Entrepreneurship, freelancing, and remote work is offering chronic illness and disability sufferers more opportunities than ever.
As the founder of Sick Biz, I have fought crushing fatigue and worked when all my strength couldn’t force my body to sit up.
I was coerced into business ownership when transverse myelitis took me down in 2014.
I’ve shown up for clients when everyone, including my doctors, told me to take a day off, rest, and stop pushing so hard.
But the reality is I can’t, and neither can the millions of other people with chronic illnesses.
Chronic illnesses and disabilities are on the rise…
- 6 in 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease
- 4 in 10 adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases
- 1 in 4 adults has a disability
And if you have to pay bills, you have to work.
The good news is entrepreneurship, freelancing, and remote work are offering chronic illness and disability sufferers more opportunities than ever to do what they love, be financially independent and make a difference.
When you have a chronic illness or disability, you have to be conscious of what your body and emotions are doing at all times in order to simply stay the course.
For example, many autoimmune diseases respond to stress–even great stress. Try crushing your goals and then fighting not to get too excited so you don’t flare!
But there’s something special about people with chronic illnesses taking control of their destinies and building their own businesses.
While most people are grateful for a Netflix and chill day, this community craves work over rest.
- Focusing on a project or task is distracting to pain and helps to alleviate intensity.
- Ill and disabled entrepreneurs achieve goals efficiently because their health depends on it.
- This segment of the population works hard to prove themselves to their clients and peers. You will get quality work.
These five entrepren-hers refuse to allow any so-called challenge to block their path.
Use their stories to inspire you to move mountains in your business.
Wendi Lindenmuth – After three rounds of meningitis, chronic Lyme, MRSA, and other life-altering conditions that left her bedridden for a year, Wendi had had enough.
She dove into alternative treatments, finding relief in energy healing. It worked so well that she received her national energy healer certification to help other chronic pain and illness sufferers.
Wendi encourages entrepreneurs to remain flexible about re-prioritizing their to-dos to deliver high-quality service to their clients while meeting their health needs.
Wendi’s message is simple– “There is life after you get sick.”
Megan Stewart – Since the age of 12, Megan has tried “78 forms of birth control,” but none of them stopped the pain from extreme endometriosis that would render her unconscious.
Megan’s health forced her to transition from journalist to content creator and blogger. “I had to take my skills and think what could I do if I couldn’t get out of bed three days a week?”
One of the tactics that helps Megan slay in her business and deliver exceptional content to her clients is a To-Do list with 20-30 items, and the dedication to knocking out 3-4 things per day.
Samantha Bennett– “It was a huge relief when I finally got diagnosed with lifelong depression.” Samantha is in the world and, by all appearances, functioning normally. But no one sees the internal struggle. The world notes her successful business, two published books, a musical that’s taking off, and the stages around the country she’s speaking on and draws the conclusion that Samantha’s inner life must be as sparkly as her accomplishments.
Self-monitoring with chronic illness is imperative, as is self-compassion. “You have to be super strategic when you don’t have unlimited amounts of energy. You have to make sure you’re spending your quality time on the stuff that will move the needle. You can build a business in 15 minutes a day; you can write a novel in 15 minutes a day.”
But how do you practice self-compassion when you know your brain is lying to you? It takes commitment to remember your brain will lie to you, but if you can do that, you can build evidence for more supportive thoughts. Samantha suggests, “Start with the premise that what you think is not true.”
Jamie Thurber – “Have a blueprint and don’t walk into your day.” After years of debilitating, unpredictable illness and scant advice from doctors, Jamie learned how she feels every day is just as important as what she does in her business.
Jamie knew if she was going to be a success that she had to take her self-care seriously. She advises entrepreneurs who are struggling with chronic illness, chronic pain, fatigue, or lower energy levels to “get clear on what you need to do, and implement tasks with a timer, so you can come back from the rabbit hole and not lose hours of time.” As a bonus: you will learn how long a task really takes.
