Career pivot and change – the backstory

12/7/2016 with edits

My official last day of work as a full time physician is in 15 days! (Ahhh, so excited!)

How did I get to this point?

I definitely did NOT just decide on a whim to quit my job and travel to SE Asia for a couple of months.  I have many awesome and kickass traits, but risk-taking is definitely not one of them.

There are oodles of reasons why I’m leaving medicine but the nitty gritty analysis will be in a separate blog post(s).

Shifting out of my career first became a serious thought back in February 2015.  But to what? I started where most of us start when we don’t have an answer–I googled ‘how to find your passion’.  Of course, I had zero expectations that my search would yield anything significant.  

I was a wrong. After a bit of research, I found a quiz aimed at defining your ideal relationship between passion and career.

Passion, or the absence of it

Let me stop right here. I did NOT have a known passion at the time I started this journey. I currently STILL do not have a calling nor interest that would qualify as a ‘passion’. 

It’s easy to get resentful of this word because its literally the exact question that everyone and their mom asks you when you say you are unhappy with your job/career.

If you don’t automatically have a passion, it’s not that easy to find one but it’s no reason to stick with the status quo either.  Finding the passion profile quiz led me to an online community-based program called Clarity on Fire, geared towards finding your passion.

That program helped me realize that I seriously wasn’t a big fan of my career. And it led me to hiring a career coach which was the first big step in changing my life.

Coaching was hard! I didn’t realize how connected my identity and career had become. How could I have let a job that never resonated with me define who I was? Well, I had and now it was time to sever that attachment.

peace yourself, Emerson

My coach helped me challenge the notion that I didn’t have any other skills or talents besides doctoring. She helped me to debunk the limiting belief that I wasn’t creative. And she pointed out that my lifelong poetry writing hobby is proof of that. 

Over several phone sessions, I gradually became more and more certain that I wanted to leave medicine in the dust and more importantly, I gave myself permission to do so.

Figuring out what career is next

I started conducting informational interviews with people in my extended network–friends of friends and associates of former classmates and colleagues.

This was amazing for figuring out the ins and outs of jobs that I previously had no clue about: medical marketing, scientific data analysis, medical advertising, pharmaceutical director positions, healthcare consulting, and health tech startups.

As you can see, I started with the common jobs that doctors turn to when they pivot away from traditional medicine.  After super in-depth conversations with people in each of the jobs, it was obvious that none of these were a good fit for me.  With the exception of health tech startups, none of these jobs really had the creativity I wanted.

Quote, Foer, bones, straining

The Low Point, and getting back on track

At this point (now fall of 2015), things took a downturn in my personal life, which I’ve discussed in another post.

But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, or some crap like that. In February and March of 2016, I came up with a timetable and a financial plan to make my dream of quitting come to fruition.

And then I followed it! My financial plan warrants its own discussion. I’m still nervous to leave behind a steady paycheck but I’m infinitely more excited about the experience and opportunity I’m gaining.

And so the countdown to Thailand continues . . .

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