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In this episode of “Where Was I…?” career coach Michelle Friedman talks about various exercises that can help you decide on a direction as you take the first steps to return to work outside of the home. She also introduces us to one of my new favorite phrases: “thought partner.”

As we move deeper into the transition back to paid work, clarity about our desires and interests becomes increasingly important (notice I didn’t say you need to start out with that clarity). Michelle says that one of the best ways to sort through what can seem like an overwhelming number of options or ideas is to talk about them with a trusted friend, family member, or career coach.

“I really suggest that you find a thought partner, whether it’s a coach, a supportive friend, or maybe it’s a co-worker from your past. First, to get out of your own head, and because I think entering into a dialogue is very helpful in terms of pulling out the raw ingredients of a relaunch,” Michelle says.

Those ingredients include considerations like what you want to do, whether you want to work full-time or part-time, if you’d like to go back to your last career, or if you’d like to try something completely different.

For many people, these things tend to come clear when you talk about them. “Try to get into a conversation… where you can sort through what you know about yourself, what you need to discover, and to reactivate some of the people from your past who you were connected to professionally,” Michelle says.

Remember, you don’t have to know everything all at once or at the very outset of your journey. There will be many of these conversations. That’s a good thing.