Until I got a promotion I didn’t really care who knew I had RA. Now that I’m a big shot, relatively speaking, people are looking more closely at me and my limitations, especially travel, stamina for late night meetings and events etc. I usually spend an hour at least at the gym every night stretching, light aerobics, massage, but I’ve had to give that up because of my work schedule. This makes my RA worse, of course. Also, I need time in the morning to get ready for the world, but with early morning meetings when we’re traveling I don’t have the luxury of it anymore. I showed up for breakfast pretty stiff one morning and people looked disapprovingly at me, like there was something wrong and I couldn’t do the work required of my new position. There was not a lot of compassion in the air. Any suggestions?

Too much attention.

Dear Too Much Attention,

Attention is not always a bad thing.  Someone or multiple people had to pay attention to you and your work, which is what most likely led to their decision to promote you to big shot status in the first place!  Sometimes though, too many eyes on you can be intimidating or disheartening, but there are multiple reasons why they could be watching you.  It could just be that you are new among their ranks and they are seeing how you measure up, just like anyone else.  After all, you are in an office environment, where your promotion could be viewed as a threat to your colleagues’ own position.  The reason you are receiving all this attention could be any number of things, but any way you slice it, what matters is what you do about it. 

Never let your RA get in the way of living your life, even in a work situation!

One common pitfall is to let your traveling and early morning meetings get in the way of staying healthy.  If you do this, as you eluded, your RA will only get worse.  I know it can be a very frustrating task to keep your gym schedule when you are traveling and your work schedule is volatile.  What you might consider is to do a little research before you leave on your trips to see if the hotel has an in-house gym, which most business-level hotels tend to have.  If not, you might research where the closest gym to your hotel is located.  If you are running low on time you can circulate through your regular workout schedule and split them up, doing them when you can.  If you have some space in your suitcase or carry-on, you could pack some small weights or those elastic bands that give resistance.  Otherwise, you might even consider looking into some stretches you can do in your hotel room before you go to sleep or straight away, after you wake up. 

Keeping yourself healthy will maintain your confidence so that your colleagues can see that you are not limited or unable to do the work at hand.  If you learn to be creative juggling your new job promotion with your healthy routines, your co-workers might even be impressed to walk into the board room during a lunch break and catch you doing push-ups on the conference table!  If they do, then bully for them!


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