to navigate your life stage changes so you continue to grow and develop your career for as long as you want it.

I invite you to embark on your own empowering and transformative journey, embrace your unique path, and get excited creating the future where you ride the waves of life stage change, and thrive!

I’ll leave you with a question to ponder:

  • What will you do to embrace your current (or next) life stage change and make it work for you?

If you’re going through a life stage change and need some help navigating it with some practical tools, useful ideas and proven strategies, send me a message, you can get in touch via my profile page.

This article was written by  Helena Ewers, one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches. Helena helps her clients to find clarity and direction through the fog, reconnected with their “this is me!”, and reignited with their sparkle and confidence to live their life.  She offers free discovery calls for prospective clients.