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Choose to Drive Your Own Life

burnout choice people-pleasing perfectionism problem solving Dec 10, 2022
Woman's legs running along a path near trees by David Reche of Pixabay

One of the things that I appreciated about my path to medical school was how prescribed it was. In high school, I could see very clearly that what I needed to do was perform well there, get into a good college, perform well there, and apply for medical school. Sure, there were choices here and there, but I could see the path, and I put myself on it and persisted.

Fast-forward to my years as an early Attending and Faculty Member. Here was another path, but I recall, even then, not feeling sure that it led where I wanted to go. I don’t think that I could have named where I wanted to go over the course of my career, but I know that I felt uncertain that the path before me was one that really resonated.

The thing was, that when I was on that path, I wasn’t really driving.

I was people-pleasing, accommodating, hard-working, perfectionist-ing. But I wasn’t driving.

I was allowing myself to be driven. I took a job in the organization where my residency was completed, and settled in. I added a teaching position in the residency faculty, and few other roles along the way, and things sometimes seemed fine. And often they didn’t. But I sure didn’t feel in control. I felt like I was being driven, programmed to be a good little worker, and a team player.

And when I became really unhappy, really burned out, and more vocal about my woes, I became a problem.

Until one day, after a devastating meeting about my toxic attitude. Actually, it wasn’t that day, but a few days later, when I sat in the office of another Physician, one who had left her employed position as a Vascular Surgeon to open up her own clinic, tired of having HER life driven by others. In her office, I cried. Yes, I was there about my varicose veins, but what she really helped me with that day, was telling me that I could drive.

This was literally a turning point in my journey. Until I sat with this woman, crying and sharing how miserable I was, how trapped I felt, I hadn’t realized that the majority of my problem was that I didn’t want to be driven. I wanted to drive.

And from that day on, I put my hands on the steering wheel, and got into gear.

For me, the journey has taken many different directions. I got an extra board-certification, I got certified as a coach, I opened an LLC, I resigned and cashed out my share to fund my business. I’ve started this blog, a podcast, a coaching practice and soon my own micro-practice within a private practice. 

But MOST importantly, I decided that I make the decisions about my life.

Whether you are employed, or in private practice with yourself or others, are YOU driving? Are you deciding, actively, how you are shaping your life and career? It’s not about being self-employed, although you could choose this. It’s not about leaving practice, though you could choose this too. It’s about taking the wheel, and deciding that you navigate the curves, that you determine your own guiding principles and rely on your own internal compass. You can seek advice or mentorship, but you won’t be driven by someone else anymore.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s given us an opportunity to experience tremendous uncertainty. The uncertainty was ALWAYS there, but many of us ignored that, thinking that our jobs were secure, that our pay couldn’t be cut, etc. But guess what? It just ain’t so. But rather than continuing to put your future in the hands of others, you can choose to steer your own ship. 

Sure, fear and doubt may join you on the ride, and there will be potholes and detours along the way. And yet, isn’t it time that you took the wheels?

Don’t ask permission. Give yourself permission, and drive.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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