The kids are finally grown enough for you to feel OK about re-entering the work world, or the economy has made such a mess of your single-income life that your spouse is nudging you into “You gotta get a job, Honey,” emphasis on the “gotta,” or you’d been on disability, recuperating from that awful disease, but here you are now, as well as you’re going to get and it’s time to earn your keep. Yikes! Whatever skill-set you had is woefully outdated, the job market is a disaster, how in the world are you going to make it? Get a job? Get paid enough for it? Keep the job? The questions pile up, and you’re at a loss for answers. All you can see is stress, strain, worry and failure.

Not exactly an optimistic mind-set with which to re-enter the work world . . .

Let’s try something else, shall we?

1) Look beneath the surface

Deep within you lie those personal qualities that exist beneath whatever skills you may have learned or the trade you once practiced. Personal qualities are, for example, the self-discipline you've acquired, the creativity you've brought to the surface, the focus and concentration you've developed over the years. Qualities like the ability to listen, the patience, the perseverance, the persistence that have evolved as you have met the various challenges of your life. Whether it was raising the kids, overcoming a painful illness, or just plain dealing with day to day life, you have developed beyond the person you were when you left the work world however long ago.

These qualities, and many many more, are your true value, what underlies your more obvious skills and the "what I know how to do." These underlying qualities have benefits you need to become aware of, so you can call on and use them when faced with the need to go in new directions.

Make lists of your qualities. Ask close friends and family members to help you. You’ll be surprised at just how many you have, and when you think about it, just how useful they are in any situation.

2) Discover your talents
Look for your deeper talents, the general talents that support your specific abilities. For example, you have a talent, a gift for communicating with others. This meant in your former job, you were a good manager. Or with your kids, that you successfully facilitated the many necessary compromises and household negotiations. You can apply that talent for communication to many areas, not just managing/kids. Look for other ways, other jobs, in which you can use your talent as a communicator.

Think of your talents as your strength, your main support, just as the trunk of a tree is its main support, and the various jobs which could come out of your talents as the branches of a tree, many and varied.

3) Be flexible
One of the most critical findings of the research that has been done on those who survive downsizing or other periods of unemployment and go on to greater success, is their willingness to be flexible. People who said things like "I'm a middle manager, I've always been a middle manager, so I have to find new work as a middle manager," were least likely to be successful. Those who were willing to say, "I've always been a middle manager, I'd like to find new work as a middle manager, but I'm open to doing something quite different" were most likely to succeed.

Expanding your options is bound to lead to greater opportunities for success. Remaining flexible is much easier when you are basing that flexibility on your underlying qualities and talents. You are not starting from scratch (which can be really terrifying) but rather are looking for yet another way to express those very unique qualities and talents which are profoundly yours.

You don’t have to panic at the thought of entering a work world which seems like an alien beast, ready to devour little you. On the contrary, your inner qualities and talents are universal and timeless, and will serve you well regardless of the strangeness of this new world you are entering. Take heart! Success is around the corner.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of nine best-selling books, including her most recent, Your Man is Wonderful and Dangerous Relationships. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. Visit,