November 15, 2019

How I’m Getting Unstuck – Phase I

Hey there everyone!

I can’t thank you enough for your supportive comments on my last post, Scary Stuff! What Challenges Me, about feeling stuck in how I want to grow my business. Your words were like rocket fuel for me and I am truly grateful.

Today I’m going to share Phase I of how I’m getting unstuck. My purpose is to help any of you who are feeling stuck as I know how painful and frustrating it can be.

An interesting “ah-ha” came to me as I was writing this blog that I think applies not just to my own experience but is also true for my coaching clients.

I do believe when we set a strong intention to change or grow, even if we don’t feel ready or know where we’re going, our inner wisdom starts preparing the way. Our inner GPS is activated.

Last year, before I even started taking deliberate steps on my business direction, I think this inner wisdom was guiding me to prepare my launching pad for change. Here’s how it happened:

Phase 1 – Preparing my launching pad

Houston, we have a problem! 2018 was a tough one and there’s no way I would’ve been able to launch a potato, let alone a new business direction from my launching pad.

There were four main things I did unwittingly, which prepared my launching pad for action and something more than firing tater tots. The first step was…

Creating space

My launching pad was not filled with clutter (I’d already done the Marie Kondo thing), but it was filled with “doing.” Life was already super busy and then my father, who lived alone in Alabama, became ill. I stopped taking new coaching clients and began traveling back and forth to help him. Sadly, he ended up passing away. I really miss him, but I know he did exactly what he loved most until he died at 82 – physics and ground-breaking research. When he was gone there was an incredible amount to do with his estate. My brilliant dad was more focused on asteroid deflection than the mundanities of life.

After hundreds of hours on his estate, things settled down and finally, there was some space.

And in that space, I actually had time to notice some issues in my own life that needed addressing. My next step was….

Focusing on my health

You know there’s an issue when you’re sleeping in the closet on couch cushions! And no, it wasn’t a lover’s quarrel, it was insomnia. With my dad’s passing and family stuff, my insomnia had amped up. I sleep better in small, dark rooms, so why not the closet? But with some other minor health issues getting worse, I decided to get serious and find some help. I tried a variety of things for my health and insomnia, all along the continuum from traditional medicine to hypnosis. Thankfully, I’m doing a lot better, and am more or less out of the closet!

Now that I had time and was more rested, I had the bandwidth for…

Addressing my relationships 

I feel lucky to have great relationships. No matter how good they are, from time to time there are important things that are hard to talk about. There were some issues circulating in my mind that I wanted to bring up. The thoughts contributed to the overall feeling of stuckness. So, I took the dive and had some honest talks. They weren’t easy, but they went well. It’s a good reminder to me that I can avoid conversations to try and “protect” other people’s feelings – and my own. However, it’s often those very conversations that allow me to be more authentic and present for the people I love.

In spite of feeling better in general, I still felt stuck in terms of how I wanted to change my business That’s when I got the wild idea to make a “do or die” commitment to 365 days of daily meditation outside (here’s the blog post). I had this notion that in order to get the ball rolling, I needed to be….

Committing to something uncomfortable

At the time when I made this commitment, I didn’t have a logical explanation about how sitting on a bench outside every day meditating for 20 minutes was going to move me forward. If, anything, it would just leave me with less time to work on my business. However, something in me was really excited by the idea.

Now that I’ve been doing this daily practice for over 6 months, I see how this decision made perfect sense. If I’m going to grow my business in new ways, I’m going to have to get uncomfortable – a lot. If I want to grow as a person, it’s going to be uncomfortable.

The commitment part added another dimension – of being disciplined in a different way – different than school or work discipline. The commitment was one I made to myself. In a paradoxical way, the commitment made doing a daily meditation practice the easiest thing in the world. It’s a joy bomb. No longer are there these questions – When do I meditate? Do I have time? Is it worth it?

My commitment turned the pesky question marks into exclamation points of decisiveness.

This experience reminds me of the oft-quoted phrase, “love is not a feeling, it’s a decision.” This may seem like a bit of an aside, but I think it’s getting closer to what happens when we make a strong commitment to ourselves – we start to value and trust ourselves more. We begin to believe we’re capable of doing what challenges us. Dare I say we begin to love ourselves more?

If we wait until we feel ready to love ourselves enough to push our limits and find out who we really are, the time may never come. But in this moment, we can decide we are ready.

