January 19, 2020

Dating advice for your career – my brother’s story

When my little brother Dave does something, I pay attention.

Not just to what he does, but HOW he does it.

I remember watching him use two garbage cans and a pole to learn how to ride a unicycle.

I remember watching him learn how to build bicycles by taking them apart and putting them back together.

Last month I spoke at his wedding and revealed to the guests how my dear brother, a physicist and engineer, found the love of his life.

Today I’m sharing Dave’s approach to finding love because there are great parallels to finding a job/career that you love.

Step One – Get clear on what you want

Before he started dating, Dave made a list of what was important to him in a relationship and a partner. He’d been married once before, so he had some perspective.

He also wrote an online profile where he described the woman he was looking for – not her appearance, but her qualities and values. He included a funny and true description of himself and what he offered as a partner. (He shared the profile with me the other day and it gave me goosebumps. He had perfectly described the two of them!)

Before applying to jobs or considering different career directions, write down everything you can think of that you want and prioritize the list. Think about what’s working and not working in your current job and any past jobs, to inform your list.

Write out a vision of what you want this job to be like. The more specific you can be with details, even down to the emotions you want to feel on the job, the better. You don’t have to know exactly what kind of work you’ll be doing to do this exercise.

Make sure to include what you bring to the table and have to offer. This is your value proposition and helps you know your worth – so you don’t settle.

Step Two – Do some research

Dave told me about how he did a lot of reading about the science behind human attraction and chemistry. He got into the biological underpinnings of mate selection… There was talk about pheromones and sweaty T-shirts and way more than I can remember. I had to remind myself, my brother makes his living doing research and he likes being well-prepared.

When it comes to a different job or career direction, research often involves networking. Finding people who work in a specific job or career sector you’re interested in is a great way to learn if it would be a good fit for you. Physician FaceBook Groups, LinkedIn, conferences, blogs, podcasts, and good old Google are great resources.

Step Three – Get out there and date/interview

Dave said that when he started dating, he made the commitment to go on two dates a week until he found “The One.” He said, “I knew I’d have to kiss a lot of frogs, but I was up for it.”

He also revealed that he had a…….. Can you guess??  A spreadsheet! We were talking on the phone when he told me this, and I could tell he was searching his computer for it. I was soooooo curious what was on it. But no luck. It was gone. It had served its purpose to keep track of his dates.

I suggest to my clients to create a spreadsheet when they’re interviewing for jobs. On the spreadsheet are all the things they’re looking for in a job. After the interviews, they rate each company on the criteria they selected, as well as their current company.

When interviewing for a job, don’t forget they’re not the only ones doing the interviewing. You‘re interviewing them as well.

You’re trying to find out if they are a good match for you.

The information on your spreadsheet can help you be strategic in asking questions that will help you figure out if they are the one for you.

Step Four – Evaluate your true feelings

Dave’s first date with Lynne sounded so romantic. They met at a French restaurant near a train stop on the Caltrain line. Like out of a movie, she is this gorgeous, effervescent, redheaded gal with beautiful green eyes. At dinner, they hold hands across the table. She’s a doctor. Smart, fun, funny. 

He said he just knew there was something special about Lynne.

And… he also had the benefit of getting to go on more dates.

Unfortunately, after the interviews are over, we don’t get to “go on more dates.” If we get a job offer, we have to make a decision.

When you’re on the fence about a job and it’s not an obvious YES, go back to your spreadsheet.

If being passionate about your work is at or near the top, you do want to be feeling really excited about the work you’re going to be doing.

If having flexibility and benefits are at or near the top of the list, you don’t have to be head over heels in love with the job. It first and foremost needs to have the structure and compensation package that works for you. On the spreadsheet, see how your current job compares with the new opportunity.

Do you deserve to love your job?
Another factor can be less obvious, but still at play. It’s believing you deserve what you want and it’s OK to want it.

I hear physicians say sometimes, “But who likes their job anyway? Isn’t that why they call it work?” Or, “I feel like I’m just whining about my job. Other people are working even harder than me.”

To find that special love, you have to believe it’s possible. (My brother initially said he wasn’t getting married again.)

To find that job you love, you have to believe it’s possible.

And know you deserve it.

And trust me, you do! Give yourself the time and resources to take whatever steps you need to enjoy your work and life. Life’s too short to be kissing too many frogs, or feeling like one. 


On July 10th I’m featuring our brand new member of the Physician Career Transition Posse!!  

A special thank you to my brother Dave for sharing his story of finding Lynne and for being such an inspiration to me in so many ways.  



  1. Wow Dr Heather! What a great story and more importantly what great insight into the “dating” your career. As a physician, an Anesthesiologist, now working part-time because I can, I used some of your brother’s techniques and am very content with my decisions. They say “money can’t buy you love” and honestly it won’t make a job you hate more palatable if you dread going everyday! Yes, you can trudge through that job just for the paycheck, but at what cost to your well-being? It’s like a really bad marriage that you choose to stay in. Ask yourself “Why?” So to all who read this blog, start your spreadsheets, do the homework, and find your “Mr/Mrs Right”. Make your medical career, clinical or non-clinical, the love of your life again.

    • Very well said Dr. Lynette! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I totally agree with you that a bad job can be like a bad marriage (or relationship) and you have to decide if “counseling’ can help it or if you do need a separation or divorce from your job. I’m glad you found your way to a good place and are happy with your decisions. Regret is a tough emotion to deal with and we can’t change what has happened.

  2. Lynette D Charity MD says:

    So true. So true.

  3. Gail Miller says:

    Love this post! It’s so true that there are similarities to finding love and finding the right job – great analogy.

  4. Thank you bunches Dr. Gail Miller!! It’s fun to talk about love and dating too. We spend (usually) way, way more time preparing for the work we are going to do in our lifetime as compared to preparing for the right partner… AND we spend more time AT work than we do with our partners, it makes sense we would want to find work we love as much as a partner to love. I appreciate your reading and commenting. Makes my day.

  5. I love this! Especially the part about realizing that we do deserve to love what we do! As the old saying goes, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I continue to believe that is possible, but as doctors, especially in today’s world, we often need to remind ourselves of that. We deserve to find—and do—what makes us happy. And on that note, I’ll be going back to writing my novel now! Thank you, Heather!

    • Thank you kindly Yasmine! I love the quote you cited… so true. When you love the work you do, there are no more Mondays. Just Fundays. I’m glad you are a believer. The more people that hold this belief and live it, the more others are inspired to find that work-love too! So excited you are writing a novel. Let us know when it is hot off the press!!

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