How to Achieve Any Goal: The Carpe Diem Process Stage 2 Continued


Hello again!

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m doing a mini Carpe Diem process to help you go from feeling stuck to moving the needle on what matters to you. 

What’s the one thing you’d really like to change?

What do you keep thinking about, but putting off? 

If this is something you’ll have regrets about later on if you don’t do it, l want to help you get started now!

You can use the CARPE DIEM approach. Here are the steps:

C – Commitment

A – Assessment (we’re here today)

R – Research

P – Preparation

E – Execution

In case you missed the first two blogs, the first stage was making a Commitment Statement about what you want to be different in your life. 

Here’s an example sent in last week from Dr. Jenny Goss, OB/Gyn physician:

Jenny is a highly creative physician and traditional practice can feel like a rather confining box. Honoring who she is and how she’s wired is going to help her avoid going in unsatisfying and unsustainable directions. 

At this point, Jenny doesn’t need to know how she’s going to fulfill this commitment statement or what the endpoint will look like. The “how” can be figured out later. 

You don’t need to know these things either to make your own commitment. 

Declaring what you want and making it visible on a daily basis will start programming your internal GPS with new software. 

When what you want is jumbled in your mind with all the reasons why you can’t have it, confusion, rather than clarity, is the result. 

Write your statement down, stick it up on the fridge or the bathroom mirror, or wherever you can see it, and read it daily out loud. 

Start looking for little clues and events that your strong intention is helping direct you towards this goal. 

The next stage is the Assessment phase. The assignment was to do a stick-figure drawing that illustrates where you are compared to where you’d rather be. 

The two different sketches can illustrate your job, a specific setting, or simply capture a way that you are feeling about yourself and your life. 

Below is an example sent in from pediatrician, Dr. Elizabeth:

On side A, Dr. Elizabeth is a very caring physician, but she feels a heavy burden and is exhausted by the demands of seeing patients. The EMR, the riskiness of medicine and not having flexibility are some of the things stressing her out. 

A sense of security, benefits, a short commute, and liking some of what she does is keeping her in A. 

She’d like to be on side B where she can contribute on a larger scale, learn, make an impact, and have more flexibility for family and fun. Having less worry and stress is also key. 

She also wrote down what will help her move from A to B – less clinical time, nonclinical activities, and having better EMR templates. 

It’s also common for certain fears and doubts to keep you on side A. These are often fear of failure, fear of making a change and being more unhappy, or losing income. There can also be big questions marks about HOW to even get to side B.  

If only there was a clear path with bright green arrows from A to B and a money back guarantee it was all going to work out. 

While I can’t offer a guarantee, I can offer you a simple way to get started and test things out as you go along. 

Look at your picture each day and ask, “What is one thing I can do to start moving from A to B?” 

It could be anything at all – a tiny step or a big decision. As long as your feet are pointing towards B, the little steps will take you in the right direction. 

As you take these steps, you can see if you’re feeling better or more hopeful. Even feeling 1% better is moving in the right direction. 

Now for the next step in the Assessment phase.

To dig into what you want to be doing on side B, you’re going to be looking at three things:

Conversations – what do you love to talk about?

Content – what is the content related to?

The Delta – what is the delta (change) you’re excited to make?

I want you to think about the kinds of conversations you enjoy and don’t get bored with. Who are you talking with? Why are these conversations energizing? These “conversations” can also be conversations you have with yourself, what your mind wants to chew on.

Then look at the content in these conversations. What are you talking about? What does your mind love to think about? Where does it gravitate towards if given free rein?

Lastly, you want to look at the delta or change that’s meaningful for you to make. What kind of impact would you like to have if you could affect something that mattered to you? Are you motivated to help individuals make a change? Systems? Is there a particular problem you want to solve? 

I hinted in the last blog that I would give an example of why I didn’t end up having a sclerotherapy practice even though my drawing on Side B showed me doing sclero on a patient and being happy.

If I apply the above assessment step to this situation, it gives me a deeper understanding of why I was happier on side B, and how it foreshadowed my future career. 

Conversations – In my side B, I’m not discussing skin with my patient, I’m listening to her talk about her life and what matters. Fast forward to my current work as a career coach, I love the conversations I have with my physician clients about what’s important to them in their career and life. 

Content – I love all the content around the process of career transformation. From resumes to nonclinical options, from personality type to job interviews, it all interests me. I love the “hunt” of finding a great career. 

Delta – (the change) – I definitely enjoyed helping patients change their skin for the better.  Especially satisfying was seeing how clearing up a teen’s cystic acne could be life-changing. Yet for me, helping physicians go from feeling burned out and deeply disheartened to being happy in their career was ultimately the delta that most energized me. And I do not in any way mean to imply that helping patients is any less important. 

Now it’s your turn!

Don’t worry if your answers to these questions about conversations, content, and the delta seem unconnected to anything financially feasible or practical. 

The point is to keep learning about:

What energizes you. 

What makes you happy. 

What you love to learn and problem solve around. 

These are clues to what connects you to your spirit, the very essence of who you are. If you allow these things to have a say, they will help you align with who you really are and by the laws of physics, you will be going in the right direction. 

“A body in alignment with self follows its true path.” 

One of Einstein’s lesser-known theories. (Or so I’d like to think!)

These exercises may seem simple, or even a bit childish, but the overarching goal is to help you cut down the noise and be able to listen to yourself. 

If you’re not listening to yourself, who are you listening to?

There is a part of you that has a lot more certainty and knowledge about what it needs to be happy than you realize. Give that part of you the microphone, pen, and paper. Listen to it. Write down what you hear. Draw what that picture looks like. Keep asking that part of you what it needs. 

The how can be figured out. 

Making friends with uncertainty allows you to focus on the possibilities rather than the problems.

Here’s to Carpe’ing that Diem and living on Side B!

Next up… Research phase! 

I’ll be back soon, 


As always, a big Thank you to the physicians who shared their work, Dr. Jenny Goss and Dr. Elizabeth.

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  1. Anieka Johnson on June 25, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    I like this article.I am trying to figure out my next career move and it helps to organise my thoughts and get in touch with what I really want.

    • Heather Fork on June 25, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Anieka! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It’s great to hear from you. I’m really glad the content in this blog is helpful for you. Yes, it can be challenging to figure out how to get started with making career changes. There are more questions than answers and it can feel a bit overwhelming. But if you just get started and don’t worry about figuring out all the steps in advance, it’s so much easier to just begin the process. Good luck to you in your career move – please keep us posted!

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"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

"There have been a handful of people who have come into my life and changed it, and Heather is one of those people."

From the very first interaction with Heather, it became abundantly clear that she possessed a systematic approach and a methodology firmly rooted in my focusing on my goals and aspirations. Heather's coaching sessions helped me dismantle limiting beliefs and unearth the capable woman, mother, and physician within me. Under Heather's guidance, I began to dream again. I rediscovered my passion for writing, found the courage to share my stories, and even launched my own coaching practice. Today, I specialize in helping others conquer imposter syndrome and overcome burnout, empowering them to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. Working with Heather fundamentally shifted my perspective and allowed me to show up authentically in every facet of my life, resulting in a profound sense of fulfillment.

I am deeply grateful that I can continue my work in the emergency department and serve my community as a physician as well as a coach. Working with Heather was a transformative gift that enabled me to rediscover my true self, find clarity in my life's purpose, and unlock my full potential. Through her guidance, I not only reignited the powerful, confident, and bold version of myself I had lost sight of but also realized the boundless possibilities that lay ahead.

- Maria Dominguez 

Emergency physician and coach