Joan Friedlander, an Annapolis life coach, knows intimately about a segment of the population that works “under the cover,” as she explains.
They’re individuals who suffer from health ailments, or a health crisis such as cancer, that have debilitated them enough to derail their careers. They work from bed because, too often, a full recovery seems unattainable.
“It's time that those of us who must slow down for our health stop seeing ourselves as weak and ineffective,” says Friedlander, who co-authored “Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend!” (2008, Demos Health).
Crohn’s disease left her unemployed and underemployed for almost 20 years until she developed a career out of helping entrepreneurs rebuild or strengthen their own careers. Today, she’s completed a manuscript for her latest book on the topic, to be released in January, called “Business from Bed: A 6-Step Comeback Plan to Get Yourself Working After a Health Crisis.” (Demos Health, 2013) Her goal is to simplify the path to recovery for people with chronic illness, a sizeable group. Nearly 1 in 2 Americans are living with some kind of chronic illness, and 60 percent are between the ages of 18 and 60. But it’s a silent group.
“Employees throughout the ranks keep their health issues hidden, fearing loss of employment,” she explains.
Friedlander says health setbacks leave people at crossroads. When they persevere, they end up in better places with a more balanced life. Some are even motivated by their illness to abandon the previous career path entirely and start anew.
In her book, she breaks up the healing process into six parts:
Step 1: Beyond Survival, Rising from the Ashes. This is the time to overcome the fears associated with your illness. Be honest about what threatens the comeback so that you can separate fear from fact.
Step 2: Embrace the New Normal. Take time to think about your “ideal life” and how you can rebuild a career or business that incorporates your evolved values and talents.
Step 3: Rethink Your Business or Career. Think pragmatically here. How will you rebuild your business or career without undermining your health, and where should you begin?
Step 4: Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This will help change relationships and make it easier for you to recover.
Step 5: Slow Down. Balance your drive to get back to work with your wish to live a more consciously healthy life. Most importantly, you’ll need to learn how to yield to your body and when to push through
Step 6: Organize for Success. Develop a “master planning schedule” that will help you plan and set goals when health and energy waver, without veering from your priorities.
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