Stay tuned for How I’m Getting Unstuck – Phase II, May 1st, where I’m going to talk about getting into action, burning the credit card, making mistakes, and a goat named Butters!

If you’re eager to make your own changes, you can click here to download a worksheet to help you with your own launching pad.


  1. Sorry for your loss, Heather. Thank you for sharing addressing and sharing your experience in getting unstuck. We all struggle with sticking at some point (or many points) in our lives, and sometimes tend to think we can just snap out of it or it will go away with time. But an an intentional approach is really the way to go.

    • Sylvie, what a sweet message to wake up to this morning. Thank you so much for your kindness and thoughtful comments. I appreciate you and also all that you do with Look For Zebras for other physicians figuring it out!

  2. Dear Heather. So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I continue to enjoy your blog posts and so resonate with that ‘stuck, questioning our inner GPS, trusting the process, doing the work, answering the difficult questions and then sitting still’. Much love. Keep imprinting your mark on the planet.

    • Dear Eno, what a treat to hear from you! I hope all is well in your world and you are shakin’ it up! Thank you so much for your kind sentiments. I really appreciate that you read the blog and will try to keep making it valuable.

  3. Very sorry for your loss, Heather. I have been through similar with my dad. Also I can identify with feeling “stuck.” Regular meditating (or simply tuning in), can certainly help with that — and with clarity for what you want to do next! Sending thoughts of support and care your way.

    • Good morning Pam, it’s lovely to hear from you. I remember first “meeting” you when you were doing the moderating for a physician site and you always wrote the most sincere and thoughtful responses. Thank you for your kind words and understanding. I’m thinking of you and your own experience regarding your dad. Knowing what I do of you, I am sure you have been able to give quite a lot to him, in many different ways. Take good care.

  4. Anne Davenport says:

    What an inspiration you are! Thanks, Heather.

  5. Oh, Dr. Heather…thank you. Enough said. I look forward to being more enlightened.

  6. Awe! You are most welcome my dear Dr. Charity. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend at the Nonclinical Career Conference right here in Austin!!

  7. Gail Miller says:

    Heather, I’m so sorry for your loss. It takes such an emotional and physical toll. I’m sure that your dad is quite proud of you. Thank you for sharing. I know that for some it’s difficult to do that but it’s so helpful to read about others’ journeys, if you will. I think it helps us all and you are so inspiring! I can’t wait to read about phase II. As always I feel like I’ve learned so much from you!!

    • Gail, you and everyone else are giving me such great energy to go forward with. Thank you for taking the time (and it does take time to stop and write a comment) to send these lovely thoughts. I get much of my inspiration from you and everyone else taking courageous steps in their own journey. Back at you Gail, you inspire me as well and I learn from you. Keep on being you!

  8. Your vulnerability is very inspiring Heather, and greatly appreciated. The online world can feel so noisy and cluttered and it’s so refreshing to see a ‘real’ person behind a blog post! Sorry to hear about all that you were facing in your life.

    I look forward to hearing about making mistakes and a goat named Butters!

    • Thank you very much Sara! I am cheered on by your comments and am looking forward to sharing my mistakes, Butters the goat and some other things! I am enjoying your weekly newsletter. A big thank you to all you and your husband do to inform and support physicians.

  9. Chantal says:

    Hi Heather,
    Im saddened to hear of your loss. Weaping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Remember the happy times with your dad and hopefully that will put a smile on your face and help with the grieving process. Continue to meditate and stay connected to your true inner being. (I find the calm app 👍). Thanks for sharing it takes courage and also begins healing!. You are in my thoughts and prayers 🙏

    • I feel so touched by your most thoughtful words Chantal. I must say, today has been one I will never forget, with all of the beautiful messages I have received on and offline. My heart is very grateful and full. I’m sure my dad is reading all the comments too and is smiling his great smile (it was a big one!). Thank you for all of your kindness.

  10. Heather,

    I’m sorry about your Dad. I can relate. Both of my parents died within the past year, and I was also the “lucky” one to be the executor (still working through all of that).

    I’m truly inspired by what you’ve done and the new commitments you’ve made.

    I look forward to hearing all about your future progress.

    • Thanks so much John for being such a steadfast supporter of me and my work. I can’t imagine losing both of your parents in one year, my sincerest sympathies. I remember reading about your mom and was touched by the whole story. I’m impressed at how you’ve kept up your weekly podcast through all of this. They are really great and I recommend them to everyone. You are a big inspiration to me! See you soon this weekend at the conference.

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