Why do we continue to suffer under the yoke of learned helplessness?
If you’re unhappy in your career, it will take an act of bravery to set you on a better path. I had to learn this the hard way.
For folks in medicine, there are many clinics and organizations that are doing things better (or trying to). We try to highlight these on the show, and they represent an opportunity for you to find a meaningful path even if you feel trapped where you are. Are you willing to take risk to find happiness and meaning?
You know the most common question I get asked by doctors is “What did you do “to get out of the system? “How did you escape? “Because I’m still slogging away “in a job that feels like a job that I hate “and here you are like making videos “and going around the country talking “and doing stuff, what’s the secret man, “like how’d you do this?”
You know in the early days I used to feel really bad about that because I did feel like I had somehow pulled a fast one on everybody. Like I was there 10 years in the trenches, full time hospital medicine and it was great and then it wasn’t, and when it wasn’t it was so bad that I couldn’t see a future. Like I couldn’t see past the next month and people were talking about retiring at 65 and they were buying fancy wine and cars to try to feel some sense of satisfaction when deep down I knew that the reason I was so unhappy is that the one thing that matters, that we have the most limited amount of is our time and we’re giving it to a system that doesn’t care about life at all. It doesn’t care about us. It doesn’t really care about our patients.
It’s evolved now, no one’s fault, it’s evolved now to care about one thing and that’s money. And we were the type of kids you know when we saw like a squirrel on the ground that was injured we would try to help it and instead we’re waking up going “I don’t feel anything anymore, “like I don’t feel anything for my patients. “I don’t feel anything for my colleagues. “I’m starting not to feel anything for my family. “What is wrong?” right, and that system took it from us because it turned a beautiful healing tradition into a commodity.
And I think at the heart of it we all know this, we all know this, when I go out and speak and afterwards people come talk to me you can see it in their eyes that they know this that that’s the message that they got, that this system does not deserve us. And so what I tell people now is this, the scariest thing you’ll ever do is to realize that you can do better with your time than give it to them, that if your health system or your hospital or your clinic or whatever it is that you’re working with treats you like a commodity and doesn’t let you care for people and yourself then you should walk away.
And you may go, “Well then what will I do? “I have these golden handcuffs, I have a mortgage.” None of that matters. Be honest with yourself. That’s all a proxy for your own suffering and unhappiness. What matters is you find a place to give your time and passion and purpose to and reconnect with it, and those places exist. They do, I found one, and you can find one too.
And you know what? they’re lying to you if they say you don’t exist and that you’re already in it because you know, you know.
So this is what I tell people, wake up. If you’re unhappy take that risk that feels so big at the time, but now with 10 years of hindsight, I started this in 2010 you guys. With 10 years of hindsight I can say like it was the most crucial, most important decision I ever made was to leave all that security and expectation behind and go and find a way to do what it is that I was put here to do.
And deep down you know what that is. Go find it. Take the time and effort and all that hard work that you’re so good at and put it into that and you will be so much happier. And it’s not just about you, it’s about everybody around you who’s going to benefit from that. Just ask my family. So guys that’s all I can say and I just hope you share this video and take it seriously because this is honestly the main thing I’ve learned in the last 10 years, all right.
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