Everyone would like to return to a higher level of functioning and feel as though they are contributing to society. Some people more then others, but I doubt most people want to just sit and waste away! Here are some things to consider before returning to work after TBI, chronic illness, mental illness or any other circumstances you’ve endured and are considering a return-to-work status.
The following are recommendations that are helpful to accomplish your new goals. Some suggestions can be used as short-term goals, and others as your long-term goal. These tips will help you work toward and achieve what you set out to accomplish.
Before you get to the phase of even filling out applications and going through interviews think long and hard about who you are, what you want to do, what you can do, how you will handle different situations, and your ultimate short term and long term goals for employment. Know all your limitations and work around what you know you need to deal with and how you will best deal with your limitations.
Commit to Writing & Make a list of each of the following:
- Who you are
- What you want to do
- What you can do
- How to handle difficult situations
- Short-term and Long-term life goals
- Read, Internalize and Believe (RIB)
Take mental and written notes. Start by making a list of all your limitations. Another list of all your strengths. Focus on your strengths! The list of your strengths should equal approximately 5 strengths for every limitation. If you don’t come up with this, take your time and think about it. You will find at least that many strengths. The more strengths the better.
On your list of limitations write five strengths that help you overcome that particular limitation. You will be trying to offset any shortcomings you have. Everyone has a balance, but you just need better insight into how you can find your balance. Matching a limitation with your strengths will help you understand where you are in your life and how you can accomplish your goals. You will say I am limited by this, but I can still do this because I am….this!
Limitation: 1.) Cannot return to patient care as registered nurse
Strengths: 1.) Maintained my nursing licensed. 2.) Excellent typist. 3.) Secretarial experience. 4.) Thinks clearly with decreased stimuli environment. 5.) Knowledgeable in diverse areas of healthcare. 6.) Rehabilitation experience. 7.) Compassionate and genuine caring person.
Short Term Goals (STG): Begin website to help others. Learn WordPress. Become familiar with what helps to manipulate the website. Get help from the Apple Store weekly with questions I note to learn the computer weekly one-to-one sessions.
Long Term Goal (LTG): Offer a free healthcare service by an effective website to help others self rehabilitate from TBI, chronic illness, mental illness, aging population and other areas of interest to help others manage their healthcare needs plus more!
Summary: I cannot do hands on patient care as a nurse, but I am still a good nurse. I’ve been a secretary for 3 years, worked with computers for 13 years before nursing and I remain a good typist. These experiences combined with my nursing can help me accomplish my long term goal. I can think clearly in a quiet environment without distractions for short periods of time. I can write at intervals conducive to my limitations and situation. I can still help people in many ways.
List the following:
- Match at least five Strengths with every Limitation
- Read, Internalize and Believe (RIB)
Read these repeatedly. Memorize and internalize! You need to believe that you can succeed by matching your limitations with strengths. When you do believe it, your employer will give you an opportunity to prove it. Next step would be to organize everything and write down all your questions. Think through every scenario possible so you are not only prepared to answer spontaneously at your interview but you will recall how to react in certain situations. Memory, memory, memory…work on it before you go to interviews. BE PREPARED! There is significant preparation returning to work after a lengthy illness or injury.
Before filling out applications and interviewing do your self-reflection and create a blueprint of the “new you”. You have a great deal of homework before re-entering the work-force. You will be the one under the microscope and you want success…not a disaster. It will take time and effort, but you will endure and become successful. This time success will mean much more then it ever did before. You realize how fragile life is and you have learned by your experiences giving you strengths others may not have. Don’t focus on your weaknesses….focus on your strengths! Be real and true to yourself.
How do you know when you are ready to return to work
- Can you stay focused without breaks, rest or naps?
- How are you with time management?
- Can you complete tasks at home without losing your place?
- Can you become distracted and return to the task at hand without help?
- Do you need frequent rest and naps, or can you without rest?
- Do you need help with following through with simple tasks?
- Do you need constant redirection?
- Can you work independently?
- Do you feel you can ask questions or know what questions to ask?
If you have answered these questions and realize you are not quite ready to go back to work, keep setting yourself positive goals. List your short term goals. It will take time, and you will find ways to achieve your long term goals. In the meantime, see if there is somewhere you can volunteer in your community for a couple hours a week.
I repeatedly asked my healthcare professionals about returning to work and this is the reply I received: “If you can find a position that let’s you take a break whenever you need it you can return to work.” “As long as it’s a position flat on your back.” I don’t think there are any respectable employment opportunities flat on your back! “Find a place that will let you come and go as you please.” “If you can work in warm water aquatics and stay in the water while doing your job you might be able to work.” Now, what types of comments are these. None of these comments are helpful, but I guess it still gets the point across. Do not look to your healthcare professional for the answers. Only you have the answers. You know yourself better then anyone else.
The next post will give ideas on planning, organizing and practicing (POP). Preparing for the interview. Being true to yourself and what to do and what not to reveal in your place of employment.
- Returning to the work force! (jyhedgehog.wordpress.com)
- Back to work: 5 tips for parents returning to work (thestar.com)
- Patrick Schmitt: How he’s using his new found strength to reach out to others (healinghappenshere.wordpress.com)