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7 BIG IDEAS for Regaining Power with Health Problems

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7 BIG IDEAS for Regaining Power in the Workplace with Chronic Health Problems 

1.  Focus On What You Can Control.   You may not be able to control the course of your illness, but you can take charge of your career direction and the choices you make.  View this as a challenge to meet rather than an obstacle in the way. 

2.  Ignore The Nay SayersCommon wisdom says that stress is bad and most work is stressful. Therefore, if your body is vulnerable, you should not work. But stress is not always negative.  Unpleasant work or working with uncomfortable pressure can be bad for anyone’s health. And, not working has been shown to be an added source of stress for many.  Chronic health problems present challenges, but throwing in the towel is not your only option.  Shape your work environment to meet your needs and you will reduce your stress and improve your health outcomes.


3.  Coming ‘Out Of The Closet’ is a Choice.  Many advise not to disclose health problems due to bias. But if symptoms are negatively impacting your performance, your secret is draining and can be harmful.  Know your rights under the ADA and FMLA.  Be judicious with what you say.  Maintain your right to privacy. But pretending everything is fine when your performance is suffering just does not make sense.   Be as public as you need and as private as you want to be.


4.  You Can Thrive, Not Just Survive. It is easy to equate acceptance with survival.  Most people will not expect more from you. But do you want this?  Raising the bar to stretch yourself includes recognizing your limits.  Aim high and seek what you need to thrive.  Reach beyond relief for satisfaction.


5.  Control Your Message.   If you choose to disclose, you can set the tone and influence the way others respond to your health challenges.  Design your message by considering what you want it to achieve, what do you need to say to accomplish this and who needs to hear it.  Be the creator and shaper of your messaging.

 6. Your Health Challenges Do Not Have to Define You.   Some people might paint you as a martyr. Others may consider you less worthy of recognition or a promotion.  Neither extreme works to your advantage and each gets in your way.  You want people to know that chronic illness is simply one of several cards in your deck.   

     A chronic illness is neither a source of shame nor a source of pride.

 7. Look for the silver lining.  Workplace success when facing an illness can transform you.  You can find strength and confidence you did not have before, qualities you never knew you had.  You can use this power to face other life challenges.  Create your successes while noticing and acknowledging what is hard.  

 Rosalind Joffe, the Chronic Illness Career Coach   © llc   2012  All rights reserved 


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Rosalind Joffe is passionate about coaching people and giving people the tools they need to thrive in their work while living with chronic illness. Rosalind Joffe built on her experience living with chronic illnesses for over 30 years, including multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, when she founded . This unique career coaching firm is dedicated to helping people with chronic illness who care about their work lives develop the skills they need to succeed. A recognized national expert on chronic illness and its impact on career, Rosalind is a seasoned and certified coach, the co-author of Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!, publishes a widely read blog, Working With Chronic Illness and can be found on twitter @WorkWithIllness.
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