When you begin your career life and make that choice to invest your time, energy and money to enter a career that is challenging, never would you think of the word “fibromyalgia”.  There is a good likelihood you never even knew what fibromyalgia is. Then after so much sacrifice to get the career that you wanted, or at least thought you wanted, you wake up one day with horrible body pain and fatigue and BAM… you are hit hard with the reality that you have fibromyalgia.  Now what?

The Next Step

This little summary is my story and the story of so many other women who are over achievers in life and wanted that challenging high-ranking career.  But having a demanding career often comes with stress, lack of sleep, and little if no time to spend on self-care. We put a blinder on that we are even suffering until it gets so bad that ignoring it is no longer possible.  

My symptoms became very apparent my first year of law school but I just chalked it up to being tired from classes and just pushed through it.  As I began my career my symptoms little by little starting manifesting more until about 6 years later I felt so sick I didn’t know if I could even get out of bed and make it through a day.  I finally got my diagnosis and knew that something had to change. I made the choice to slowly start transitioning into teaching restorative yoga, and coaching people on becoming the best version of themself.  As I made this transition there was a lot of gilt I initially felt. Although I knew everything I was doing to transition career wise was healthy for me and that I would be making an even greater difference in people’s lives, I felt an enormous sense of gilt.  What would become of my law degree and my two Master’s degrees that I had worked so hard for and financially invested so much into. People thought I was crazy to be walking away from my law career and I felt judged for it. I also felt as if I was turning over an identity that I had become.  Though I knew the truth though in order for me to heal I needed to slow down, reduce my stress and honestly do something that was more heart centered career wise. It certainly was not an overnight transition or decision but eventually my gilt turned into gratitude.

I wanted to share this piece of my journey because I know that so many women are in a similar circumstance where they are plowing through life in a career that has little leeway and ignoring their symptoms because there is no other choice.  It is scary! But the face is that if you don’t make some shift in your life and perhaps your career then eventually you might be in a position where you will loose your health.

So what choices can you possibly make?  If you are a mother and supporting your family or have student debt that you are paying off the thought of making an adjustment might seem impossible.  But see how you can look outside the box or where there is some space for change.

If you are set on staying in your current career here are some things to think about :

  • Talk to your boss about the option of working part of the week from home.  You never know unless you ask.
  • See if you can relocate closer to work so that you can gain some time in your day for self care that you would otherwise be commuting.
  • Find some good health practitioners around your work place that you can possibly see during your lunch break.  For example acupuncture or massage.
  • Try to reduce your stress while at work by scheduling time for deep breathing or meditation.  Even 5 minutes here or there will make a difference.
  • Is reducing your hours possible? Once again you never know unless you ask.

If you are open to making a career shift here are some things to consider :

  • Can you possibly move to an advisory or consulting role in the career that you are in?  For example a CPA can consider becoming a recruiter for accounting firms.
  • Is there something you are also passionate about that you can turn into a side business to try out?
  • Is there another department at your current job that is not as demanding that you can possibly transition to?
  • How can you possibly downsize in your life to financially support moving into a new career?
  • Can you open your own consulting business related to your current career?

The earlier you can think about these options the better.  Be proactive and be realistic about your health and how your career in playing a role in your life.  It is also great to get your family on board with your thoughts and concerns so you have support in making these important decisions.  Be honest with yourself and with them. Talking to a professional coach is also a great way to have the support you need in making tough life decisions.

The important thing to remember is that you do have choices and a shift into a life that supports your health is possible!

Be your best you!
Jennifer