Erika Ashley – Diagnosed with JV rheumatoid arthritis at 18 months old, Erika was supposed to be in a wheelchair by the time she was a teenager. In October 2015, Erika was put on the waitlist for hip replacement, and found herself bedridden without a job due to excruciating pain.
“I had bills and expenses to pay, so I needed to figure out how to make it work,” she says in creating her business. “It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me.”
She doesn’t have to deal with fixed deadlines the way she used to, and now her schedule accommodates her treatment instead of the other way around.
An observation she practices: Making sure that you treat your business with the same respect as your job.
As the gig economy strengthens, there has never been a better time to launch your business, and if you’re dealing with chronic illness, pain, or disability, there’s never been a better time to find success and make a difference with your genius.
This post originally appeared on Thrive Global.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Words escape me lately when I think about what is valuable to share.
All I know is sometimes the most traumatic breaks we experience are exactly what we need to WAKE UP.
I was reflecting yesterday, wondering what my life would be like if I wasn’t sick. And I started envisioning everything I would be doing that I am doing now–but more. Then the record skipped and I realized that was a lie.
I would still be working for someone else, reporting for work in my cubicle and writing someone else’s marketing and ad copy. I damn sure wouldn’t have edited nearly 60 books.
I was too stubborn and scared to move on my own and it took fracturing my life into pieces before I could examine it as deeply as I needed to.
Yes, I was physically sick. But emotionally I was worse. Tied into codependent, toxic relationships. Committing in word but not heart. Never trusting although I was quick to say I did. Parenting terrified. I was my worst critic and would rip myself to shreds all in the name of being better and finally mattering.
I HAD to break and I thank God every day I did. When I got sick, I lied to myself about what I could do. That’s when I learned – after starting to pull the carpet off the stairs – that what I began had to be finished by my husband. Did I want that kind of relationship where I forced him into my messy reality because I couldn’t accept my limitations? Absolutely not. That was a hard reset of taking into my heart this new me. But I had to learn to be okay and to love me for me…not for what I could or couldn’t do.
When I couldn’t fly to Dallas and was plunged into the longest flare I’d had since I’d gotten sick, I finally learned that I can’t hustle the way other people do. I need help and that’s okay. Since that break in my health and consciousness, firm boundaries have been set as far as what I will and will not do. I can’t run my business without help anymore…just like we can’t do anything without help really. Just like no one is really self-made.
These breaks are amazing mirrors of what has been done and what to do differently. I refuse to waste the pain experienced.
My point today is that I am going deeper. My head is happier, my heart is open. What brings me joy goes layers further. I have started scheduling my SM time and enjoying dinner with my family again. I am enjoying life less through a screen. I am letting my passions carry me away and bringing greater meaning to what I am doing.
Many people get all pissed off when they break, even imagining they might be immune to such a thing, to the pain of life. But none of us are. Life-shifting pain is coming for all of us, but we get to control the level of misery. We get to try and make peace with it instead of fighting it to be the person we wanted to be…but if we are being honest, we more than likely weren’t.
Life-shifting pain is coming for all of us, but we get to control the level of misery.
Abundance…there is enough for us all.
Faith…free falling restores the sensation of control.
Trust…you cannot learn to trust without trusting.
Acceptance…your value is in YOU. Not what you do.
How will you come down the other side of the mountain tomorrow?
xoxoxo Be well.
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I spent many years feeling alone while in the company of so many. Family, friends, partners. The only people I trusted were my kids, who truly taught me the first definition of unconditional love. I had become used to so much drama that when life was good, I was addicted to the ripple in the water. I couldn’t just enjoy my life. I had to always solve problems. When things were going well at work, I had to stir up trouble. When my relationships hit a smooth patch, I needed to conjure turmoil because I knew how to survive and I was the most comfortable in that mode.
Where to live? I’ll figure it out.
How to get by without a phone or electricity? I’m a tough mofo and can do it.
Teased mercilessly by people who claimed to be my friends? Excluded parties? I had my writing. I had my make-believe world and the pebble belief inside I was stronger than any social acceptance.
