“Managing Your Career During Infertility Part 2: Advancing Your Career” | myMindBodyBaby
In Part 1 of this series we looked at managing your career during infertility in terms of coping day to day. Literally, making it through your workday – because, at times, infertility is a game of day-to-day survival.
In this article we will explore the decision of whether to focus on advancing your career during this stage of your personal life – because, for some, diverting your focus to something you can control is form of coping.
Like all things, this too shall pass.
While you cannot foresee when this stage will pass, at some point it will. But herein lies the issue: how long will you be stuck on the hamster wheel of infertility? How I wish I could tell the me in 2013, “I know this stage – the appointments, the blood work, the heartache – feels endless right now. But it will end. On November 27, 2015 at 3am you will finally see those two pink lines that will be the start of the pregnancy that will lead to your son. Just tough it out, you’ll get there.” But alas, we cannot get messages like this from the future.
There is no crystal ball.
Unfortunately, you do not know how long this chapter of your life will last. In terms of managing your career during infertility, that can prove problematic. Can you afford to devote your energy and focus towards advancing your career right now? Or do you need to hunker down, make it through each day with minimal tears, and focus on your career at a later stage of life? Daphne Bykerk, a Partner at Mandrake talent recruiting, suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- Will a job change help or hinder you right now?
- What can you personally handle at this time in your life?
The answers to these questions are personal and we are going to explore some strategies to help you find the answer that works for you.
A real scenario.
Someone close to me shared the situation they found themselves in recently:
“My job was made redundant and I had a choice of applying for a stressful position in a new team with dubious team dynamics. The other choice was to take a job that would not challenge me professionally but would allow plenty of time for self care like exercise and massage and to make my IVF appointments without having to rearrange a million meetings and make up the time after work. I can always start taking on more challenging things once the procedures are over!”
This woman is a driven, career-focused individual who enjoyed and was professionally challenged in her current role. She was just about to start her first round of IVF when she learned that her role was being made redundant. She did a lot of soul searching and in the end had to ask herself where it would best serve her to focus her energy right now.
In researching this topic I had the privilege of being introduced to two smart, charismatic women. Women who understood first hand the struggles of balancing career planning with the uncertainties of family planning.
Morgan Ruskin, a Managing Partner at Beacon Talent Group, struggled with infertility for a number of years. For her, the decision to focus on advancing her career amidst her years of struggle came after acknowledging what she knew would help her. She hated the lack of control infertility left her feeling. But her career was something positive in her life she could still control.
Focus on what you can control right now.
Focusing on advancing her career allowed her to feel like she was directing her energy to something progressive and positive. “Focus on what you can control right now”, is the advice she would give to like-minded women. “You may feel stuck in your life right now. This isn’t the path you thought your life would take, and that is hard. You don’t have closure on the fertility aspect – you don’t know when it will end, or how it will end. But if you view things from a different perspective – you still have so much opportunity you can still harness right now. You can still control your career. And that can feel really good.”
Taking back control.
Empowering women to find ways to take back some control during the uncertainties of infertility is a focal point for us at myMindBodyBaby. Having been there ourselves, we know the struggle to feel like you are no longer in control – of your calendar, your moods, your energy levels – your body. And we know you want to feel like you are doing everything you can, to work towards your goal of having a baby. If you’re looking for additional ways to take back some control check out these different options to help support you on your journey.
It is all about your mindset.
After interviewing Morgan, she offered to put me in touch with her cousin, Natalie Ruskin. Natalie is a business and mindset coach and the founder of The MoMentum, a group coaching program for changemakers, who happen to be moms. She herself struggled with fertility challenges, and works daily with women trying to find what it is they truly want with their life.
Rocks in a jar.
She reminded me of a great time management analogy to help understand what is truly important to you right now. Imagine an empty jar. Now imagine it filled with big rocks. The jar would look full, right? Now imagine adding pebbles to the jar. If you shook the jar around, the pebbles would settle in around the rocks – right? And the jar would look still look full. Now, imagine you pour sand into the jar. That once full-looking jar would, in fact, still have room for thousands of grains of sand to settle in around the rocks and pebbles. However, if you first filled the jar with sand – there would be no room for rocks or pebbles.
Identify what you truly need in your life.
The rocks are the non-negotiables in your life. These are what you need in your day to day life to feel happy, healthy and are what give your life meaning. If you want a family and you need to proceed with IVF to get there – IVF appointments are one of your rocks. You have to be at those appointments. Non-negotiable.
Most people have to be at work, but they do not have to actively seek to advance their career right at this moment. But for some, pushing ahead with their career is a non-negotiable. They would feel worse off to not feel like they were holding the reigns on their career. Do you see where I’m going here? Others may see a host of other activities as their rocks: daily exercise, time for prayer, meditation, spending time with family, or having time to prepare meals to name a few. Assess what you need in your every day – even without the pebbles and sand, if your jar was full of your rocks your life would be full and satisfying.
The pebbles are things that matter to you, but that you can live without. These also vary by person – they may give your life meaning, but they are not critical. So for some – advancing your career right now might be a pebble. It is not critical to your being that you take the next step in your career right now. It is something you can focus on later.
The little things.
Finally, the sand represents the more minor aspects of your life. Running errands, watching TV at the end of the day – the types of activities you may need or like to do but that take up time without really adding true value to who you are as a person.
We only have so many hours in a day. If you fill your jar with sand first, you are going to run out of space for the rocks and pebbles. And when we are assessing our mental outlook and what we need to feel satisfied – the rocks are what are important.
Bringing it back around.
Let’s reconsider your career in light of your rocks, pebbles and sand. What is your career to you? Is it a rock? If so, then finding ways to apply your energy to your career and your fertility treatments will be critical to your mental well-being. Is it a pebble right now? Then maybe you find ways to just sustain yourself in your role at the moment, and down the road you can once again focus on advancing your career.
What are your other rocks?
While deciding whether or not your career is a rock or not, take time to also identify the remaining rocks you need in your jar. And if some of those happen to be finding ways to eat healthily, exercise and take care of your mental well-being – remember, myMindBodyBaby is here to help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and think you may benefit from a mindset coach, Natalie offers complimentary 30 minute coaching calls.
Whatever your rocks may be, we hope this article helps you identify them to find a little more mental peace during this tumultous time.
Lyndsey Clabby is a co-founder of myMindBodyBaby. It took her and her husband four years, countless needles & tests, multiple failed rounds of IUI, miscarriage, and two rounds of IVF to bring their son Bronsen into the world. Sawyer came two years later, followed by Adalyn in 2020. Self-reported cardio-addict, when not mommying and helping support other infertility warriors, she likes to run and try new workouts. She also pretends she’s crafty. She is a marketer & entrepreneur (BMSc, MBA), certified fitness instructor for the past 16 years, and a Patient Advocate for Fertility Matters Canada.