We often associate our calling with our career. That’s what I did from the very moment I made that decision to become a doctor. That’s all I focused on. I studied for it. I invested time and money into it. Like many doctors, my identity was intimately woven in what it means to be a doctor. It’s who I became to the exclusion of everything else.
From the outside looking in, I was successful. But on the inside success wasn’t feeling very good. I felt let down. I was disillusioned. I couldn’t believe that I had spent almost ten years to get to that place only to be unfulfilled and emotionally exhausted working long hours in the high acuity setting of the neonatal ICU.
I see this same pattern emerging for other doctors. What do we to try and solve it? We begin to look for answers in all the wrong places. We look for the next opportunity believing that this one will be the one to change everything. Instead of learning how to define our own success, we start running from position to position, hoping for something better, only to realize that we may have just traded one set of challenges for another.
How do I know? I did that too. It wasn’t until I realized that I was the common denominator that things began to shift. I also had to accept that while I learned most of what I needed to learn about medicine in medical school and residency, there is still so much I needed to learn about life and what it takes to have a life and career that I love, one where I experience true success. That was not on the medical school or residency curriculum. Those skills and strategies I learned when I became a certified professional coach.
I figured out that to experience my true success, I had to do three things.
- Expand my focus
- Own my value
- Step boldly into my calling
I learned that becoming a doctor, or any career choice, is actually the vehicle by which my calling is expressed. It is part of who I am, but not all of who I am. When we don’t make this distinction, we get so attached to becoming a doctor and seeking perfection in the journey that we neglect the rest of our being. We ignore or push aside our innate gifts and talents that if we would only embrace them, they would make even more room for us. Instead, we continue to struggle to try to fit into someone else’s perception of what our career should look like, and as a result, we feel out of balance, frustrated, and stressed out.
Once I learned to step boldly into my calling, I felt relief. Once I understood that I was called to medicine because I wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives, the cloud lifted. There was more flow in my life. Everything became a learning experience, some hard and some easy. I was able to see that each of the challenges, the problems that I encountered in medicine, were actually the nudges pushing me into my next level, where solutions are found.
I am, we are, always being nudged to step boldly into our calling.
The lesson is that my true calling, my highest purpose is to be of service in medicine. It shows up in my role as a clinician. It shows up in my role as a life coach supporting families in NICU support groups. It shows up when I merge medicine and life coaching as I mentor, teach, and coach physicians and medical professions on their journey.
What is your calling? How are you being called to serve in medicine that transcends the outer trappings of being a doctor and speaks to your heart and soul?
Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.
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