The research says that 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes and about 1.4 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year according to Health Line. More than one in every 10 adults who are 20 years or older has diabetes. It's a disease that has and will affect a lot of entrepreneurs. The decisions and actions you take after being diagnosed — especially a little later in life — can help or hurt your business.
I'm a consultant who travels to 30 countries a year to train companies on digital marketing. Earlier this year, I was on a six-country consulting tour in Europe. While there, I started to experience different health issues. It started small with some blurry vision here and there and grew to multiple symptoms. When I got back to the United States, it got worse fast. I was taken to the hospital with shortness of breath, unable to eat (I had lost 35 pounds in two weeks) and losing my vision. The diagnosis was Type-2 diabetes.
I was put on insulin and got better the week I was in the hospital. I was educated as to what life with diabetes willbe like. Because my A1c (my blood sugar level for three months) was out of control, I was pre-subscribed insulin. I had to take five shots a day. At first, I felt like giving up. I travel for a living and this diagnosis meant traveling with insulin, needles and testing equipment. It meant having to think about where I could get my prescriptions filled in another country. It meant that I had to watch everything I ate and give up a lot of foods that I enjoy. It meant a complete lifestyle shift.
Today, life and business are fabulous. What started as a diagnosis that made me want to give up turned out to be just what I needed to make major changes for the better in my life and business. Here are three ways being diagnosed with diabetes affected my business.
1. It forced me to get serious about my health.
I've struggled with my weight most of my adult life. I've gained, lost and then gained it all back plus some. Type-2 diabetes can be reversed. A gentleman in New York did just that by changing his diet and exercise. Being diagnosed meant that I had to get control of my health once and for all if I want to live a long life. I cut out the junk food and got moving more. The result is I've lost 93 pounds and my doctor has cut my insulin dose from 146 units a day to 27 units a day on average (fast-acting insulin works on a sliding scale depending on blood sugar).
Exercise keeps my blood sugar in check and eating the right foods keeps it from going high. Getting control of my health has given me more energy for business-related tasks. I can see again, I feel stronger and I have more confidence. All of this has helped my business grow dramatically this year. This year, my business will generate more income than all of the other five years that I've owned a lifestyle business. Getting diagnosed with diabetes, and it leading to a focus on living a healthy lifestyle, has been unexpectedly positive.
Your health is the most valuable asset in your business. If you treat it well, you'll reap dividends. There's no point to working hard if you neglect your health. Without your health, you may not live long enough to enjoy what you've built.
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2. It made me think about goals and the bigger picture.
The doctors in the hospital explained to me I got close to falling into a coma because my blood sugar was was out of control. After I was stable, it got me thinking about my business goals and where this was all leading. It's easy to get so wrapped up in the thousand things that you have to accomplish and lose focus of the "why" behind a business. Every now and then, it's good, as an entrepreneur, to reconnect with your purpose and where you're business is moving you to.
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3. It brought more discipline into my life and business.
I have to take insulin shots at certain times of the day, and I need exercise and the right food to keep my diabetes in check. The strict schedule that my health depends on has helped me get discipline that I apply to other areas of my life and business.
I run a lifestyle business that gives me a lot of freedom and flexibility. It's easy in this kind of a business to keep things loose. That's good and bad. This diagnosis helped me see that it was time to get things under a schedule and plan. A little discipline and planning can help any business. It can help you stay focused on what will help your business right now, and that leads to growth.
Getting diagnosed with diabetes — or any other illness — will affect your business one way or another. You have to make a choice. You can get depressed and retreat or, you can use it as motivation to thrive despite your circumstances. Yes, there are some illnesses that are harder and more stressful than others, but if you still have a chance to live a regular life, take it. All anyone can do is the best they can with the situation they're dealt.
If you are diagnosed with a condition that you can do something about, make a change. Don't let it change you.