Striving to achieve your work-related goals
Just as experiences with multiple sclerosis (MS) vary from person to person, so do the working lives of people living with MS, with people employed across a wide range of industries, working a different volume of hours, and requiring different levels of support in the workplace. As a result, career goals are diverse and are likely to mean something different to others than they do to you.
No matter what work you do, you should be proud of your career achievements. We hope that this article will help you feel valued in your work, support your career confidence, and empower you to take the steps needed to achieve your ultimate goals.
Has MS affected how you work?
Some people living with MS are able to carry on working as normal following their diagnosis. However, others may find that they are forced to adapt their working life to the challenges that MS can bring – while many have to implement relatively minor changes to their work, such as the addition of small adaptations in the office, others may have to shift onto a part-time schedule, take on a brand new job in an entirely different industry, or eventually give up working altogether.
It’s important to remember that MS is a disease that changes over time. Even if you don’t have to make adjustments immediately, you may find that your needs at work change as your MS progresses and new symptoms arise. Don’t be disheartened if you later have to adapt your work or choose to prioritise your health over your career.
In a world where a lot of weight and purpose is placed on your career and the type of job you have, it can be hard if you are unable to work as you once did, or achieve the career goals that you once strived for. It’s understandable that coming to terms with this can be frustrating and take time. However, being forced to switch career or change the way that you work because of your MS isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It can offer you a chance to reset and think about the type of working life that would be best for you. You never know, it might provide you with new and incredible opportunities that you had never before considered or even thought possible!
Working life is different for everyone and shouldn’t be compared
Work can come in many different forms. And all are equally worthy. Some people with MS will have office jobs, while others are employed in more physical lines of work. Some work full-time, others part-time, and some may be in and out of formal employment.
The working mindset can also differ significantly between people in the workplace, whether MS is in the picture or not. Some people are very career-oriented and are driven to do what it takes for them to climb up the ranks. But not everyone. Others don’t necessarily prioritise career progression in their life and are quite happy to take each day of work as it comes, and this is ok too.
We also recognise that not everyone with MS is able to stay in employment, and this might have been made even harder by the current pandemic. But there is no shame in this. Just because you aren’t working, it doesn’t mean that you cannot lead a fulfilling life and work towards unique goals of your own. If you aren’t employed to work, but you’ve instead turned your hand to volunteering, studying something new, are focused on childcare or domestic duties, or are in the process of transforming a hobby into a job, these are still forms of work that you should be proud of.
Setting goals for your career
When people think of career goals, it’s often associated with progressing up the corporate ladder. And for some, this is the case. But career goals can be diverse and progression at work can mean very different things for different people.
What are your career goals? And what would achieving them mean to you? Your goals might be about striding forwards in your career, but they don’t have to be. While they could be about pushing yourself to the limit, focusing all your energy into your job and aiming for a promotion, another person’s goals might focus on making small improvements in their current role whilst maintaining a good work-life balance.
In a recent poll of the MS One to One community on Twitter, we asked ‘Whatever your goal may be, what mindset is most important in helping you to succeed at work?’ – and this was your response:
As you can see, everyone approaches their working life and goals with a different mindset. There is no ‘right’ way of doing things. The key to achieving your goals is finding a way that works well for you.
It’s no easy feat juggling MS and work. So whatever your goals, and no matter where you are on your journey to reaching them, you should be proud of the work you do and all that you have achieved to date. There is no right or wrong way to approach your career, so don’t compare yourself with the progress of others – whether they have MS or not.
Look ahead and think about what you would like to achieve in your future and start by setting some goals to help you get there.
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