How to Achieve Any Goal: Final Stages: Preparation and Execution


We’re wrapping up our mini Carpe Diem process! I hope you’re already seeing changes in your life from just getting started!

Today we’re covering the last stages: Preparation and Execution.


Here’s a review of the stages:

C – Commitment
A – Assessment
R – Research
P – Preparation
E – Execution

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up with the earlier Carpe Diem process blogs here.

Preparation is a key stage because what you do and don’t do here can greatly impact the success of your final stage, Execution.

Remember all the prep you did to get into medical school? You took the required courses, studied for the MCAT, volunteered in the ER or a lab, shadowed a family doc, wrote a killer essay, took time to interview, and other things as well.

You had a big goal and you likely did a lot to make it happen.

Fast forward, you may be in practice now for a few years or twenty plus, and you have some different goals.

What is the preparation that’s going to help you execute these desires now?

I like to break down preparation into three different categories.

Launching Pad Prep
Mindset Prep
Move the Needle Prep

A little pneumonic is L-M-N-O-P! Launching Pad-Mindset-Needle-On-with the-Prep. Kind of silly but I like simple ways to remember things.

Launching Pad Prep: this prep gives you a strong platform to make the changes you’re seeking. This could be decluttering your house and organizing closets and spaces. Perhaps starting an exercise routine or getting on a better sleep schedule. It might be examining your relationships and seeing which ones are supporting you, and which ones are draining your energy.

Launching pad prep could also be evaluating your finances and taking more control over your investments or spending. You may want to figure out what income you need going forward.

In order to have the time and energy to do something different, you need to have all cylinders firing.  Things that distract and drain your energy are going to impede your lift-off.

Mindset Prep: The biggest barriers to making changes may not be the ones outside of us. They can be simply the thoughts inside our head. And that’s actually good news because those are the ones we have the most control over. Whether we know it or not, we’re typically coming from a fear-based or trust-based mindset. A clue that you’re using more of a fear-based mindset is that you focus more on the problems versus the possibilities of a situation. Decisions made from a perspective of trust in ourselves take us in the right direction. Fear-based decisions take us off-track or keep us stuck. For a simple approach and exercise to determine what perspective you’re in, check this blog, Fear vs. Trust in Leaving Medicine.

Move the Needle Prep: This kind of prep consists of action steps that start directly connecting the dots to the changes you want to make.
For a lot of my clients, move the needle prep involves creating a resume, doing interview prep, working on their LinkedIn profile, and networking.

Move the needle prep could also be taking a relevant course, getting a certification, shadowing a physician in your area of interest, or learning a new skill.

In the cartoon below Dr. Rachel shares a delightful cartoon that depicts some of the changes she’d like to see in her career and life.

Here is a description she wrote about some of the career prep she’s doing:

Prepping for me has involved leaning into the non-medical topics that have always interested me, even if it’s not clear how to actually forge a new career out of them. I’m trying to trust the process. If I lean into where my interests are, it’s my hope that the pursuit will organically lead me somewhere relevant, where I can still use my medical degree.

To that end, over the past two months I took a basic HTML/CSS coding class. I started auditing a class called CS50 Intro to Computer Science through EDx, even convincing my husband to join (“What if you could MAKE video games instead of just playing them?) I learned WordPress to create my own website, on which I started a fledgling blog. And I quit my current job, after giving 4 month’s notice. It was an amiable and drama-free affair, not one that involved door-slamming and expletives about “THE WORST EMR EVER!”

In a pandemic-catalyzed turn of events, my husband’s new job also has us planning a move to a different state with a significantly lower cost of living than NYC. Our housing costs alone will drop by 50%. As a result, I’m negotiating a part-time clinical job at the local medical school there. I could also see doing some remote consulting and part-time teaching. It’s my goal to decrease my clinical hours and our cost of living so that I can learn new tech skills, and also pursue creative interests such as writing and crafting. Yes, crafting! It is too an art! Have you ever seen those miniature animals made entirely from felted cat fur?

