While reading an email from one of my favorite YouTube bloggers, I was struck by the question he had been reflecting on to determine whether he would continue with the successful online business he'd created or call it quits.
It made me pause to think about what my own answer would be. As a physician who is now thriving in a second career, it seemed like a relevant question for all physicians to ask themselves, no matter what stage of career they're in.
When it comes to your career and the work you are currently doing, "are you doing it because you want to or because you feel like you have to?"
The road to becoming a physician is long and arduous and most don't enter the profession on a whim. There is a huge up front investment of time, money, and energy (physical, emotional and mental) not to mention the often negative impact on relationships with family and friends.
We often have an idea, well, really a dream, of what life will be like once we reach the light at the end of the tunnel. We believe with all our heart that the sacrifices will have been worth it. Unfortunately, expectations don't match reality.
With that said, the majority of physicians I've talked to say that they would do it all over again. I am also in that camp.
I have no regrets about the career choice that I made. I feel honored to have had the privilege to serve so many families; to advocate and care for numerous children and young adults: to encourage, teach and mentor generations of future doctors; and to support and advise more residents, fellows and colleagues than I can count.
In reflecting more on the question, I think one belief we have that doesn't serve us is that after we complete our training, we must find a job, "the right job", and stay there until retirement.
Many physicians are young adults when they embark upon their career journey. Life brings many changes from the point of entry into medicine until the time of retirement. Priorities, responsibilities, health and other circumstances morph throughout the various stages of life. Why then do we believe that the work that we do would not change as well?
For physicians, clinical practice continues to be the traditional path that the majority of physicians choose. However, there are multiple ways to serve and contribute to the health and well-being of the community. There are numerous opportunities to find career fulfillment in clinical and non-clinical positions. And don't forget that the two are not mutually exclusive. Prior to my retirement from clinical practice, I created a career that included non-clinical work that allowed me to speak, teach and coach. The skills I learned from the non-clinical work also helped me to improve upon my clinical work.
So if you're looking for ways to boost your sense of career fulfillment, consider the following suggestions:
As you think about your current position, as yourself the question. If your answer is you're doing it because you feel you have to, explore some of the suggestions above.
So, how would you answer the question? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you want to brainstorm additional ideas and strategies, reach out to me via email, Michelle@drmichellebailey.com.
Image credit: Depositphotos
"I'm so sorry to bother you...I know how busy you are."
If you're like most physicians and busy professionals, you may be hearing this phrase preface the request or invitation that is about to follow.
It's become common to wear busyness as a badge of honor. Taking on new responsibilities and tasks without letting go of current ones is not a sustainable practice, especially when you find yourself struggling to get in basic self care like eating nourishing meals, exercising consistently and getting enough sleep (quality and quantity).
The constant deluge of email, voicemail, professional and personal tasks quickly add up and become a recipe for busyness. It’s inevitable…at some point in the pursuit of your passions, goals and dreams, you’re going to get tired, frustrated and completely overwhelmed. And in some cases, you'll want to just throw your hands in the air (or curl up under the covers) and raise the white flag of surrender.
So what do you do when you find yourself in the land of overwhelm?
If you find yourself there, know that you are not alone. We all end up there from time to time. The key is recognizing when you’re there so you can take action to get out sooner rather than later.
Here are 3 simple strategies to help you regain your footing and see your way out.
1. Gain Clarity
2. Examine your expectations
3. Practice making front-end decisions
Everyone faces frustration, overwhelm and exhaustion. How you handle yours determines the way you feel as you do your work in the world, and ultimately how you live your life.
What helps you to get out of overwhelm?
My family and I have been overwhelmed by the generous outpouring of support received in response to the passing of my brother.
This reminded me of the power of community in helping us navigate major life challenges and changes, both personally and professionally.
These communities can be in-person or virtual and may last for a season or over a longer period of time.
In thinking about the communities I've had the opportunity to facilitate - past and present - the most successful ones have several elements in common.
Creating safe space where people can feel free to be themselves is extremely important in community. At times where we are most vulnerable, this level of safety can allow you to explore thoughts, feelings and actions that lead to valuable insights and clarity.
This goes hand in hand with safety. It relates not only to trusting the individuals that make up the community, but also trusting in the process of giving and receiving that occurs.
The most powerful communities have an agreement of "Vegas rules". What is shared within the group, stays within the group. Most breaches of confidentiality occur without malicious intent, but yet may still unintentionally cause harm. Self-disclosure is allowed. Don't disclose for others.
It's rare to find spaces where you are not judged or judging. In a supportive community, judgment is suspended. This doesn't mean that judgmental thoughts may not arise. The judge is typically the most active part of our mind and many of these thoughts occur unconsciously, With practice and awareness, you can begin to notice when these thoughts are present and consciously choose not to act from a place of judgment. This is not faking it either. People can feel the intent that fuels your words and actions.
There are often events or circumstances that bond us together as a community. Whether it's being born into a family, going through a rigorous training or curriculum together, facing a similar life challenge or collaborating on a project with an important mission, these shared experiences connect us. And this often provides an opportunity to get to know people with different views, backgrounds and other experiences.
