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4 Signs It’s Time to Abandon Your Career After Cancer

Consider exploring your work life after cancer to shift toward more fulfillment and flexibility prior to returning to work

4 Signs It's Time to Abandon Your Career After Cancer
Photo by Marcus Aurelius

When I was working in corporate, I flew all around the world, I worked crazy hours, I was constantly under a lot of pressure. 

I also got bronchitis every autumn for 7 years in a row.

Here’s how it would go down: I would get a cough. I wouldn’t sleep well. I’d start feeling ill and tired. 

I’d keep working. For a few more weeks.

Then it would get bad enough that I took a few “sick” days. 

These were not restful, healing sick days. These were still-on-conference-calls, working-from-bed, answering-emails-in-my-pajamas days.

Then there was the time that I “commuted” overseas to Dusseldorf, Germany – for four months. I traveled there from Washington D.C. every other week for four months. 

When I started my life coach certification course, I realized: my relationship with work is not normal

Other people don’t push themselves at work to the point where they’re completely empty. Other people don’t put every single ounce of energy they have toward work.

It was then I knew I needed to change. I had already decided to transition (slowly) away from corporate and into becoming a full-time life coach when I got cancer.

What about you? 

Is your corporate role conducive to your healing and staying healed?

Here are 4 indicators it may be time to explore other career options:

1. Chronic exhaustion. When you were working, you were chronically exhausted. You didn’t sleep much, didn’t take vacation time (or worked through vacation). Chronic exhaustion is a sign that something needs to change. I’m here to tell you: not every job causes chronic exhaustion. You don’t have to quit corporate and become a life coach – but you may need a very real change.

2. Working sick. When you were working, you didn’t take sick time when you were sick. If you refused to take actual days off when you had the flu or bronchitis, going back to this role after cancer treatment is probably not a good idea. You need to either change your mindset toward work, or change your work.

3. Work addiction. You were so preoccupied with work that you didn’t have the headspace or energy for other things. You thought about work, dreamed about work (or had nightmares), slept with your phone under your pillow, and were otherwise addicted to work. This is not healthy. It’s essential that you carve out space and time for relationships and other pursuits that bring you joy.

4. Numbing your life. You were going through the motions of your life without finding meaning in your work or experiencing positive emotions. It’s easy to numb yourself with busyness – especially with work. 

Healing from cancer gives you the opportunity to heal past patterns that weren’t serving you. 

If any one of these four indicators rang true for you, it might be time to explore other career options – or change your approach to work.

I work with corporate women like you to transition from cancer treatment back into the professional world – without slipping back into old habits.

Please know that you can create a new approach to work and life that brings meaning, joy and healing. It is possible. No more commuting to Germany. Are you with me? Let’s talk.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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