Work and the Half-Empty Glass

It takes work to find work, and make work “work” for you and your family.

by Kathryn Sollmann • Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

One of my favorite writers does not pen literary classics. This writer — Jane Brody — is an early leader in the nutrition movement and a proponent of healthy living overall. I’ve dog-eared the pages of her cookbooks and read her New York Times “Personal Health” column religiously. A recent article, “A Richer Life By Seeing the Glass Half Full,” caught my attention for its parallels to women deliberating about a return to work.

So often I’ve spoken to women who say they truly want to work, but they show very little movement toward that goal. Potent negatives keep them in a “should I or shouldn’t I?” limbo: less time with their children in the summers, more household logistics, a paycheck that probably will not measure up to the one they left behind. I hear all the negatives, but very few positives.

When you’re on the fence, be fair to yourself and consider a return to work from both “glass half empty” and “glass half full” perspectives. Yes, there are things you give up when you return to work — but there are also many things that you gain.

Well yes, you say — I’d like more money, intellectual stimulation, self-fulfillment, challenge, etc. — but what are the chances I would actually find a job? In the current economy and with so much unemployment, it’s easy to add hopelessness to the list of back to work negatives. For many women (and men) this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I contend, however, that anyone can find a meaningful job in any economy with the right attitude, sales skills and job search strategy.

Brody would definitely agree. Her article is a good reminder to job-seekers who throw up their hands: “…rather than giving up and walking away from difficult situations, optimists attack problems head-on. They plan a course of action, getting advice from others and staying focused on solutions.”

Negativity conceals opportunity.

And it’s even bigger than that. Missing out on work is definitely not the end of the world, but pessimism can take a definite toll on your own lifespan. Brody’s article refers to a study that found over a 30-year period pessimists had higher death rates than optimists.

High drama aside, I know when you’re considering a return to work that positives have to outweigh negatives. That ratio is for you to determine. I just want to be sure that the positives get a fair shake.

It’s not a piece of cake to return to work, or to work while you have a family. But if you really want to add paid work to your life portfolio, it can be done. It is done successfully every day by women who do and do not have a choice.

Brody also says, “optimism is not about being positive so much as it is about being motivated and persistent.” It takes work to find work, and make work “work” for you and your family. But when you see the glass half full, you know that with motivation, persistence and careful planning you (and your family) can eventually fill that glass to the very top with many positive rewards.

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