Told I was bad at math and a terrible mother who should move away from my children. I stayed every day, fought for my kids, parented (sometimes terrified) and never stopped fighting and loved my kids.
Drowning in debt? Bankrupt? I knew how to work, endure and climb.
It doesn’t matter where you came from. What matters is…YOU MATTER.
It doesn’t matter what circumstances you are facing, you can start again. You can take one small step to improve your situation every single day.
You can come back from anything.
You can build to astonishing levels if you simply never stop.
You can become an expert at shutting out what doesn’t serve you…including people.
And when you panic because you are making a change…well, that is when you hold on. And it is all you need to do. Do nothing. Sit there and feel the change and do nothing.
Resist the urge to panic and screw it all up because chaos is familiarity. You don’t need to destroy everything you make because you have deemed your life to be a problem to solve.
It’s not and living this way is exhausting.
When you see a person addicted to drama, take a moment to not judge but to imagine why anyone would choose to live with such tumult. Then take another moment and send them a ray of love to destroy their destructive compulsion.
And when someone in earnest is changing or trying to, stand with them; root for them; be a source of continual motivation and let them know you BELIEVE they can change. That is your only job. It is not to jokingly remind them (not funny) of how they have failed. It is not to affect a passive-aggressive “support” of this new idea, to laugh at them, or make light of the fact they see an area of improvement and care to change it about themselves, to better themselves.
People think they know you, don’t they? “I know you better than you know yourself,” they might say. Implying that you will always be the person they see through the lens they have held up to their eye. But you know what? Even if they do this, if they think it is their job to remind you of who you have been, you keep going.
Some days, you might be the only one who believes in you. That you can do it. And you can. When that voice is dim and drowned out by the doubters and the people who claim they are experts in you, magnify it in your life. Dull the din in the background and focus on the hunger that won’t go away, the urge to help and heal and support and love and cheer that never leaves.
You know it is in you and it is never okay for anyone else to limit you. But you know what? It’s not okay to limit yourself either.
That’s not serving your purpose. That’s not your contribution the chain of giving where you find your mission and calling.
If you need belief today, borrow mine.
Then turn it into your new voice, the one that can lead you to an unrecognizable life, a life you have long dreamed about.
Believing in ourselves is unfathomably powerful. When you tap into your true potential, it just keeps going. It’s the oddest event…like discovering a dammed ; you simply need to clear the debris to let it run freely.
Never stop believing that you can conquer and be the person you dream of so often.
Yesterday, I spoke to potential first-time book authors who are deviating from their careers and writing on fresh passions gripping their heart. The tiny whispers of calling that never relent. They are capitalizing on the nudge to do more and provide help and reassurance and healing where they see a need.
That is leveraging YOU to leave a permanent mark.
It’s a beautiful phenomenon to hold faith in yourself.
To get your own back.
It just takes one small step every day to lead you to new, uncharted terrain.
This is where YOU begin. I love you. As I told my kids when they graduated, “Go get your life!”
Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash
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Self-published books are springing up all over the place. If you are an entrepreneur, having a book under your belt can boost your income exponentially. Books are to business in the millennium what business cards were to professionals 20 years ago.
In 2015, 727,000 self-published ISBN numbers were registered, meaning you run the risk of fading into the statistics unless your book is a clear masterpiece. Authoring a book reinforces your brand and position as an expert in your field. It is another element of publicity, a piece of your marketing collateral you can leverage to gain followers, readers and clients.
Books open up pipelines and partnerships and are another passive income source. But, if you do it wrong, without the guidance of experts, without impressive execution, you can wind up doing more harm than good.
I’ve assembled a list of tips to use whether you self-publish or use a publisher. One of the recommendations is to contract professional services where necessary. Tom Morkes, founder of Insurgent Publishing asserts, “Even if you are self-publishing, it’s worth your time and money to use a good editor. Books that have an editor read better.”
Follow these 10 tips to create a book that is a source of pride and opportunity.
