Not too long ago, a circumstance occurred. I had experienced similar circumstances several times in my career. However, this time - my response was different. It was like a switch in my brain flipped: I was ready leave clinical medicine. It was time for the next chapter.
Wow! It was a moment of surprise.
Relief. Excitement. Quickly followed by a 'WTF?' Where was this thought coming from? There was no 'maybe I should consider a change'?
I was so sure that I was ready to leave that I was concerned. What was happening?
I had never before said to myself, let alone others, that I was ready to leave clinical medicine. Sure, I had joked with colleagues on bad days. We had brainstormed (in a very cynical way) what else we could do with our medical degree. But I was never serious. Or was I?
In this moment, I was very confident that there were several opportunities for me. When I allowed myself the opportunity to take a minute and listen to my soul, I knew what I wanted and how to get there.
I was ready. I was qualified. I felt the passion. I began the process to write my next chapter.
I began the process to write my next chapter. (Credit: Unsplash)
But then came the fear. My brain offered up all kinds of worst-case scenarios involving failing in one way or another. Failure. Slam on the breaks! RED ALERT. Having been immersed in healthcare for over 20 years, failure was not an option. I had been avoiding failure for as long as I can remember.
Growing up in competitive figure skating, failure was not looked upon kindly. Then there was the dream of becoming a doctor. The need for top grades in college. MCATs. Medical school. Residency. Fellowship. Attending. Failure would mean not being able to obtain my dream. In medical school, failure could mean not finishing. Look right, look left, someone will likely not be here at the end of this year. As I moved on to treating patients, failure could lead to adverse outcomes or even death.
So yeah, thoughts of failure immediately sent me into a sympathetic response. FLIGHT.
Flight. I knew how to deal with flight. In retrospect, I had spent a lot of the last 20 years in flight. Flight was much more comfortable for me than any thought of failure.
"The risk of failure is too high if I leave", I thought. "I am an oncologist. I treat patients with
cancer. That is what I do. I just need to tweak things a bit." I had worked so hard to become an oncologist. I had sacrificed so much. I could not leave.
Then there were the golden handcuffs.
I had a great job, and I was financially secure. All the reasons my brain offered up to stay. So much easier to consider than any possibility of failure. Decision made. I was staying. But I was making the decision to stay each day from a place of empowerment. Or at least that is what I told myself and firmly believed. For a while, at least!
And then there were the golden handcuffs. (Credit: Unsplash)