How I'm Getting Unstuck – Phase I

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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.

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19 Comments

  1. Sylvie on April 2, 2019 at 11:57 am

    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.

    • Heather Fork on April 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      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. Eno Nsima-Obot MD on April 3, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    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.

    • Heather Fork on April 3, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      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. Pam Pappas on April 3, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    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.

    • Heather Fork on April 3, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      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 on April 3, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    What an inspiration you are! Thanks, Heather.

    • Heather Fork on April 3, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Anne! Such a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for reading the post and giving me a great boost to my morning. I hope you are doing really well.

  5. Lynette Charity MD on April 3, 2019 at 2:45 pm

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

  6. Heather Fork on April 3, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    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 on April 3, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    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!!

    • Heather Fork on April 3, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      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. Sara Taylor on April 3, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    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!

    • Heather on April 3, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      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.

      • Sara on April 3, 2019 at 10:09 pm

        You are so kind Heather! Thank you for your support and encouragement. It is greatly appreciated 😊

  9. Chantal on April 4, 2019 at 1:04 am

    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 🙏

    • Heather Fork on April 4, 2019 at 2:06 am

      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. John on April 4, 2019 at 11:58 am

    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.

    • Heather Fork on April 4, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      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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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
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"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