Choices Around Work

 This is the column where our readers can write in with their questions. We’ll field the questions to one or more experts in the subject and post the responses typically within 2 weeks. Write Us with Your Question!

Marcia Clark

Marcia Clark, Life and Legacy Coach

Q: I am 40 and pregnant with my first child who is due in March. I am having a hard time determining how much time to take off of work when baby comes. I love my work and am eligible for 3 months off. Being away from work for that long has both its pros and cons. How should I go about considering this important decision?

Our Expert who responded is Marcia Clark is a Legacy and Life Coach based in Austin, Texas and a Board Member of the Nonprofit Advanced Maternal Age Project.

A: First of all, congratulations! What a wonderful time in your life. Enjoy each moment!

How fortunate for you that you have a job you love. But I also know just because you love it doesn’t make the decision any easier…and possibly harder. Often times until we are faced with a situation it is difficult to know how we will react or what we really want. Some questions I have for you to consider are as follows:

  1. What are you most afraid of?
  2. What are you most excited about?
  3. When do you have to make the decision?
  4. What flexibility do you have, if any?
  5. What would it do for you to wait until the baby comes to make the final decision?
  6. How might you look at it differently after the baby comes?
  7. If you could create the ideal situation, what would it look like?

One of the tools I use with my clients is the Pain Gain Chart from where I received my coaches training, IPEC. It is a very helpful tool when trying to decide between two choices. I call it the dimensional “T” chart as it can offer much deeper insights. You can also continue to use it to “drill down” with each decision you make.

Here is how it works:

  1. On a piece of paper write across the top Pain and Gain.
  2. Then along the side write the two choices you are faced with. In your case, “Return to Work” and “Don’t Return to Work.” This will create four quadrants.
  3. Now begin within each quadrant and record the first thoughts that come to mind WITHOUT much reflection. i.e. the Pain of Returning to work in the top left quadrant, the Pain of Not Returning to Work in the lower left quadrant, continue with the Gain Sections.

See what enfolds for you. Often times you will discover things you had not thought of, one quadrant may emerge dominant, a clear decision may emerge, or a totally different solution may come to you.

Sometimes what blocks us is the pressure that we are making a decision that will have to last forever. Allow yourself the freedom to revisit your decision in the future. Life is about choice and endless possibilities. Whatever choice you make will be the right one for you! And that is what matters. Wishing you all the best!

Marcia Clark offers a complementary session in person or by phone to those who are interested in receiving life coaching and creating plans for their legacy. Contact her at

Leave a Reply