Posted by Evgenia Galinskaya on 06 November, 2014
In my ‘previous life’ as a medical doctor, I somehow ‘knew’ it wasn’t my life’s work. And for someone who devoted 11 years of life to ‘helping others’ that’s a pretty scary realisation.
Many of my peers looked up to me in awe for getting (first time round) into one of the most competitive training programmes in the country. What they did not know was how embarrassed I was to admit to anyone, including myself, that I could not ‘see’ myself ever reaching a zenith of medical career by becoming Consultant or a GP. Retrospectively, I know that my success in medicine was attributable to my personality, dedication and relentless hard work, rather than any real passion.
My fear of “what others would think of me” if I didn’t conform to what is expected of a “well-progressing trainee” meant I was chasing and living someone else’s dream for some years. I was competent and distinguished by both my patients and colleagues, and would’ve never imagined that I could do anything else with my medical degree. My self-preservation blinkers were on and I continued ticking boxes and going through the motions of climbing the career ladder hoping that my silly thoughts would eventually disappear. This continued until I felt like I completely lost myself.
In a life-changing conversation with another ex-medic, I realised that it was time to stop trying to believe in what I do and start doing what I believe is right for me. I am frequently asked how I found an alternative career that makes me feel alive. The one thing that made the greatest difference was taking the time to find myself. Whether you want to figure out what your life’s work may be or you want to reignite a spark of motivation and enthusiasm in your existing career, you should dive deep into self-discovery and figure out what you are passionate about. I believe that when you love what you do, you do it better.
Here are my 10 thought-provoking questions the answers to which will enable you to reconnect with your passion. Pay attention to some common themes emerging – they will help you to connect the dots later, especially if you are pondering about your purpose in life.
1) What experiences/activities make you feel alive?
They make you feel good about yourself and the world around you. They make your heart smile. (I recommend that you think of 10-20 examples).
2) What activities/experiences enable you to be who you truly are?
During these moments, you are able to have a sense of serenity, peace and contentment.
3) What do you absolutely love learning about (something that for you doesn’t require much effort to memorise and implement)?
When you learn about <this>, you genuinely feel like you are growing. And you have a constant hunger to learn even more. You regularly invest time and money into events/courses/books and other resources on this subject, even when not required by your employer.
4) What do you find yourself doing at times when your mind wanders?
When your conscious mind is not focusing on another task, target or deadline, take a moment to acknowledge the connection with your subconscious mind. Deep within lie all the answers…
5) What would you gladly do any time of the day or night, regardless of how you feel, and without the need to be asked or reminded?
When you are passionate about something and utilise your talents and strengths, it seems effortless. You probably even wonder sometimes how others could struggle or dislike <this>.
6) What are you doing when you are fully engaged and can keep a focus for hours?
You can get so absorbed in matters, which you are passionate about, that other things seize to exist. Time flies when you are doing something that has a meaning and purpose to you.
7) If you figured out a way to get paid for <this>, it would be the best job in the world!
It wouldn’t feel like work at all, even if you had to do it with very few days off.
8) What do different people say that you are really good at, time and time again?
This question helps to assess what you are naturally good at (your talents). Talents and passion are inter-related.
9) What do people ask you to help them with and value your advice/opinion on?
When people sense that you are passionate about something, they will ‘see’ you as an expert in that area, hence it is useful to note what requests for help and advice you get time and time again.
10) If health and money were not an issue, and you had another 1000 years to live, what would you love to be doing? Really take some time to consider your answer to this question.
What common themes have you noticed within your answers? How much passion, energy and engagement do you feel for your current work?
Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981, philosopher and civil rights leader) once said: “Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”