Life After Medicine

Permission to follow your joy (I promise it’s not selfish!)

July 11, 2023 Chelsea Turgeon Season 1 Episode 109
Life After Medicine
Permission to follow your joy (I promise it’s not selfish!)
Show Notes Transcript

Are you tired of chasing temporary gratifications? For today's episode, I dive deep into the topic of following your joy and why it's so important for living a fulfilling life.

In this episode, I share my personal experience of how I used to think joy had to be earned, and how I eventually realized that joy comes from within and can't be achieved through external accomplishments.

You’ll learn:

  • The difference between JOY and HAPPINESS
  • How to start following your joy
  • Overcoming obstacles to following joy

Whether you're struggling to find joy in your current career or just looking for ways to bring more joy into your life, this episode is for you.

So sit back, relax, and let's explore the power of following your joy together.

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FREE downloads for if you are feeling lost or burnt out in your career:

Ready to create a joyful life and career? Here’s how I can support you through my online courses and coaching programs.

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September 30th, 2018, an entry from my journal and residency. I feel so defeated and profoundly miserable. I can't keep living like this, feeling like I'm being dragged along every day. I can't keep feeling so encumbered in misery. And dread all the time. I feel so trapped and powerless, like there's no way out of my own life. I just wanna scream or crumble, or both. Essentially, what I'm doing right now amounts to an overall miserable approach to life. I read this first and foremost because I want you to know if you're feeling like this, you are not alone. I felt this all the time in residency and I had this overwhelming gut feeling that medicine was not the path for me. And it's because I had all of these different longings. I longed to be outside more, to travel, to learn photography, and I kept dreaming about just packing up my car and driving into the deserts of Utah in the middle of the night to get a job as a park ranger. I wanted a career that I actually enjoyed, but I also had no idea what I could even do outside of clinical medicine. And because of that I felt so trapped. When you do the path of like undergrad and then med school and residency, it's all laid out for you. But if you are trying to escape and then transition out of medicine, there isn't as much of a clearer path. And that was daunting af. But finally I hit a point where I couldn't stand feeling like an empty shell anymore. I knew that something needed to change because the life I was living wasn't sustainable. And right when I was at my lowest, I was given this gift. My program director reached out to me and helped me take a five week leave of absence. From my residency program, and it was a gift I took full advantage of because I used that time to connect back to myself. I started to think through my values, my strengths, my interests, my purpose. I reconnected to my sense of passion, and I got clear. On how I wanted to serve the world, and I realized medicine wasn't the vehicle for doing that. And with all of that inner clarity, I finally felt relief. I didn't have to keep swirling around in this indecision picking these sad girl journal entries because I just finally knew what my next steps were. If this is you right now, if you're feeling stuck or trapped in the wrong career with just no real sense of how to get yourself out, pathway to purpose will be opening for enrollment this July. This will be a live eight week group coaching program. By the end of these eight weeks together, you will have clarity. Bahi moi on what you want for your life and career. And with that, you'll see how you can start helping others in a way that is personally meaningful and fulfilling, but also doesn't destroy your soul. And you'll develop a tangible plan and direction for your career. Identify next steps and start taking action and have this momentum towards this new path that is right for you. Time is almost up to enroll in this summer round of Pathway to Purpose. Enrollment ends July 15th, and we start Sunday, July 16th. So if you are interested in joining us, the time is now. Be sure to head to the link in the show notes that you can get more information and decide if joining us in Pathway to Purpose is right for you. Welcome to the Life After Medicine podcast. Where we help you create a fulfilling and non-traditional career as a healthcare worker. I'm your host, Chelsea Turin. In 2019, I left the hustle and grind of my ob gyn residency and set out to create a fulfilling career on my own terms. Now I'm a best-selling author, career and burnout coach and world traveler. Through this podcast, I'll show you how to enjoy your work. Make an impact and support yourself financially without all the stress and burnout you are currently experiencing. Let's get to the show. Hello, loves. Today we're doing permission to pivot. We're continuing the series. This is part five, so I've already done four other ones. If this is something that, maybe this is your first one, you can go back as long as you've signed up using the link, coach tells if you signed up through that. You should be getting emails with all of the replays. There should be a page that we are, putting them all together live. Also, if you're watching this on the Facebook group, which those of you live with me are then you can look in the Facebook group. We'll go ahead and pin all of them to the top so that you can have them in one easy place. And so today we are doing permission to follow your joy. And this is something that is one of my favorite things to teach inside of my programs because I didn't realize how stifled we were when it came to joy. And then when it comes to Marrying, connecting the ideas of joy and work. A lot of times we are, there's a sense of wait, what? How does the, how do those go together? Those don't seem to go together, and I love getting people to a place where they absolutely go together. Where of course, the work brings you joy and. You follow your joy to, to find work that you love and all of that. And so this is actually one of my favorite topics when it comes to career and really life, because joy is such a, it's like what most of us are after, right? One of the things we talk about in my pathway to purpose is most of us, we think that joy