You can overcome disability to achieve your career goals

By Joanna Penn

It is a warm day here in Lowestoft and I am enjoying the sunshine. I feel that summer is coming round the corner and that makes me feel great. As I sit here, I think about how far I have come as an entrepreneur in the five months I have been established and this makes me think about the changes that are happening over the next few months.

I had the idea of self-employment last Spring after several failed job interviews. Don’t get me wrong, they were good practice but I was beginning to feel a little frustrated due to unproven disability discrimination. Even the big organisations are unwilling to recruit an independent, visually impaired person. I was having a challenging time during this period, my guide dog was ill, my partner had moved in which led to problems with universal credit and my sister’s partner was having health issues. I felt that these things were encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone. This was something that I knew I had to act on.

Speaking to friends and family focused my energy into looking at self-employment, though I was unsure what form this work would take exactly. I am a competent administrator with various customer service skills; I’m a musician; I love working with people and I have experience of working in challenging environments. I considered various options like being a virtual assistant or starting a personal assistant service, mental health work or counselling but all of these paths would cost money and during this time I didn’t have the mindset to take this on. I was stuck and I never liked being stuck.

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Joanna Penn

Fast forward to last July, after my guide dog had to retire and the stress before a major operation that was thankfully cancelled at the last minute as it was decided to be unnecessary.  I bit the bullet and looked into something that had been mentioned a few years back – life coaching. A friend who was a coach told me that I would be great at coaching as I love helping others find themselves and that I see the best in most people. I began looking at the options and I was shocked at the costs. Also, I wasn’t sure if my disability would affect my work but I contacted a few companies and found somewhere that did a two-day taster.

I booked myself in and began researching coaching courses that would accommodate my needs. After I completed the taster, I was enthused and excited. I spoke to my partner about finances and we agreed that it would be fine and I had support from my family. However, the course the provider suggested was expensive and that wasn’t the only cost; I would have to travel to and from the venue and pay for accommodation. I remember feeling deflated – I felt that I wasted my year and began to feel a sense of doubt.

But I also felt determined, I decided to go it alone and try and get clients without qualifications. I asked my niece to help me with web design. I had an idea initially I wanted to help people with mental health issues who were still in education, but after receiving some coaching myself I realised I wasn’t valuing myself; I was charging too little for my work and I had no idea about my client avatar. During this time I was getting cold leads and I started to feel a little lost, something needed to change.

After reading a post on a networking group, I heard of an ex-GP who was a master of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) called Dr Bridget and I spoke to her about her courses. She was attentive to my needs and explained everything. I felt very comfortable with her and I knew what I had to do. I made a decision, I was going to be an NLP and Hypnosis Practitioner. This would meet my need for a profession working with people; to help them reach their dreams.

I am currently studying and by May 2019 I will be qualified as an NLP Coach incorporating Time Line Therapy © and Hypnosis. I am moving forward with the work on my business and I love the fact I am cutting away some of the red tape that has held me back in the past. I work with young creatives who need to find their symphony in life to move forward in their own art and I take on individuals who are looking to find the answers to enable them to find their way through the cacophony of this world.

Find out more by visiting my Prelude Metamorphosis website or emailing me at preludemeta@gmail.com

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