7 Habits For Regaining Power in the Workplace With Chronic Illness
1. Focus On What You Can Control. You may not be able
to control the course of your illness. You can control the direction you take and the
choices you make regarding that illness in the workplace. View your chronic illness as a
challenge to meet, not an obstacle in the way.
2. Ignore The Nay Sayers. Many people will tell you that work is
stressful and that rest is best for people with chronic illness. Ignore them. Unpleasant
work or too much work can be bad for anyone's health but stress or lack of rest does not
cause chronic illness. Yes, you have more challenges now than you did before, but throwing
in the towel is not the only option.
Shape your work environment to meet your needs and you can't harm yourself.
3. Come Out Of The Closet. Chronic illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
Keeping it a secret depletes your precious energy and gets in your way.
Maintain your right to privacy and be judicious with your information, but don't take on
the burden of pretending that you don't have a chronic illness. Be as public as you need
to be and as private as you want to be.
4. Don't Just Survive - Thrive. It's easy to feel that survival is
enough. And most people who love you won't expect more from you than that. But chronic
illness or not, you weren't born for mediocrity.
Raising the bar doesn't mean doing more than you can; it means aim high and seek what you
need to thrive. Reach beyond relief; go for the satisfaction.
5. Control The Message. Other people on the job will be looking to you to
set the tone, and you can influence the way they respond to your illness. Design and
control your message: What and how much do you want to say? Who do you want or need to say
it to? When and where do you want to talk? Get out in front of the conversation.
6. Don't Let Your Illness Define Who You Are. Some people might try to
paint you as a martyr; others may consider you less worthy of recognition or promotion.
Neither extreme works to your advantage; each gets in your way. The message you want to
convey is that your chronic illness is simply one of several cards in your deck; just like
Having a chronic illness is neither a source of shame nor a source of pride.
7. Look for the silver lining. Although you may not believe it now,
workplace success in the face of illness is transforming. Many of us have found new
strength and confidence - qualities we never knew we had - as a result of our illnesses.
We have used this new found power to face other life challenges. It need not all be about
the bad news.
Rosalind Joffe coaches individuals to thrive in the workplace. Drawing on 25 years of work
experience, living with chronic illness, she helps others prosper in their work ©2003
Rosalind Joffe. All rights reserved.
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