is what we earn. At once we arrive at the destination, once we achieve enough things, joy is there. What's waiting for us at the end, and I've talked about this before with the arrival fallacy. It's one of those things that we hold off at a distance because we need to earn it in some way. And joy is something that we are all after, but we don't think we can have it now. We think that joy comes from. Jumping through these hoops or completing these series of events or checking off these boxes in our career, but we don't feel the sense that joy in this really deep lasting way is available to us right now. So I would love to just start off with checking in with where you guys are right now on the topic of joy. So what is keeping you from following your joy? What are the different things that might be keeping you from following your joy? Sometimes with my clients, they feel like it's selfish, right? Like following my joy that feels really selfish. I have mouths to feed family to take care of bills, to pay all of that. What is this following my joy nonsense. Some people, it's like they're still burnt out. They're like, what is joy? I'm sorry, what is this word that you speak of? I don't even know this. This is not a concept that my body's familiar with right now, and so wherever you are, it's totally okay. But one of the first things that is really important to look at is what is keeping you from following your joy? What is keeping you from giving yourself permission? To follow your joy. Maybe it's the idea similar to it's selfish, maybe it's oh, that's hedonistic. I don't respect people who do that. I need to get that busy badge of honor. I need all these achievements on my list. I didn't come here to just, mess around and not be like accomplishing things, right? Joy is not gonna, what is that gonna do for me? So there might be all kinds of thoughts that you have around joy. And then another thought, maybe it's like, how does that. Lead to a career path or if I followed my joy, I couldn't make money. So maybe there's beliefs like that. But first and foremost, really taking a moment to sit with that. What is keeping me from following my joy? what are the associations that I'm making? Between joy and career, right? A lot of my clients are like, those don't go together. Those aren't the same thing. Those are totally different. There's, when people talk about work-life balance as if like sometimes you're working and sometimes you're living, and then that means when you're working, you're not living. I just, I don't even like that term because I don't want to chalk off or write off like eight hours of my day every day. To not be living. I want it all to be life. I want work to be life. I want relaxing to be life and leisure. To be life and all of that. So yeah. What keeps you from following your joy? I wrote a few notes, but I'm actually going pretty off the cuff. And one of the things I, I struggled with is the sense that I didn't one, I don't think I really knew how to follow joy. I was like I don't know what brings me joy? Cuz I was really a lot more concerned with even in college. High school, even under, like in, yeah, undergrad med school. I was always thinking about what should I be doing that will look good on my resume? What should I be doing that will get me into this next phase? What is gonna, what are the boxes I need to check? And so I didn't really have a sense of what brought me joy because I was never asking that question. When it came to my spare time and it just, it wasn't something that was important. The things that were important was like what I should do, what would get me in, what would be impressive to admissions officers. If admissions officers knew how much of my life they dictated, I let them dictate. Growing up it's just wild to think about the power that we allow them to have over our livelihood. And so I wasn't used to having that mindset of following my joy because I. That wasn't my priority. My priority wasn't to be happy. My priority was to succeed and to accomplish and to, get into this top choice residency and to, make something of myself. But when I really look at it, the reason I wanted all of those things was because I thought once I did those things, That I would feel joy, and not even necessarily joy, but I would thought that I would feel okay about myself. That finally this sort of low level unease that comes from just being a human in this uncertain world, that would be gone and that I'd finally feel okay, and then maybe I could seek joy. But I didn't think that I was allowed to feel joy in and of itself. I thought it had to be earned somehow, oh, I could feel joy after I did really well on a test. Because then, I deserve it and then I'm celebrating and that's great. Or I can feel joy, once I get into the residency that I want to, we can celebrate those things, but I felt like joy was really attached to accomplishments and it had to be earned. So I'd love to know if this is resonating with you guys, if this is a mentality that you are familiar with, if this is something you've experienced as well. We think that joy is something that is earned at the end of a destination, at the end of all of our hard work, and one of my favorite quotes around this is by Tik Han, who is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, and he says, there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So it's like everything we think we know is really turned on its head. We think there's a way to happiness and that way is achieve, accomplish checkbox, impress this person, do this thing. And then we get to the joy, the beacon of joy at the end. Yay. But then we get there and maybe it works. But maybe it's really transient and maybe all the things we sacrificed in order to get there made it not really worth it after all. And then we don't feel like it's sustainable because then we gotta keep achieving it, keep doing this treadmill of achievement just to maintain the joy. And it's like, how do you even do that? So there's no way to happiness. What's true is happiness is the way. Meaning when we start with joy and follow joy, those are the little breadcrumbs that lead us to where we're supposed to be. And before I go any further, what I really wanna do is distinguish joy versus happiness. cuz I think this is an important distinction. When I say joy, I'm not talking about. That short term hedonistic like happiness. So I'll give you an example just to make it really concrete. Joy versus happiness. So when I think of drinking that