Career Re-Design for Doctors

I am part of a large Facebook group for physicians. I love it. I love doctors – they are my people. Even though I am no longer practicing (at least for now), I still identify very much as a doctor. One thing that I notice over and over again is how many docs complain about the number of patients they see, their clinics, their days, their general busyness, their overwhelm. They think it is just something they have to put up with.

And I get it. That is part of why I left medicine. At the time, I didn’t realize that I had other choices besides leaving my practice. I didn’t realize that we usually only complain about things we feel powerless to change. I didn’t realize that by complaining I was essentially taking all my energy and frustration and defusing it rather than using it to take action and create positive change.

I want to tell you, in case you don’t know, that you can change the way you practice. You don’t have to just cope with it and get through your workday as best you can. As doctors, we are very good at coping.  Too good.  But who wants a career that requires coping and a “get through it” mentality every day?  I didn’t.  And my clients don’t. I want you to love your work, love your patients (if you choose to see them), and love your day to day routine. It is possible.  And you deserve it.  Your patients deserve it.  Your family deserves it.

You can change the way you see patients. You can change your clinics, your schedule, the number or types of patients you see. You can change anything you want. You can stop seeing patients and pursue non-clinical practice. You can leave medicine and do something totally different. Whatever you want, you can create it.  You get what you tolerate. If you want something different, you need to stop accepting the status-quo.

Here are the first three steps to creating change in your work-life.

  1. Step back and notice what it is you want. Too often we are so busy with our day-to-day life that we don’t stop to step back and pay attention to the bigger picture. Ask is this what I want? Am I living my values? Am I creating a life that feels meaningful to me?
  2. Next, notice what it is you are currently tolerating. Check in with yourself. Notice what you like and don’t like. What part of your week is the best and what is the worst? Be specific.
  3. Lastly, and most importantly, notice why you are tolerating the things you don’t enjoy in your current work. You will come up with reasons that seem to simply be facts. It will feel like you are just stating the truth. You may come up with beliefs like “I have to” or “I can’t ask to see fewer patients” or “sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do” or “I can’t let others down”. These are actually not facts. They are thoughts that you deeply believe to be true. You need to start dis-believing these thoughts that are keeping you stuck. Start questioning all of these. Notice what would be different if you didn’t believe them.  How would your life be different if you believed the opposite of them?

Write all these things down. With a pen and paper. Make lists. Notice. Stop complaining and start taking action to change the things you don’t like.

If you need support or help or want to make changes and don’t know how to get started, please contact me. This is what I do. You are who I help.

XOXO – Sara

Don’t Let Gratitude Keep You Stuck

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US. This is a day in which we all (or at least many of us) reflect on all our blessings and what we are grateful for. I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. It combines food (anyone who knows me knows how much I love food) with family and friends.

But I have been thinking a lot about gratitude recently. I think slowing down and appreciating one’s life and feeling grateful for everything in it is wonderful. It feels great. It’s paying attention to the beauty of life right now.

But I also see gratitude being mis-used as an excuse for not going after what you want. I did this a lot! I used gratitude as a way to stay stuck in my life. I think I basically confused the idea of being grateful – really really grateful – for everything in my life, with the idea that I shouldn’t want more from life. For me it looked like being grateful that I had a good career as a doctor. I got to help people. I had a good income. I worked four days a week. And I felt guilty that I wanted more from life. I felt guilty that I wasn’t happier and more content.

I told myself I shouldn’t want more. I told myself I should just be grateful for what I had. The “should” and the “just” are the keys to where those thoughts go wrong. If you tell yourself a lot of things with the words “should” or “shouldn’t”, “just” and “can’t” – take notice!

Yes, those things for which I was grateful were all true about my career and life. And I was using gratitude to deny what was also true for me. I didn’t like practicing medicine. I was unhappy at work. My personal life was almost non-existent. And I felt stuck in my life. On top of that, I felt guilty for wanting more. Somehow, I had confused gratitude and my genuine desire for change.

Being grateful for what you have doesn’t mean you can’t want more for your life.

Being Grateful Quote

Once I learned this, it all changed. Now I realize that being more present to life, and feeling gratitude for all that I have in my life and all that I get to do, is what allows me to want more. I want more – for me and for others. I want more – for me and for the world.

Be grateful but don’t be afraid to want more. Life wants more for you too!

XOXO

What’s Holding You Hostage Right Now?

My guess is that something right now in your life is holding you hostage, keeping you from doing what you truly want to be doing. What is it? A job you don’t like? Money worries? Loneliness? An unhappy relationship? Family problems?

We all have something, or many things, holding us hostage—keeping us stuck and unable to move forward in our lives.

What would your life look like if you could break free? What would be possible in your life if you no longer had this particular worry or problem?

How are you the one holding yourself hostage here? Why aren’t you rescuing yourself and how could you begin right now?

What Do You Want and Why Do You Want It?

What do you want? This is a great question to ask yourself regularly. It is something many folks never ask themselves, for reasons that include being “too busy” or afraid of the answer or maybe thinking that it doesn’t matter because they aren’t going to get it anyway. I ask coaching clients this all the time. I also hear a lot of “I don’t know.” To which I reply, if you did know, what would your answer be? This is a great way to short-circuit the “I don’t know” answer.

However, an even better question I think than “what do you want” is the follow-up question, “why do you want that?” The answer – after a lot of digging – is usually because we think that getting or experiencing whatever it is that we want, will make us feel a certain way. It is not the getting that we seek, it is the feeling we want once we get there.

The truth however, is that the feeling is available to us right now. We don’t need to get what we want before we can feel a certain way. Our feelings are a result of what we are thinking. Think better thoughts – feel better now. I am not suggesting you think thoughts that are untrue or that you don’t believe, simply that you choose better-feeling thoughts, and see what happens.

Still want what you want? Then go for it! But feel how you want to feel already!

What Have You Stopped Wanting?

As a coach, I ask people what they want. Some people know. A lot of people don’t know. Some people have stopped wanting altogether.

If you don’t know what you want—how will you ever get it?

What have you stopped wanting? Or what have you given up on ever getting?

What is Your Secret Destiny?

I am in the midst of reading Anam Cara, a book of Celtic wisdom, by John O’Donohue. It is at times a bit slow-going for me, as I have to pause and think about what I am reading. This is often a good thing for me! There is so much wisdom and truth in this book—I am loving it.

Right now I am almost overwhelmed by this line:

one of the greatest sins is the unlived life

How different is this point of view from how most of us think? How could our lives be different if this were instilled in us from childhood? If you took this idea to heart, how would your life be different?

Each of us has a different dream for our life. Each of us has a secret destiny, one that calls to us, beckoning. We look away, or turn away, for many reasons. Usually fear, disbelief, or even false modesty. We do not believe we can have what we dream of, wonder about, wish for.

What is your secret destiny? Your dream? What would you do today if you started looking at your unlived life as a sin and not as the norm?