Is your career stuck in a rut?

If something doesn’t feel right about your career; if you are not enjoying your work; if you constantly think about how to get out; if your health is suffering due to work, or if you feel everything is not in balance, it’s quite likely that things are not in a sustainable place and that something will give, at some point or other.

I regularly meet doctors who can clearly do the job and do it well, but when we discuss things in more detail, it becomes clear that a particular question needs to be asked, and that is “at what cost to you?”

In other words, they can hold down the job and function well to everyone else’s satisfaction but for some reason, they are achieving this at a great personal cost. As a result they usually have a nagging doubt or prevarication over the two extreme points of view, one being “I am doing a good job and know I can do the job” versus “but I am not feeling that things are right”.

Oscillating between these two viewpoints can go on for years, and the sad thing is that sometimes by the time I get to put these GPs through a career programme, they have lost so much ‘va va voom’ that we are picking up pieces, conducting normalisation and de-stressing activities well before we can get on to any productive career planning.

So why don’t people come for career guidance earlier? The main reasons are that they

  • did not realise the above was happening.
  • are frightened of facing the reality in case it means they “have” to take steps that they or other people might not be at ease with.
  • think that by somehow hanging on in there the issue will go away.
  • think they “should” be able to cope and don’t want to admit that something is wrong.
  • don’t know where to start or where to go for help.
  • don’t think that career guidance or career planning support can help.
  • have spent so long and so much energy in the oscillation phase that they lack the drive to do anything about it, or have become ill.

The important point to note is that just because one particular role or location is causing problems, it doesn’t always mean that a radical career reroute is needed. However what is needed in such situations, urgently at times, is a radical rethink of how the person and their work interact, and a subsequent plan for getting things back on course. This can be really hard to do entirely on one’s own.

I think this can sometimes (not always, depends on the appraiser perhaps) be broached in appraisals or by approaching the deanery, but if doing so has not resulted in any real progress or proper acknowledgement of the problem, please don’t delay in getting in touch with me.

First published in the December edition of The Sessional GP

1 Response

  1. The real question is - Is being approved of/loved by others a more powerful a motivator than approving of/loving yourself.

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