Using a transcription service like Rev allows you to complete your rough draft in a flash. But, transcribing only begins the process of writing down the bones — thanks, Natalie Goldberg. You may speak effectively about events in your life — a fine, yet incomplete first step — but your book will be far more engaging when you add dialogue, internal thoughts and set the scenes.
Related: 5 Things This Self-Published Author Did to Sell Over 20,000 Books With Almost No Money
2. Use an editor
Once your transcription is complete, find a content and line editor, because no transcription service will accurately translate proper punctuation, illegible recordings, or possess the capability to flesh out your story.
3. Follow industry formatting
Don’t forget to include the essentials: Introduction, Foreword (written by an industry influencer), Acknowledgments, a copyright page with your ISBN number and a disclaimer, which prohibits others from repurposing, reusing, or reprinting your content. Make sure your book length fits within your category expectation. A reader will be intimidated by a tome. But, an easy-to-digest book containing comprehensive chunks of valuable information will FLY off the (virtual) shelf.
4. Never skimp on a cover
Set aside a budget between $500 and $1,500 for your cover. Your designer should present two to three designs that you will narrow down until the final iteration. People do judge a book by its cover — which influences your sales.
5. Format your ebook
Nothing is worse than a compelling paperback cover accompanied by a subpar eBook improperly formatted. Your spacing needs to be correct, the margins and gutter on-point. If you are self-publishing, you simply can’t skip this step. Readers are most attracted to eBooks due to their lower prices and immediate availability.
6. Research your self-publishing company thoroughly
You need to understand every step of the process and the order in which they are taken to confirm a knowledgeable team is at your disposable. Understanding = Agreement of the System.
7. Proof your book with an eagle eye
Ensure you take part in the proofing process as much as your editor does. My editors and authors share books back and forth until the edits are done, and then both editor and author proof the final version.
8. Remember your book hook
The book hook is written as close to the first sentence of the book as possible and explains why are you writing the book. It’s crafted to snare the reader. Non-fiction writers, consider your positioning. Are you a rags-to-riches story, a hardscrabble triumph? Are you an innovator? What is the number-one reason you wrote the book?
9. Remember chapter hooks
At the end of every chapter, keep your reader hanging on. It is a twist, an anticipation the reader can’t wait to dive into. Chapter hooks allude to coming trouble, wins, joy, surprise, devastation, or solutions. Hint at imminent events to create intrigue.
10. Read your book aloud.
Odds are, you will record your book for Audible or another audio platform. If you aren’t hiring a reader (which can be expensive), you can practice getting the words out. Reading aloud fine-tunes cadence and readability, so you’ll feel more confident in your final delivery.
When you follow these steps, your readers won’t have a clue whether you used a publisher or not to fulfill your creative aspirations. All they’ll know is your presentation is polished — and that you deserve the sale.
Original article appeared at Entrepreneur.
TODAY is a big one! So, naturally, I stayed up late and read A Child Called It. I devoured it because it was a triumph of the human spirit. I guess I am addicted to that sort of missive.
Maybe it is why I surround myself with the people who believe they can do anything.
With people who know that they are no different from anyone else, who know the rules are the same for them or the Queen of England. This is the key, isn’t it? When we acknowledge there is no difference in what we can achieve, then our reality and our potential changes exponentially.
The Winning Mindset. Ryan Stewman talks about this a lot. He has discovered it and applied it to his own life. He is an example of the kind of person whose company I crave. The entire Tribe of people that his mastermind contains are all ball busters and they ALL, every last one, follow through with what they say they are going to do.
I don’t encounter one negative mind in this group. No, it is steeped in the power of collaboration, compounding growth and brilliance and when you are in such company your own life and potential positively EXPLODE. You NEVER cave to the baser and toxic disbeliefs that you CAN’T. It’s simply not a word and the proof of what you can construct in synergy will blow your mind.
Ryan Stewman will be on the Sick Biz Buzz podcast today.
