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Gaining Clarity In Your Career

Aug 28, 2023

Recently I had a chance to catch up with my long-time childhood friend. Let us call her Pauline. Pauline has been practicing medicine in Hong Kong for over ten years. We actually had to reschedule our meet up because she had to do two last-minute procedures.

Pauline works 6.5 days a week. In reality, if you take into account of all the work-related phone calls she gets, she is working more like 6.75 days a week.

It is not surprising that Pauline is beyond burnout. She is barely making it to work, to be functional. She is a great physician and many of her patients love her. I cannot imagine myself working like she does.

I asked what she wanted in her career. Her initial answer was “I don’t know”. She knew she did not want to work 6.5 days a week. She knew she wanted her day (or half day) off to be really off from work. She even told me that, financially, she did not have to work so many hours.

Do you know what you want in your career? Are you clear on your goals?

If you are not clear on what you want, no one is going to tell you; if they did, it would be someone else’s goals, not your own.

The good news is you get to be as clear about your career as you want to be. It starts with a choice, a decision that you want clarity. It sounds simple, yet many people do not realize you yourself is the one to do it. Clarity does not come for you to passively receive it. You create it actively.

Spend some time alone and ask yourself what you really want in your career. Tell yourself that you will find an answer instead of being confused or not knowing what you want. Think about what your values are and what you enjoy doing.

Think about why you are working at your job. Whenever you feel stuck at your job, realize that there is always a choice of quitting it. You may not like that alternative, but that is still a choice. So why do you choose to stay at your position in this season of your life?

Write down your career goals. The more specific you are, the more clarity you will gain. As physicians, are you looking for a higher academic position, such as becoming a professor? Are you aiming for a specific range of income? Are you focusing more on fulfillment at work from patient care?

Once you write down what you want in your career, set your priorities. Work on one main goal at a time, otherwise it will be easy to get distracted. Within that one goal, it is helpful to set that long-term goal, then shorten it to say, a three-year goal, a one-year goal, a monthly goal and so forth. Goals which are more tangible and reachable will help with motivating you to achieve them. The more specific goals you have, the more goals you achieve will help you define and refine what you really want in your career.

Besides writing down your goals, do things that may help you gain clarity. For example, allot some time each day to meditate. Or exercise. Or take a stroll.

Minimize distractions. Writing out your goals will give you clarity in your career. It will also point out things which are not in alignment with your set goals.

Your goals in your career may change from time to time. It is important to always revisit your goals, review them and see if you want to revise them. The more clarity you have the easier it is to do this.

Asking for help may also increase the clarity in your career. Talk to a mentor, or someone who is slightly ahead of where you want to be. Find a coach who can help you by shedding light on what you really want, reflecting your thoughts and giving you support especially when it is not a popular career choice.

Having clarity in your career gives you a direction to go. It sets a purpose. You get to choose a career path that is in alignment with your values.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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