I wanted to play football for England as a youngster. Then I wanted to be a flight attendant and travel the world. Unfortunately, my body had other ideas and life didn’t turn out the way I expected.
From my teens to my 30's I had lots of jobs, but was unable to maintain any of them or build a career due to not knowing what my body was going to do from one minute to the next.
Will I be able to get out of bed today? Will I be able to walk? Oh, I can't move my neck. There goes the knee popping out of the socket again.
To add to the frustration, I also had no idea what the cause was.
From retail to office work, every time I lost a job due to being absent too often or not being able to make it through the day it chipped away at my confidence, motivation and hope...for a while. Then I’d pick myself up and try again.
After many years of this rollercoaster and a dip that lasted far too long, I went through a soul-searching mission to find my purpose.
I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on myself and I knew that I needed to find a career I was passionate about, because getting out of bed and pushing myself to go to a job I didn’t enjoy and having to answer to someone who didn’t understand or care about my health was so hard to maintain.
So this new chapter of my life began with me running a youth empowerment organisation, using my life experiences, counselling qualifications and other relevant training to help young people empower themselves through personal development workshops and mentoring. During this time I also found myself coaching adults in personal development as well.
I ran the organisation for 5 years with a business partner, but found it was becoming more and more challenging to keep going. Consistently delivering my services at schools and other establishments became draining physically and emotionally, with the added challenges of raising a teenage son, managing flare ups, fatigue crashes and other symptoms.
So, I had to rethink my strategy and find a new plan of action. I decided to become a personal development coach,
As I said before, I’d already been coaching adults but I decided to get some qualifications to make it official. I did some home study courses and began working with clients who I either coached in person or online. Clients ranged from people wanting to change careers but unsure what they wanted to do, to people with chronic illnesses similar to mine who were finding life difficult to navigate.
Again, having to be present for one to one and group work became difficult as symptoms and fatigue increased, so I had to go back to the drawing board and rethink how I could still help people while earning an income. So I decided to focus on creating online, self-study courses for people with chronic illnesses. This not only allows me to have a passive income, but also provides resources for people in similar situations to be able to access my coaching tools at their own pace without having to be present for coaching sessions or online coaching groups. I still work with clients directly, but much less than I used to.
I also do voiceovers and I’m in the process of setting up an online health store - another avenue for passive income. I have my fingers in a few other passive income pies too.
As you can tell, I've had to rethink, regroup and restart many times. What I've shared here is just a snippet. But I've never given up on myself.
Being self-employed certainly has its pros and cons. Income can be inconsistent and you have to be self-motivated, but I think for somebody who has an unpredictable chronic condition or is unable to leave their home, there are definitely more pros and so many more options than there were before. And it’s so much easier nowadays with social media and remote working! Just think about the past year with covid….
Part-time or full-time it can increase your income, self-esteem and self-worth.
Whether it's working from home selling beauty products for a company, proofreading essays or websites, voiceovers or running an online business there are many options for people in our position. If you plan and structure it in the right way, you can work the hours you choose and even from your bed if you need to.
There may be times when the pain and fatigue are just too much, but please don’t let that stop you from trying. If you try something and it doesn’t work out, take time out, have a rethink and try something else.
So get your thinking cap on, remember who you are aside from your condition and explore your options.
What skills do you have? Start with the basics. What are your qualities? Think of all the things you do as someone with a chronic illness, because we have to have skills to manage our lives on a daily basis.
Think outside the box and don't be afraid to try something new.
For a little inspiration, tune into this month’s podcast episodes where I speak with two Chronic Warriors who are running their own businesses while managing their conditions.
And if you need a little nudge and direction, why not check out my free Self Audit worksheet on my courses page COURSES | Chronic Warriors (cassandraacampbell.com)
Remember, your condition is PART of you, but it’s not ALL of you!