I’m so happy to answer this! Let’s break it down, shall we?
1. Listen to what’s underlying. Ask yourself questions to really dig into how you’re feeling and what your greatest fears are. Are you worried people have forgotten you? Think you are unreliable, unprofessional? Do you feel guilty about needing a break in the first place? Where is your fear coming from? Whose voice is it? When you pinpoint your underlying worries, it’s far easier to acknowledge them and then, take the actions necessary to alleviate them.
2. “Turn your setback into a comeback.” Cliché? Yep. I even saw it on Instagram. But for me, powerful too. Here’s the thing: I read it on Instagram, after 3 weeks in bed, off work, off training and completely off the internet. It’s cliché but it’s true. Remember: You were able to give yourself a much needed break, not just push blindly (and perhaps, detrimentally) through. That’s something to be proud of. Too often people press on, ignore the signals their bodies are sending them, and end up burnt out and in worse shape than when they began. You did not buy into the prevailing – and flawed – notion that if you’re getting your hustle on, only good things will follow. You had the inner strength to take a break, to survive. You are stronger now because of it. Your ability to set boundaries is something to be respected.
3. Practice compassionate awareness and pace yourself. As you return to business, can you liberate yourself from pushing yourself too hard? It may be tempting to leap in, full throttle, in an attempt to get back “where you were before,” but that’s not the way to sustainable business. Take things gently. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise. If the atmosphere online becomes overwhelming or counterproductive, go ahead and log off. Hang out in different places, and enter only with shields up and boundaries in place. Protect your healing body and mind.
4. Systems set up. Get systems in place that work to keep overwhelm at bay. Living with illness will likely limit your energy, so saving it anywhere you can is a pragmatic goal, and one where results are seen, almost immediately. For the disabled or recovering entrepreneur, there are few things that save as much time and energy as creating (and consistently implementing!) systems and processes that work for you and your business. (Read my guide to setting up systems here).
5. The superstar mindset. Re-frame your absence. Think of yourself like a superstar after a cancelled tour. Sure, you’ve taken some down time, but now you are back and available, visible and shining. Make a plan for what you want and put your energy behind what’s most important. Begin there, move forward. Get support on your journey back (our Trail Blazer’s Facebook café and the disabled entrepreneurs group are great places to start). Reach out. You deserve it…and your fans are waiting!
6. Be ready with answers. Plan your answers to any awkward questions you might get, post-comeback. If dealing with uncomfortable, perhaps intrusive inquiries in your personal life can be difficult, they are even moreso in a professional context. Think about how you will respond when someone asks you about what’s been happening, how or where you’ve been. How much is too much to share? What details are you alright in revealing? How much do they really want to know? Really consider (and even practice!) how you will respond to these, often very well-intended questions. If you’re looking for some further guidance, you can download my e-book, Pitch Perfect: What’s Wrong With You? It’s designed to help you craft what you will say about your illness, just as you would craft talking points about your business. Download it here.
7. Announce your availability and make it a selling point. Lay it all out: YOU ARE BACK! And you are offering something AMAZING. Tell everyone that’s been waiting. Your time and energy are limited. That means folks now have the good fortune to book – or buy from – you. You and what you have to offer are exclusive and special to the people you are reaching out to after your absence. They are privy to your comeback – lucky them!
Your work is needed. We’re glad you are here. Change the world. We are so excited for you.
What are your top tips for working after illness? Let me know in the comments.
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