If you want to learn more about Dr. Rachel, and missed her very popular and incredibly well-written blog post on my site, you’ll find it here.

The final phase, Execution, doesn’t need any explanation. You just do it!

I’d love to hear about the prep you’re doing on the changes that are important to you, and celebrate with you when you execute those changes!

Speaking of execution, our Carpe Diem Resume Kit is officially available! This DIY kit is all you need to convert your resume into a rocking resume. You can get all the details here.

A big Thank you to Dr. Rachel for contributing her wonderful cartoon and update on her career transition.

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Heather Fork


  1. Dr. Stiles on July 16, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for doing what you do, helping physicians find their path to a fulfilling life inside or outside of medicine.

    • Heather Fork on July 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      Why thank you kindly Dr. Stiles. Your words are much appreciated. It is my absolute pleasure to help other physicians. It’s not easy to be in medicine, especially now, and there are so many ways doctors can contribute to improving health, and also the world in general. It’s not limited to wearing the white coat. Thank you again for your comment.

Leave a Comment


"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine
Tim O

The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

Family Medicine
Lynette Charity

“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Gail Miller

“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

- Gail Miller, MD

OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
KB Karen Barnard Photo

"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"Heather was my source of hope during a time when I felt stuck and confused. She gave me the permission and confidence to reach higher than I believed I could."

After graduating from residency and starting a family, I lost sight of why I became a physician. I struggled to convince myself to stay in a career that was clearly the wrong fit for me and my family. My anxiety about work was at an all-time high when I reached out to Heather. She provided something that my mentors, friends, and family could not – rather than just offering career advice, she changed the way I think about my life so that I could understand how my career would fit into it. I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on medicine and eventually found a job in academic medicine. I finally feel that excitement for medicine that I used to feel when I was in training. More importantly, I feel like I can be the role model to my young daughter who may one day also face similar challenges between career and family. Thank you, Heather, for all your kindness, support, and skillful coaching! The experience was life-changing!

- Yuri Shindo, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
Camille Gardner-Beasley

"As a Physician, your personal and even professional needs are often overlooked. I learned how to prioritize my career goals by working with Dr. Heather Fork."

She taught me how to put into practice what I knew in theory, that taking care of myself was a priority. I learned to give myself permission to make the career choices that would give me the work-life balance I desperately craved and needed. The process of confronting fears and insecurities was a bit scary, but well worth it in the end. I am now a happier version of myself with a non-clinical job that I truly enjoy!

- Camille Gardner-Beasley, MD

Family Medicine
Anna testimonial

"After 10 years in outpatient family medicine I felt stuck and knew I needed a change but I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully I found Heather and she guided me every step of the way."

She helped me carefully assess my interests, strengths and passions while also providing me with constructive changes to implement in my job search and resume. With Heather’s help, I just landed a fully remote UM position and I am also exploring coaching as well. Now I feel like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited for this next chapter in the nonclinical world! Thank you Heather for changing my life for the better.

- Ana Jacobellis, DO


"I'm truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be coached by Heather, she is not only a resourceful mentor but a wise and supportive friend. I'm honored to recommend Heather to all my friends and colleagues."

I had been a practicing Internist for 20 years when I reached a point when I needed to make a serious change in my career path. While I enjoyed seeing patients, I was not satisfied with my life-work balance. My job was taking me away from my family and left me little time and energy to do other things that are important and meaningful to me. I came across Dr. Fork's podcast; The Doctor's Crossing Carpe Diem Podcast, it is such an informative and enjoyable podcast for any physician who wants to do more with their career and life in general. Then I had the pleasure to get career coaching from Heather, it was truly an amazing experience. Heather has broad knowledge of all the different career paths that are available for physicians, she is so insightful and very easy to talk to. She helped me clarify my goals, examine my own mindset and definition of success. Together we developed a clear plan and actionable steps to reach these goals. I eventually made a career transition to a remote non-clinical position that allows me to do meaningful work which aligns with my personal and professional goals and priorities.

- Abbey Awad, MD

Internal Medicine