Right career – wrong career plan

We use all manner of deceptions on ourselves to avoid dealing with things we know we should do. I am ashamed to say that I am terrible with tax returns and generally do them the week before the deadline. However I need no encouragement to go for a healthy walk, and often walks becomes more and more attractive as the tax deadline approaches. Others may find it hard to do exercise but enjoy their tax returns!

Careers are no exception and its easy to hide dissatisfaction, sometimes for years.

Some people face the reality, and indeed accept the reality, of the day-to-day challenges of clinical practice with calm and equanimity, and others struggle with feelings and thoughts such as “Am I happy doing this?”; “Is this what i should be doing?”; “Would i be happier doing something else?”.

Why might we want to avoid admitting that work isn’t what we had hoped for?

  • We might let relatives or colleagues down by confessing.
  • We might feel that by doing so we write off the years we have put in already; was it all a waste?
  • Does it mean we are a failure?
  • We might have to do something about it - but what?

Now to the methods we use to avoid facing up to reality:

  • Distractions.
  • Excuses.
  • Burying and denial.
  • Habits.
  • Addictions.

You can see that there is potentially a complex web of subterfuge and concern, fear and paralysis that can overcome any of us when dealing with career issues.

What I am trying to get at here is that there are umpteen reasons for possibly needing a career reevaluation, and umpteen ways of fooling ourselves, that we don’t really need one.

The something wrong can be a myriad of things, a few of which are

  • a genuine mismatch that hadn’t been obvious or hadn’t been faced before.
  • a lifestyle issue where work-life balance requirements have changed.
  • the person has changed.
  • the job has changed.
  • health has not remained 100%.
  • a dream has yet to be fulfilled.
  • a personality clash with a co-worker.
  • a relocation issue.

What I am trying to get at here is that there are umpteen reasons for possibly needing a career reevaluation and umpteen ways of fooling ourselves that we don’t really need one. Therein lies the problem as these things left to fester rarely improve.

What I am trying to get at here is that there are umpteen reasons for possibly needing a career reevaluation and umpteen ways of fooling ourselves that we don’t really need one.

What I would love to see is doctors of all ages regularly reevaluating their career pathway rather than leaving it for years or even decades, or until a crisis arises. If the assumption at medical school was not the “choose your route and get on with it” but more “your career is a vehicle within which you move through life; it can help or hinder your life goals, so it is as well to reevaluate it regularly”, it might seem less of a big deal to address career concerns as they crop up. In short, a massive culture change.

How can this be inculcated in young doctors? By the older ones leading by example.

So, when did you last reevaluate your career? I don’t mean an appraisal. I mean a real deep steam-clean of the career red carpet.

Sonia Hutton-Taylor

Dr Sonia Hutton-Taylor is the founder of Medical Forum Career Management and the author of an ebook Easy career change - good career choice.

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