This site focuses on giving people with chronic health conditions the strategies, tools and insights they need to thrive in their work and their lives.

Young and Living with Chronic Illness? 3 Career Building Ideas

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In the early years of  living with auto immune diseases,  I  felt completely out of step with people my age.  I had more in common with my grandparents and their friends than other 20 and 30 somethings.chronic illness among the young and career

At 29 and married one month,  I was bedridden and lost vision in one eye (multiple sclerosis).  That was our first year of married life. Over the years, my kids' activities and physical work required left me in a puddle.

The following decades,  I worried on a daily basis about how symptoms would affect me and left more than one good job because I couldn't keep up.

Being young and unwell too often leaves you feeling hopeless because you haven't had the chance to see what you can do in this life but here's my take on what to do.

At 61,  I'm in step with my age group.  It's common to talk with friends and colleagues about health losses and setbacks.  They discuss retirement and I'm delighted to be able to keep working.

But when I talk with my younger clients (in their 20's & 30's),  I'm reminded of  how hard it is to not have the one thing that everyone  associates with youth: good health.   It pains me that there are so few resources for young people who live with a chronic health condition, whether it be pain, fatigue or some disabling symptom that demands attention with nothing but heartache in return.    So what's the answer?  Here's my take on this:

  • If you're young, looking ahead to building your future, and living with a chronic health condition that's hurting your chances of continuing to work, do something about it now.  Don't wait until you've spent years under-employed or unemployed.
  • If you've  got the training and skills for a job but can't do that job because of your health,  there are other opportunities. How can you use those skills and apply them in a setting that is more amenable to your health needs?
  • If you haven't gotten specific training or skills,  put your focus on a career plan.  This involves careful self assessment,  research and goal setting.  It takes time, patience and determination.

It's harder than ever to get and keep decent jobs in this economy. You can't afford to coast, waiting for the next job to show up as your friends might.  You have to be as employable as possible to maximize your opportunities.  Even if you feel  'older' than anyone you hang out with, you can still be that person who sees what's possible.

This all adds up to the most important question:  What's it going to take for you to think differently about your situation so you can improve it?

If you're  'young' and struggling with work and career and want to know more about how I can help you improve your situation, send me an email -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Let's talk about what you can do to create your best possible work life.

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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 ciCoach.com . 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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