This requires that you bring an open mind and an open heart to each interaction you have within the community. Be respectful when someone is sharing and practice active listening. Listen to understand. Be curious. And give people the benefit of the doubt, when needed. We really are all on the same team (you know, that human race).
Another practice that can be invaluable to strengthen a community is compassion for others and also for self. Life can bring us challenges and events that we interpret as painful. It doesn't help to add additional pain in the form of suffering by beating up on ourselves or others. My own coach recently shared a question that she asks herself when she is struggling or life feels hard, "What's the matter, Love?" I thought this was such a beautiful and tender way to talk to yourself. It's how I would show up for my loved ones when they are struggling,
I feel fortunate that I not only get to facilitate community for others, but also to be a part of powerful communities myself. If you are a leader or teacher, you may also facilitate community and hold space for others, but ask yourself if you have a community that you feel you are a part of where you can also receive and not just give. I'm grateful for my diverse, welcoming and supportive community of family and friends. I strongly believe that it takes a village, not just to raise a child, but to thrive in life.
Let me know what you would add to the list above. May you always have the support of community.
Today, we are celebrating Independence Day in the US. This time of year, I generally think about freedom and what it means to me.
There is still much inequality in the world impacting people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, economic status, etc. While we have made much progress, we still have a long way to go.
One of my daily practices is to spend some time identifying 3 things that I'm grateful for. In reviewing my gratitude lists I'm reminded of the saying, "to whom much is given, much is required."
So as we've passed the mid-year mark for 2021, I've decided to focus on how I can be a blessing to others across all areas of my life - in my family for the elder and younger generations; at my place of employment for my team members, clients and co-workers; in my communities both far and near; and for the well-being of groups I am passionate about advocating for - children and physicians.
The past year has been challenging for many of us. Personally, there have been multiple painful losses of loved ones, most recently my beloved brother...the closest loss I've had in my life thus far.
As I think about our relationship and the ways in which he showed up in the world, I have become aware of several important reminders:
Seasons of life. I've been in the season of loss for longer than I'm comfortable and yet, the life events offered have helped me to become clearer on the life I truly want to be living. It's made me appreciate the things that I sometimes take for granted. And so now I get to exercise my freedom to live life on my terms. I have the option to create the life I want to be living by summoning the courage to make the changes necessary to make it happen. I am taking responsibility for the life I have and the life I want to live. And it includes learning how to be more of a blessing in the lives of others.
How about you? What season are you in? What's stopping you from exercising your own personal freedom and living the life you truly want to be living?
Send me a quick note to let me know, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” — Joseph Campbell
Life has been challenging for many people over the past year. There has been considerable loss and change.
Our family has not been immune, losing more than 6 family members, most recently my brother.
There is so much to hold when dealing with the usual life stressors on top of repeated loss.
I’ve found that making space foe both grief and gratitude can be particularly healing.
There are a range of emotions that ebb and flow as you navigate a loss. At times it can feel that the intensity of emotion may completely consume and overwhelm you.
But, if you have the courage to stay present to what is present, you’re likely to notice the ever-changing nature of emotions. Like clouds in the sky they drift and eventually disappear from your view.
It is important to create a sacred space to process and heal the heart. This can be a physical space like a closet or a room no matter how small. Bring in items that promote feelings of calm and safety. For me this includes candles, fresh flowers and inspirational signs and images that remind me of my intention to care for myself. I also love a soft blanket to curl up under.
In addition to physical space, it’s vital to make room in your schedule to allow for mental and emotional space. Processing emotion in a healthy way requires energy. Planning in advance can help.
So as the world opens back up and attempts to return to life as usual, don’t forget that you may need more time and space to process all of the challenges, loss and trauma that the past year has brought.
Give yourself permission to care for yourself, without excuses. Make space to hold and process the grief while also cultivating ways to practice gratitude.
Sending positive, loving and healing wishes to guide you on your journey.
Some of the most profound messages come to me in sets of three.
Recently I’ve had conversations in my personal and professional life that are focused on the frustrations of not being able to control outcomes. The crux of these discussions centered around loss. Loss of an identity when considering a career change. Loss of a relationship that you didn’t want to end. Loss of a sense of freedom in some aspect of your life.
Whether it’s a fear of an impending loss or a loss you’ve already encountered, there is a common feeling of not being quite ready to let go.
In these cases, resistance is present. There’s a lack of acceptance of what’s happening. Sometimes there’s a full on war with the reality of a situation. In both reactions, there is a lot of unnecessary suffering.
So, what do you do? How can you know when it’s time to let go and surrender the outcome vs taking action to positively impact the results you desire?
I came across this article that did a great job of providing guidance on how to discern the difference and how to surrender in a powerful way, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201605/when-its-time-let-go-control-and-surrender.
May it provide valuable insights and words of wisdom to support you on your journey. And may you find strength and courage as you navigate the loss.
If I can be if any support to you as you process the loss, please don’t hesitate to reach out, Michelle@drmichellebailey.com.
The Physician Career Path Reimagined
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