Having It All & Walking Away
I would not consider myself a blogger, writer or a storyteller; in fact, I usually believe that I have nothing worth saying, especially about myself or the things I am doing. But this year, I have chosen a different approach, and decided to document an experiment to grow and shed self-imposed limitations.
Somewhere along the years I let cynicism and negativity settle into my soul. I am not even quite sure why. I have a good life, great family, a successful career (with awards to prove it), athletic accomplishments, and artwork reflecting my artistic talents and gifts.
Maybe a routine case of depression, or some might argue, a “very lengthy” mid-life crisis—but, whatever it was—my joy, creativity and drive had shriveled.
Externally, no one suspected the turmoil I had reached by December 2015 after returning from a lifetime trip to Europe and South Africa. I should have been ecstatic and invigorated. But instead, I found myself crying in my boss’ office and ready to quit. And, I was good at my job. But I did not have joy or passion.
A growing sense of dissatisfaction and restlessness settled in. The costs were exorbitant—my attitude, my health, my family, my moods—nothing happens in a vacuum, mind you—even if you cover up well. I blamed my weight, my job, my hours. And, as a doctor, there are plenty of good reasons to be burned out and angry. Even with the perfect job that I had created for myself, I wanted to quit. I started wishing for retirement. Yes, wishing 10-15 years would “just go by.” I wanted things to be easier instead of finding something better or being better—a better doctor, a better teacher, a better parent, a better spouse with better questions and better goals.
By December 2016, something had to give. I wasn’t quite sure how this would all play out, but I needed a massive overhaul to regain my sense of purpose, joy, and gratitude. I attended the Unbeatable Mind Summit in Encinitas, CA with Mark Divine…hesitantly. Assigned group exercises and discussions began to uncover roadblocks and barriers while reflection and introspection started making me uncomfortable—questions focused on who I had become, how I got there and who I wanted to be.
As I watched the featured speakers that weekend, including Jimmy Chin (National Geographic Photographer), Jesse Itzler (Entrepreneur), Ben Greenfield (Spartan Champion) and Kyle Maynard (Motivational Speaker/Athlete) share their pathways to success and breakthrough, reality set in.
Just to be clear…it is very hard to sit there and think your life sucks when you listen to Kyle Maynard, a quadruple congenital amputee, describe climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and pursuing his dreams. I was only seeing ceilings and excuses whereas he was shattering thru both. As the conference drew to a close, it was clear to me that I needed to explore other ways to practice medicine, to develop new habits in order to have a bigger impact on myself and others, and to get uncomfortable on every level of my being—physically, emotionally, mentally, intuitively, and spiritually.
I decided to take a year off and to walk away from the security and safety of the paycheck and a professional identity I so dearly loved.
This year was not going to be about ‘wishing’ for anything but rather, ‘doing’ everything. My goal would be to understand myself, my habits, my beliefs, my choices, and all my self-imposed limitations that had gotten me to where I am right now, both good and bad.
I was going to disrupt everything to explore just what I was capable of.
“Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better.”