The most common question I get from  mothers contemplating a career relaunch is “Where do I start?” or “I have no idea what I want to do.”

When you are starting the process of re-entering the workforce, it’s that much more important to find work that fully aligns with who you are. Many women I work with say to me “I’m not going back to work unless it’s something I’m really interested in.” In other words, for many of you, it’s about more than the paycheck. If you are going to hire childcare, leave the home for up to 10 hours a day, then it better be worth your time, right?

Moving from curiosity to finding work that will be fulfilling means you have to make room for some reflection and clarify your values. This requires some soul searching and brutal honesty with yourself. The goal is to align your values with your work.  When you understand your values, you can focus on creating a vision of what career would match these values. And when you find a job that is a match, you will tap into your natural talents & gifts to do great work that you are proud of.

So, let’s start digging into what makes you “You.” This exercise will help you think through what you value most and what parts of your career match those values. Find some kid-free quiet time (I know what you are thinking – what kid-free time?!) Take out a pen and paper, your favorite journal, or use this Evernote template,  and answer these questions. Remember, you don’t have to share these answers with anyone, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself! And, your values and vision may change over time so keep this list on file to reuse in the future.

10 Self-Assessment Questions to Jumpstart your Relaunch:

  1. Describe your ideal day. If money wasn’t an issue, how would you spend your time?
  2. What are you most passionate about? What brings you energy?
  3. What depletes you and drains you of energy/passion?
  4. List 5 dream jobs you would love to do or try if there were no limitations on skills or social norms.
  5. What are your greatest strengths that you bring to life and career?
  6. What is important to you when you are working?
  7. What is the compliment or acknowledgment you hear most often about yourself?
  8. What are you most proud of?
  9. Note an experience that was stressful, difficult or challenging. How did you handle this experience effectively?
  10. What would you describe as a “peak moment” – a time you felt inspired, invigorated, or successful – in your personal life? Describe the details – who were you with, what were you doing? What made it a peak moment?

Look for themes that arise.  Are you most engaged when you are connecting with people and collaborating?  Then teamwork or support from others could be a value of yours.  Do you draw your energy from fast paced, results focused environments?  This may reflect values of performance or challenge.

For example, one of the themes that was clear to me when I thought about these questions was that while my previous careers centered around critical thinking and problem solving, what I enjoyed most was the teamwork, camaraderie and mentoring aspects of my roles. In fact, in looking at past performance reviews, I saw a trend that most managers gave me kudos for my soft skills – relationship building and ability to understand people dynamics. These were skills that I knew I had, yet I didn’t think about them as “skills” because they came so naturally to me. They weren’t things you learned in a classroom or a training sessions – they were the things that made me “me.”

Thinking about this during my self-assessment forced me to ask the question, “What kind of role would allow me to use the skills that are so innate that when I use them, they don’t feel like work?” Finding a new career where I could flex these skills to the max became my new focus, leading me to become a career coach which has been the most rewarding – and fun – career I have had!

I hope you find meaning in this self-assessment exercise. If you’d like to have a professional coach guide you through these questions or discuss any of your “Ah-ha!” discoveries, please apply for a FREE 20-minute consultation or join my monthly newsletter for career advice.


Jennifer Chow Bevan is a Los Angeles based executive career coach and founder of Path Relaunch. As a mom who has experienced her share of career transitions and relaunches, she is passionate about helping smart, motivated professionals and moms navigate their transitions. With a professional background in investment banking, management consulting, and brand management, as well as over 5 years as a career coach to MBA students at UCLA Anderson, Jennifer brings a business perspective to her coaching work.  She is trained through the Coaches Training Institute and holds an MBA from Wharton and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T.  For career tips and updates, follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennbevan and Facebook: PathRelaunchMore about Path Relaunch.