This post comes from Melanie Janes. Preparing for “the worst case scenario” is one of the things I teach in my community – it’s how I was taught as a doctor. Not only does this apply to making a medical diagnosis and planning treatment, it also applies to our money. Too few of us have adequate emergency funds in place to cover us if the worst should happen and you cannot afford to pay your bills.
Melanie has some other great tips on how to cope financially with chronic illness. I hope you find it useful.
And if you are going through illness at the moment, I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery.
How Can I Get Over This?
Having any illness, injury or disease can be stressful but when it lasts longer than expected, even someone who is proactive at planning can start to have difficulty in working out their professional and financial future. The insecurity of needing to reduce working hours or the threat of losing your job can shake anyone, let alone if you’re also battling health issues and maybe fatigue on top of that.
Here are some suggestions for how to cope financially with chronic illness.
Manage your words
Be kind to yourself and steer your inner dialogue to something that you would happily say to your best friend. Look for books and audible products on mindfulness and improving your mindset to help you. There are also some brilliant apps like Headspace that can help.
Plan for the worst, but hope for the best
You don’t have to know at this stage whether your health issues will be resolved quickly or not in order to plan ahead. You can start looking at both outcomes now, rather than waiting until you’re in a worse situation and adapt your lifestyle to suit.
Look at your spending
Review your expenditure as soon as possible, in the same way you would if you’d lost your job. Focus on your priorities, request memberships be put on hold if they won’t let you cancel them and ask for help from a friend if this is overwhelming right now. Do this early on and it will be much easier than dealing with it when you don’t have the money for this month’s payment. If you have debt, you can ask for a payment holiday.
Get out the paper and pens
Get serious about what you want personally and professionally. When I accepted that it was likely I’d be medically discharged from the Royal Air Force, I got a flipchart pad and markers and decided to dig deep, with a page for each area – my personal qualities, likes, dislikes, passions, how I would spend my ideal work day and many more.
When I decided I wanted my own business and had a rough outline, I then wrote a page on the values I wanted my business to stand for, my basic principle about what I want to do for my clients etc. Even if like me, you cringe when the flipchart is pulled out on courses, you need to get all those ideas, however crazy, out of your head because you have enough to think about. Keep the pages because you can always refer back to them months or years later to review if you’re heading in that direction and maybe rethink if you still want the same things.
How will you cover your expenses?
Decide how you will earn money on your worst day or week – are you paid sick pay and for how long? What happens if your migraine kicks in on the day of your presentation or you can’t force yourself into work when your depression comes out of nowhere? Arrange with a colleague to ensure they know the presentation in case you can’t do it or plan to get your project finished a week earlier so you have a buffer, reducing your stress which obviously can only help with your health anyway.
Could you change your way of working?
We’re all familiar with the 9-5, working in an office, but what it is could be different? I decided to set up my online course because although I was determined to help others, I was scared of letting people down if I couldn’t work, plus I also wanted to travel.
By working online, I knew I could work anywhere in the world, provided I had access to the internet. However, I also knew if I had a sick day, I wouldn’t be paid and when I was back to work after sick days, I would be spreading myself thinly between trying to get new clients or sell products vs spending time actually working with clients.
That’s why an online course suited me so well because I could set up things up to work automatically so I could earn money even if I was off sick and once someone bought my online course. It is then possible to work through the course without my presence. Of course I can’t just leave the business for weeks or months, no-one wants a faceless business and I myself really value personal interaction but at least it would give me more leeway to prioritise my health and have a more flexible lifestyle every day- much more than a traditional 9-5 can do!
Love what you do
Live authentically! Spending many hours a day doing a job that you don’t like is only going to zap your enthusiasm for life and that’s hardly going to be beneficial to get your body in the right state to fight your health problems. Turn the negative situation of poor health into a positive, just like many people who lose their job decide to start the business they always dreamed of.
It’s okay to be scared, you are more than capable of pushing through that fear and you certainly don’t need to think along the traditional lines of what a career looks like. What area of your health did you not see a solution to? If travelling was so problematic you avoided going on holiday, how about becoming a travel blogger aimed at people with disabilities or health limitations? You could either start with blogging or vlogging when you go on holiday or approach a travel company or hotel chain to suggest they sponsor you to advertise how they can accommodate disabilities. Gordon Hartman created a theme park for people with disabilities so let your imagination go wild.
See the lessons in every situation and make the decision right now to always focus on the solution, rather than the problem. And don’t forget, it’s not a bad thing to ask for help.
You have got this!
I hope you found that useful! If you would like to join the conversation, I have a free (and private) Facebook group you can join for more support, encouragement and guidance. We’re a friendly bunch, so we’d love to have you!
Dr Nikki x
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