Because he is a person who sees all people as having the same capabilities. He works with people who are chronically ill (and let’s face it, don’t we all have something?!) but he will never treat you like it. He is the epitome of a person who does not see an illness or disability, but who values a person based on their work. He was selected because he can teach people, employers, leaders, his special vision. He doesn’t see differences. He sees potential in every single person willing to work for it. THIS is why I am up early and preparing to have a memorable and moving conversation with him. It is no surprise he wants to grab that sledgehammer and smash the stigma surrounding invisible diseases and disabilities because he smashes the stigmas on so many subjects people are terrified to talk about.
I am also appearing on Satori Prime today and am so excited to talk more about Sick Biz’s exciting developments as we grow as a nonprofit and continue to spread awareness of what we can do to help chronically ill and disabled entrepreneurs. These are big weeks coming up. Tomorrow is my cover shoot for the book. My publisher and I are weeding through cover mocks and I need to do what I advise all my clients to do: Keep Writing.
Reach for the content, the books, the people that move you, that shove you from one reality into the next. Shed your self-doubts and defenses at working with others and tightly embrace your gifts. They are yours and they are unique. What will you bring to the world that is your purpose? What are you living out each day, an ascension into clearer light and bliss, or are you anchoring yourself with self-recriminations?
Do not feel threatened by the brilliance of others, but help them to shine brighter as you polish your own star.
Maybe you need to change your circle to people who will lift you every day.
I know the decision to align with unstoppable people has forever altered my life. I will never be the same. I don’t want to be. I don’t know that old, sick, fearful woman cringing at memories, judgment, and pain, who sought approval from outside forces every day. I only know this new force who can do anything because I say I can. Because the source of my belief resides inside me. It can’t be touched and I am in control of it.
Change your circle. Change your life.
Sick Biz Buzz’s episodes will be available to soak up soon. After today, we will have four shows in the bag. Then one a week following that.
Plenty more coming down the pike, right Erin Schultz, media miracle worker? Get up and get after it.
Your hyperfocus will propel you…farther than you ever imagined.
I don’t gamble…and there was a time when I wouldn’t allow myself to even step foot in a casino. Once, when I was in my 20’s I went to the casino and I lost $600. In retrospect, $600 is and is not a lot of money. Veteran gamblers have certainly won and lost more, but it is not the money that scared me. I changed when I gambled, morphing into this person who justified the money I pulled out of the ATM because I knew I would win it all back and then some. The prospect of any other scenario was sickening. I couldn’t have possibly lost that much. If I’d had the deed to my house with me, I would have kept going. I could feel the hunger creeping to conquer me, this bargaining pleading I normalized in my head and on my lips. Luckily, the person I was with, hauled me out and broke the spell.
Alcohol is not a huge draw to me, mostly because my grandfather and all his brothers were alcoholics. I worry the gene is buried inside and that I would awaken it after so many sips. And man, did I love cigarettes when I smoked. Never before was there a stinkier chainsmoker. Back in the days when you could light up at your desk, I sat with a butt jumping up and down in my mouth as a jabbered on the phone and added up vending checks. What a lovely image that conjures.
Many times, I have fixated on people, food, habits and releases that were not good for me. I have craved the high of more of whatever it was I needed. It was a long-winded quest to gain something…and now, I’m pretty tame. I drink coffee (that I will never give up!), stubbed out the butts and I stay the hell away from the casino.
My personality has latched onto a different target. Business.
Deep inside me, a passion lives and lurks every day. It is a good and taxing force, although most days it astounds me, the levels we will go together. My insistent roommate wakes me, fills me up, drives me on and compels me to reach, network, resolve and BELIEVE in myself. The further into the belly of the beast I descend, the more I realize what I am capable of accomplishing.
Isn’t that the way it goes?
You think, what the hell? Then give the new venture a shot. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll fail and then it’s back to my regular life? Not such a bad prospect.
