Losing Your Joy?

A few weeks ago, I got a random call from a colleague on a Saturday morning (not one of my BFFs, just an acquaintance whom I keep in touch with).

When my phone rang, I noticed the name of the caller and assumed she wanted to get a quick ophthalmology consult.

What happened next really surprised me.

Sue jumped right in the conversation as soon as I answered the phone. “Uhm, hi there. I heard you wrote a book on burnout. And, I think I need some help. Do you have a minute?”

My polite self kicked in as she spoke, even though I was knee deep in laundry and minutes away from heading to the grocery store. My heart and my spirit softened as I listened to her share her concerns.

What followed was the same story I hear time and again. In fact, it sounds a lot like my own story from a couple years ago.

Sue is a successful doctor who appears to love her work and have it all together. Yet, behind her facade is the truth: She admitted that over the past few months, she didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone drive in to the office to see a boatload of patients.

If you are a physician working long days, I know you understand her pain.

We talked about how her usual self-care routines–taking a half-day off, spending time with her kids–no longer worked for her.

I knew a bit about how Sue worked. She goes full tilt. Always all in. I sensed it was time for a change.

I shared with her a solution I learned from the doctors I interviewed for my book Remedy for Burnout.

When I spoke to doctors who still love what they do, they all confided to me how important it is for doctors to control their own lives.

Because the truth is, we can’t control the insurance companies, or the pharmacology companies, or the people who walk through our doors.

But, we can take back a bit of control of our daily lives.

I asked Sue to think of the things in her life that she has power to control.

  • Could she take a different route to the office that would be more scenic?
  • Could she schedule time out of the office every other Friday, rather than work half a day, to give herself a true three-day weekend?
  • Could she finally schedule time to do something she truly enjoyed, such as teaching residents at the county hospital?

In short order, Sue had a plan. It wasn’t a total overhaul. It was a few turtle steps in the direction of her joy.

And that’s how change begins: One realization, one decision, and one small step at a time.

Are you losing your joy or do you know someone who is?

Please send your friend a copy of this or reach out to find out how we can work together to take a few turtle steps.

CATEGORIES: Blog on June 2, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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4 thoughts on “Losing Your Joy?

  1. Sue

    I am beyond burned out. 4 years ago I was a piece of charcoal on the ground and things have not improved. I work for a MSG that actively discourages us from taking time off. I have 1:3 call for ortho. I can’t control my schedule. I have no family here to spend time with. My fiance is 1200 miles from me. The clinic expects PERFECT or the visit is a failure yet they give pt satisfaction surverys to ER FU who I am only allowed to see once because the clinic does not accept their insurance. Because that is going to generate a perfect score. I can’t be perfect, no one can. There is no joy in medcine for me its just a pay check.

    1. Starla Fitch, M.D. Post author

      Dear Sue,
      Thank you for your honesty and reaching out to share your frustration with the system you are in. When you feel “shackles on” like you do in your work world, it is time to really look at what to do next. What can you do to change it? Would love to touch base if I can help. Sometimes change is hard. But life is short. You can schedule a free get-acquainted-call by going to http://www.lovemedicineagain.com and completing a short form under the Coaching heading. We’re all in this together. Blessings.

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