Do Your Pajamas Spark Joy? And Other Key Career Questions

Border

 

jump for joy 2 pixabay

I have two questions for you, dear readers,

“Do your pajamas spark joy?” And….

“Is there room for your rocks in your container of life?”

These are two questions you should be asking yourself if you want to jump- start your career change process.

Sounds as if I’ve gone nuts, I am sure, unless you’ve read Marie Kondo’s, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Hang with me. I promise I’ll connect the dots.

The topic for today is how creating space in both our home environment and schedule invites in new opportunities and positive change. When our closets and drawers are stuffed full, and our schedule packed with obligations, there is little room for something new to enter in. It’s very difficult to give time and attention to anything other than not falling off the hamster wheel.

Marie Kondo’s book urges clutter-free-wanna-be clients to systematically go through everything they own and ask a simple, yet powerful question:

“Does this ________ (insert book, T-shirt, DVD, pair of pajamas, old love letter, etc.) spark joy?”

She uses this question as a test to determine whether or not an item should stay or go. While it may feel odd to ask if your Tupperware sparks joy, I see merit to the question. I like it because it challenges me to notice what my relationship is to all the things in my environment. Am I hanging onto things because keeping them is easier than dealing with them? Do I have more than I need? Do I get a spark of joy when I look at the knickknacks on my shelf, or are they just gathering dust?

When we have too much of anything, whether it’s clothes, lipsticks, CD’s or old papers, we don’t fully appreciate what we have. The value of the individual item is diminished. The more we acquire, the more time we spend purchasing, cleaning, maintaining and storing things. And periodically we have to go through everything and do the big declutter.

When I was reading Kondo’s book, I did an experiment. I separated my clothes into two closets. The clothes I really enjoy wearing and feel good in (the sparky ones) went in one closet. The others that were low on the “spark-o-meter” were hung in another.

When I opened the “sparking joy” closet, my energy perked up. The clothes looked like they belonged together and I was excited to pick something out. When I peered into the other closet, my shoulders drooped. The clothes were kind of ho-hum and I felt I was looking at a Goodwill rack. They weren’t the clothes I felt my best in. After a week of this experiment, and no change in my feelings, I bagged up the ho-hum clothes and gave them away. As soon as they were gone, it was as if a weight had been lifted. Those clothes had been extracting an energy tax, as well as taking up space.

A home with only what you need and love feels peaceful and light. Here it is easier to focus; there is a feeling of calm and order. This kind of environment will support you in whatever changes you want to make.

Now on to the rocks.

The second part of creating space, the rocks and container part, has to do with getting clear on what is most important to you, and making sure you put these things into your schedule first.

In his 7 Habits book, Stephen Covey uses a parable involving putting rocks, pebbles, sand, and water into a container to illustrate the value of prioritizing what matters most in your day-to-day life. The rocks represent what is most important to you, and the pebbles, sand, and water, are everything else you have to do. If you don’t put the rocks in your container first, but try to stuff them in around the sand and pebbles, you won’t get your rocks in.

Your rocks could represent time for meaningful relationships, healthy living, completing a project, focusing on spirituality, or anything that really matters to you. For many of you, it may be allotting time to reinvigorate your career or change its direction. A rock can even be a space-holder. For example, you may want to have more creativity or adventure in your life, but have no idea what this would look like. You can put in a rock to hold this time for you while you figure out the specifics.

In my own experience, it was only in hindsight that I learned about the power of these principles. When I was in limbo after selling my dermatology practice, I downsized from a 2,400 square foot house to a tiny cabin. I got rid of most of my possessions. I emptied out my container and took time deciding what to put back in. For a while, there was a lot of space in my container. And then one day, rather unexpectedly, a new career direction emerged out of that space.

There’s no need to go to the extremes I did. It’s not practical, nor desirable for most. I see people making powerful changes all the time, and no one yet has moved into a cabin. (And I’ve moved out of mine). But I do hear about a lot of good closet cleaning, renovations, and just plain saying “no” to things that no longer serve a purpose.

So get out the spark-o-meter, go through your house, and see what moves the needle. Find a beautiful glass container, select your rocks, and make sure to put them in first. If you want, label each rock as a visual reminder of what matters most to you. And go easy on the pebbles and sand….

 

Latest Posts

Find what you're looking for:

Heather Fork

4 Comments

  1. Ursula King on January 20, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for this food for thought. I agree. The irony of joy is that you have leave the window open. A sealed, weatherproofed life maintains it’s horizon but can become airless, stale. And a medical life can become such a sealed space. Uncritiqued effort to maintain the career because of the hard work that went into creating it has to be justified. The hamster wheel keeps turning.

    I took the plunge to reframe my horizon over the past year or so. In an inelegant series of splashes, I floundered in the fear and guilt of wanting to ‘get out’. Privileged by a medical career, and all the things that went with that, I hesitated to throw anything away. Cluttered by habit and uncertainty, it took illness and a family death to create a place for the rock.

    Many times I reached for that rock to fill the space with what I already knew, the familiar but jaded world I had created. But I resisted (with a little help from my friends) and gradually, my world opened up. The hamster reclined on a sun lounge with a funky pair of sunglasses and a bikini, and the wheel got dismantled. Not quite sure what to do with the bits, I kept them ‘just in case’. At first, I used them to bridge my tentative transition. I quickly realised that was only leading me down similar paths, not the substantive change I was seeking. I tried, I failed, I questioned my sanity, and all the while the universe had the good grace just to keep the rock there.

    And now I’m a hybrid self. Happier than I have ever been, and calmer, more present, and, yes, joyful. Still figuring out how to mix my paint pot of options, I am learning to listen to my heart more than my head (that was the hardest part). Creating the space was the key. The rock gave me that. And not for a second do I miss that hamster wheel.

    • Heather Fork on January 22, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Ursula King, thank you for this most creatively written response to the Sparking Pajama post! I loved the way you told your story with such a great use of images and metaphor. You have a gift for written expression. I am really happy your hamster wheel got dismantled and your windows opened up to let in abundant joy. Keep on listening to this awakened heart of yours and I am sure you will be painting quite a lovely life of colors and possibilities.

  2. maduarte on February 19, 2017 at 10:18 am

    “If you don’t put the rocks in your container first, but try to stuff them in around the sand and pebbles, you won’t get your rocks in”
    I disagree:
    http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/01/tidy-profits-of-life-changing-magic.html

    • Heather Fork on February 19, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Thank you Marleen for your comment and reading the post. Do you want to elaborate? I like Stephen Covey’s metaphor of putting our rocks in the container first, i.e., prioritizing what is important to us in life, as one approach to not letting everything else in life crowd out what we are really wanting to do, be or have. But if you have a system that works better for you – great! Please feel free to share.

Leave a Comment





Doctors-Crossing-Physicians-Insider-Guide (1)

GetThe Physician's Insider Guide

15 of the most common FAQs on physician career transition

Sign up below to get the resource to jump-start your career transformation! You will also receive the latest blogs and updates from Heather.

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

Anesthesiologist
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
Steve

“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 passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

Today...my 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

Pathologist
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
Amie

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
Untitled design

"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