But you don’t fail and when that happens a part of you flies free. You tap into the fact you’ve succeeded. This success causes you to think about taking a stab at the next new aim, until it becomes a dizzying game of King of the Mountain, between you and a mountain of goals.
The knowledge of what you are capable of creating is still staggering, but somehow more believable this go-round, and this is the invisible shove that keeps you going.
Your goals, now loftier seem as possible to reach as that very first one you ever identified and went after. The fascination at your own power is dazzling and you talk about it with people (who are a little sick of how surprised you are at your own gratitude and joy.) You begin to realize you are no different than the people you admire, than any person at all. The rules of what you can accomplish are the same for you, whether you’re pitted against Tony Robbins or Gladys down the street.
This equalization levels the mental game field. When there is nothing holding you back or negatively defining you, simply, you will keep going. It is one less obstacle in your own head.
I don’t write about flipping addiction on its head to make light of the very real epidemic we face. But to say, if you have these tendencies, if you glom onto objects, or chemicals, or even just like that evening beer a little too much, then you can pop that switch to your advantage. You can lower yourself into the sea of possibility and compulsion and learn about living limitless, too.
Too many times, we identify compulsory characteristics as traits that must be controlled or they will cause ruin, as a negative ache that leads to no good and is destructive, but what if the opposite is also true?
Instead of honing an unhealthy fascination, what if you could turn your appetite toward your own success?
Toward learning, not what do I need to make to survive the month, but how much can I make? What are MY personal limits? How far can I go? This is an addiction you can give yourself over to completely.
Can you start your own company? Of course, you can.
Can you close a high percentage of deals? Absolutely.
Can you help other people with the work you plainly don’t have time for? One-hundred percent.
What else can you do?
Leverage media exposure? Yep.
Write a book about your experiences containing an angle unique to you? No reason why not.
Work in your purpose, whether it’s creating a nonprofit, identifying a niche in the market, establishing a mentorship? All the yeses.
The key is that you can do anything. And you get that from your first, what the hell moment.
The next time a whim strikes. Whatever it is…go for it!
I don’t care what it is, just do it.
You will learn that you can do anything. And then…this is the first building block of your fire that you certainly can feed into an inferno.
That first slam dunk is followed by wondering what else you can do. Slam another one in, then another. The fire is starting to roar a little, isn’t it? Use it as momentum, as proof of what you can do.
THIS is how we get there…whenever our journey takes us. We achieve and then BELIEVE.
The discernible difference between a person who is perceived as an expert in their field and a proven expert comes down to one simple fact. The expert performs. Time and time again. The expert takes action no matter the size or noise of the crowd. They do it for the ceaseless pull to outwit themselves at every turn. It is a game of chicken they use to challenge their boundaries.
This hyperfocus will propel you if you let it. It will replace the sexiest, swankiest siren song out there with the intoxicating instances of your success. You will devour it as if you have been denied sustenance for a thousand years.
Here’s a little disclaimer. You may get carried away. Sometimes, that is alright. It is the missing component of what is needed, what has been needed. But as with any sword, respect the edge. In the moment, when you are floating on accomplishments, it will be harder to identify when you must set limits. So, write some rules for yourself to ensure your family and friends don’t wind up a casualty of your fire.
A few of my rules are:
1) No cell phones during dinner
2) No calls or work during dinner
3) A severe reduction of work on the weekends when my family is home.
I also had to stop working in bed at night. It was selfish and encroached upon the goals of my marriage. In short, family and relationships come first. You will want to safeguard your priorities, but when it is play time in the winner’s circle, get ready to go all in. Get ready to astound yourself with how much you can win just through the indelible truth that you can hit every goal, then develop more and hit those, too… You can even become obsessed to a degree and put your mindset to work for you so your to-dos are less of a chore and more of a game.
Every game you have ever played contains rules that alert you to the inevitably of winning. Entrepreneurship is no different. Apply your tendencies to fixate on the unsavory to get ahead. Unleash your compulsions in an entirely different and healthy manner and witness the effect on your life.
Original article appeared at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission.
Photo credit: Getty Images