About two years ago, I made a big career move — I took a leap of faith. I left full-time clinical practice as a neonatologist to become a national medical director for a neonatal resource team. The job was appealing because it was a new challenge for me. I had the opportunity to use my skill set as a neonatologist while learning the business aspect of medicine.
The job also provided a consistent schedule. This would allow me to better attend to my family. I’m going to be honest with you — we were struggling. My husband is a busy child psychiatrist, I was working 24-hour shifts, and our girls were 18 months and 4-years-old at the time. Needless to say, we required a lot of help and careful planning to make our life work.
Like most health care professionals, I missed weekends, holidays, first days of school, plays, parties, muffins for mom and the list goes on. I was missing my girls grow. My husband and I were coexisting. I was beginning to burn out. I knew I needed a change. But how do I justify giving up a career that took me 14 years to achieve?
After careful thinking, I found a way to continue my practice as a clinical neonatologist. I determined the amount of clinical time I would need to keep my skills fresh, and I committed to working those hours. When I took a step back from intense clinical practice, I was able to see the pace I was running at.
There were some unexpected things that happened with my job change. As a telecommuter, I work at home alone. This allowed much more time to think. I began doing daily self-analysis and realized that I had become emotionally drained with nothing left to give. I achieved great professional success but at what cost to myself and my family. Would I recover from this exhaustion?
I have always known myself to be an upbeat, positive and fun loving. But I was showing up tired, grumpy and irritable. I knew that I had a lot of work ahead of me. I needed to make a huge investment in myself. I needed to dig deep and uncover repressed emotions while showing self-love. Not an easy task, I quickly learned.
Where do you start? How do you pick up the pieces? It seems overwhelming right? After careful contemplation, I decided that the best place to start was just to start writing — every day. Have you ever read one of your previous journal entries and couldn’t believe that you actually wrote the entry? This is one reason that journaling is so powerful. You can actually watch the evolution of self-discovery.
So many different emotions were stirred in my journaling sessions. I discovered that I was angry to the core. But why? I had everything I could possibly want.
Finding the origin of the anger was not difficult, but dealing with the aftermath felt like a marathon. Months went by, and I continued to dwell. I could not seem to move on. I confided in a friend, and she suggested that I rewrite my story. So this is what I did. I rewrote my story in a way that relieved me from my victim role. I read the story over and over. I believed my story. I could literally feel my anger dissipate.
I discovered that it wasn’t a person or a situation that made me feel angry. The anger was generated from my own thoughts. When I reframed my thoughts, everything changed. We have the ability to change our thoughts in order to feel the desired emotion. I wanted to feel alive — high on life! What do I have to think to feel this?
This is what I know. We have the ability feel however we want. Our thoughts will control how we feel. Our brains want to take the easy way out and generate automatic negative thoughts, and our work is to create alternative self-serving thoughts. Imagine this: You can feel the best you ever have right now!
I challenge you to take a self-inventory. Do you need to make any changes? Have you been thinking about doing something different and new? Are you willing to take a risk? Jump in with your eyes wide open — take a leap of faith. I promise that your leap will open amazing opportunities and unlock the code to discovering you.
Alexandra Novitsky is a neonatologist.
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