Have you ever been too sick to work over a long period of time?
I’ve been sick for over 5 weeks and I haven’t fully recovered yet. Being unable to work has been difficult for me. When I used to be an employee, being sick didn’t have the same effect on me as it does now. As entrepreneurs, our business depends on us to be there for our clients and our team.
Being sick the whole of March 2021 and still feeling weak in the first week of April has taught me some great life lessons I want to share with you in this episode.
If you’re more of a reader, scroll down to read the lessons I’ve learned from being sick and unable to work for 5 weeks.
What you will get out of this episode:
- How my sickness started (1:15)
- Diagnosis: RS virus (3:38)
- Second diagnosis: Pneumonia (8:30)
- Reading six books in one week (13:42)
- The life lessons I learned during my sickness (20:11)
10 Life Lessons I Learned From Being Sick
You can’t control everything
Sometimes things are out of your control. Getting sick is one of them and when you do, the only thing you can do is focus on getting healthy. Often that means doing absolutely nothing. For two weeks the only thing I was capable of doing was watching Netflix. I couldn’t read or sleep, but I could watch Netflix, so that is what I did.
Your health is your number one priority
It’s easy to say that health comes first but actually making it your number one priority is another thing. Despite having a chronic illness – or maybe because of it – I haven’t put my health first. But getting sick for five weeks is definitely a wakeup call. I don’t want it to happen again. If there is anything I can do to prevent it, I will.
You’re not as indispensable as you think
We sometimes think we’re the only ones who can do certain things – until we can’t, and someone else has to do them for us. Being as sick as I was, I couldn’t do any coaching calls, no podcast recordings or any internal meetings with my team. I couldn’t even send a voice message because my voice was on the verge of going away. And still everything continued without me. The world didn’t fall apart. My team took over and ran the business without me! No coaching call got cancelled, a podcast episode went out every week and overall my clients were very well taken care of.
You can prepare for this
Even though I didn’t plan on getting sick and I don’t wish this on anybody, it’s actually interesting how well my team and I were prepared. First of all, having a team is super important. Second, making sure that there is a backup for everything is crucial. Last year we started to practice our backup strategy. If anyone went on holiday, we made sure there was a person on the team who could take over.
With my sickness we have been forced to figure out a backup for everything I do. I had batch recorded five podcast episodes and my podcast manager recorded the intros for me. My marketing director who has been with me for over 6 years stepped in and did my coaching calls. I had just hired an integrator who was supposed to take over a lot of my tasks and she had to jump into the deep end and only got instructions over Slack from me. And it all worked out! My team stepped up and I could work on getting healthy. I’m so grateful for my team.
You can be sick and still be there
If I hadn’t shared on social media that I was sick, nobody would have known. When I was at my worst and could barely breathe, I could still comment and reply on social media. When people heard I was sick they told me to relax, sleep and get off social media, but it was actually my connection to the world. I loved being able to see what people were doing and comment and reply on posts from friends, family and clients. Being sick doesn’t mean that you are too sick to be there for others.
Allow yourself some slack
When I felt most horrible, I would allow myself all the things I don’t normally eat or drink. I felt sorry for myself and I think that’s OK. Of course I made sure to eat healthy but I also allowed myself all kinds of treats that made me feel better about being home alone and sick.
You can ask for help
Being isolated at home alone was tough but all the help I had made it easier. My sister checked on me twice a day and went shopping for me. My mother brought me home-cooked food every second day. Friends of mine also sent messages and offered their help. And then my husband flew in to take care of me, which of course was the best.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
It sounds like a cliche but this experience – which isn’t over yet – has made me mentally stronger, even though the physical strength isn’t back yet. I’ve realised that I, my team and my clients are capable of more. There are things that I have not made a priority which will now be a priority for me in my personal life and in business. It’s like having a reset – I can set new rules now and follow them.
What you’ve putting off becomes more important
There are a few things I want to do in my personal life and in business that I’ve been putting off for too long. Now these things have become top priority for me. I’ve rearranged my calendar and as soon as I get healthy I’m dedicating my mornings to my priority projects. For now my mornings are dedicated to sleep, as getting healthy is my top priority.
Enjoying non productive things that make you happy
I used to be an avid reader. As a teenager I read five books a week. Then I started reading less and less, sometimes only two books a year. In 2007, I set myself the goal to read 26 books and I did, but it was a one-off. I joined a business book club a year ago to read more again but it didn’t help. Getting sick renewed my love for reading, especially murder mysteries. I had focused so much on business books, on being productive, that I almost forgot how joyful it can be to read a good crime novel and just enjoy it without feeling the need to be productive.
I hope you could take away one or two life lessons for yourself. Did you ever have a similar experience of being sick and unable to work? I’d love to hear from you! You can follow, connect and share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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