“What you think about me is none of my business.”
Saying these words is a piece of cake. But actually believing them is another story. One of the most common concerns my clients have is their fear of what family, friends and colleagues will think if they express unhappiness in their career.
“What? You don’t enjoy being a doctor anymore?”
“Did you just waste all that training you had?”
“What’s so bad about your job? Don’t doctors have it good?”
The truth is, when you are unhappy, what other people think shouldn’t get in the way of finding positive solutions.
But it often does.
Before you can even begin to figure out whether you just need a vacation, a new partner, less call, a non-clinical job or a new career, the worry of how others may respond can take over.
There may be a worry that if you acknowledge your dissatisfaction, you will have to do something about it, and that could mean disappointing others.
If you are seriously considering leaving clinical medicine, you may be dreading what your family will say. They may have paid for your education and their dream was for you to be a doctor.
You may want to leave your practice, but trying to figure out what to tell your partners has you paralyzed. How do you explain your change of heart?
Maybe you are wondering why you can’t be like your colleagues, who seem to be happy enough seeing patients. What’s wrong with you that you can’t find contentment in practicing medicine?
When I decided to leave my practice, I heard the whole range of responses, from upset and disbelief, to curiosity and encouragement. I think the decision was scary to some people, even though it had nothing to do with them. The other day a former patient called to tell me how I had inspired him to pursue a new direction, and now he was living his dream as an artist (this was news to me).
Ultimately, if you are not happy in your job, it becomes increasingly harder to function well. Much energy ends up being expended in surviving, as opposed to thriving.
When you decide to follow a different path:
You will receive a wide range of reactions. People are entitled to their responses, however they are not a statement about you.
If you can accept your feelings as valid and useful, it is much easier to move forward and start making positive changes.
You don’t need to know how your circumstances are going to improve, you only need to take the first step and let the process begin.
Know that nothing in your life is ever wasted. Your years of education, training, and professional work all contribute to who you are. Your unique abilities and interests are meant to be used in a way that is ultimately satisfying and fulfilling to you. It can be done.