If you have had a midlife career break and are trying to figure out what to do next, what are some things you can do to help yourself in creating a return-to-work plan? There are many psychological, as well as logistical obstacles that you might find yourself facing when considering returning to work. However, creating a return-to-work plan doesn’t have to be a barrier to getting back into the workforce. A plan laid out in small steps, with the option to re-formulate that plan, is the key to finding your next career.

If you have previously taken the route of formal education and training, you may be tempted to believe that this is a way to jumpstart your career again. However, you may be relieved to know that only 27% of college grads actually have a job related to their major anyway. Pursuing a new degree can be expensive, and even with formal training there are no guarantees that this is the path to your new career.

Creating a return-to-work plan

There are several ways to reboot your career and jump back into the job market after a career pause. There is no “one-size-fits-all” option. Outside of formal training for the position you want, here are several things to consider working into your return-to-work plan:

Find Out Your Niche Areas of Interest

If you were previously trained in one field of study, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to enter that field again when you are ready to return to work. Many times the new career direction can come as a bit of a surprise.

Is there something that you are good at outside of your previous field of study? Are there any special interests that you have? Is there something that you are curious about that you would love to pursue?

Sometimes a side interest or hobby can generate a new or innovative idea for your next career path. Consider any niche areas of interest that you may have to help you keep your options open for your next career move.

Read more: Pause or Pivot: 3 Tips To Re-enter The Workforce

Gain Volunteer Experience

If work is not readily available, or if you are not quite sure if jumping back into the 9-to-5 is for you, start by gaining some volunteer experience. There are many local and non-profit organizations that regularly accept volunteers to help them complete their work or fulfill their mission.

If a career break has you wondering where to pick back up, volunteering can be a great way to add experience to your resume — without needing to get hired. There are many valuable skills you can gain by volunteering, widening your skillset and areas of experience. Volunteering is also a great way to network and open more doors for your future.

Don’t Underestimate Goal Setting

You may have heard before, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” How true that is when it comes to creating a return-to-work plan. Goal setting is of prime importance at this point in your life. Developing a step-by-step plan with achievable goals that you can check off along the way, will increase your chances of achieving them by 42%. Also take time to consider the possible barriers to successful completion of each step and possible solutions around those barriers. This extra time spent analyzing barriers and solutions will clarify your goals even further.

If you need help setting your goals, our experts and professionals at Opting Back In are here to help. We also offer personal assessments to help you find out your areas of interests and skills and can guide you through one-on-one coaching to help you overcome obstacles and create a road map to your goals.

Our free webinars and talks are designed to help you opt back in to today’s workplace. Check out Opting Back In’s free upcoming workshops and events and register for one today.