can make me happy. There's a, there's a moment where it's like dull in my senses enough and I'm feeling that buzz in that first 20 minutes and I feel happy, right? For 20 minutes, but I don't feel joyful, right? So we play the whole tape forward and maybe I have one or two and I am hung over the next day. Or maybe not even one or two, but I just go down and I feel just a crash that happens after you drink alcohol. You feel your nervous system racing after you drink alcohol. And it's not a pleasant experience the whole way through. So it's not lasting, it's not sustainable, it's not real joy. It's this like falsified happiness that can occur, but then it's transient because it goes away and it's not all the way through. So that's maybe one distinction that could be helpful is happiness is much more transient. It's much more condition based. And it can, yeah, it can easy come, easy go with happiness. And I think of it as, More superficial in a sense. Not that there's anything wrong with happiness but I think of it as more superficial. Like maybe it's like gratifying your ego in some way. And it can feel good, but it's not, there's not a depth to it. And so when I think of joy, it's like deeper, like in your soul and it's underlying it's all throughout the activity, right? So as I go on a hike, I did this morning actually as I go on a hike. I'm going up the hill and I'm sweating and it's hard, and I'm like out of breath. And every time I go on a hike, I realize I need to be more in shape, but I still never get in shape between hikes. You feel this and you're like, oh, I'm out of breath and I'm exhausted and I'm not like super duper happy, but then I like look behind me and I see the view and I remember him in nature. And so there is a joy that permeates the entire activity, even if not all of it is. Superficial happiness. It could be different for each of us, but I think the main distinction to make is that, Happiness is more, like chasing gratifications, chasing these short term gratifications. Whereas joy is this deeper sense of you're feeling more lit up, you're feeling expansive, you're feeling open and it's really lasting and it's sustainable and it's not so up and down. It's just there and reliable and underneath it all. And so that's the difference I think between joy and happiness because I've seen people chase happiness and follow happiness, and it looks different than following joy. So I've met people while traveling who are like semi-retired, sold a business, actually dated a guy who did this. He like sold his business and didn't have to work. And so he would just wake up and be like, what feels fun today? And I just, he was, he said he is happy, but I looked at his life and I was like, this looks empty. Because there's no purpose. There's no meaning. There's just these temporary, transient little happiness moments, right? His life is cool, but it's not like there's nothing deeper. There's not substance to it. He's chasing happiness and he is, going on these fun adventures all around the world. But I, I feel like there's not joy there. Maybe he's experiencing that. I'm not sure. For me, joy is deeper because it's also leading to a sense of contribution. Not always, not every single thing that brings you joy has to lead to contribution. But usually when you're following that deeper joy, it's not just the superficial gratification your you are contributing something. When you're really doing the things, following the things, being the things that are bringing you a deeper sense of joy, there's a contribution that tends to happen as well. So for me, community brings me joy. I love community. It doesn't just make me happy, it's joy. It's this deeper thing. And so during C O V I D, I created what I called a sister circle where I brought four women plus me. So there was five of us. I brought us together and I was like, okay guys, we're gonna connect every Thursday and we are gonna talk about our feelings for an hour and a half. For two and a half years. And I was following my joy cuz I wanted to be around people who were also inspiring, who were also doing entrepreneurship and who were growth-minded. And I wanted to be around these people. And so I felt like that would be a joyful experience. And it also created this group and this contribution to everyone else cuz everyone else's lives were positively impacted by that. Everyone in the circle we, lifted each other up and we helped each other through so many different things. And. That's joy because there's also this contribution to it, right? And that wasn't like a monetary contribution, it's just adding value to other people's lives. When I follow my joy of psychology and of writing, and of podcasting and interviewing and just talking about the human mind and potential and all of these things, when I'm following these threads, this is helping people, right? There's contribution there as well. And so I feel that is the difference. One of the differences between joy and happiness, and again, happiness is not wrong, but when I talk about joy, I want you to realize that I'm talking about it from a much deeper level than follow, chase all the shiny pennies, chase all the little gratifications, and do all the little things you wanna do. It's really not that it's really more like checking in with. Your soul and being like, is this thing I wanna do? Does this help me all the way around? Is this gonna feel some level of pleasant all the way around? And so it's really following. The joy is much deeper and much different than following happiness. And so if you're thinking, that hedonistic that's selfish, as you can tell. Maybe chasing happiness is those things. But chasing, I don't even like chasing cuz it's not chasing, following joy is not selfish. Because it leads to some level of contribution following Joy is not hedonistic because it's not about the momentary pleasures. It's about this deeper sense of this expands me and this lights me up. And so when you think of it in that way, I think it's a lot easier to give yourself permission to follow your joy, right? Because then you're able to see it's not me just doing these little temporary highs and these instant gratifications, that's not what I'm doing. What I'm doing is following these poles towards something greater, towards something more. And if you're watching me, I know you experience that because that's why you're here. You're feeling this sense, like there could be something more here for me. And I really do believe that within all of us, we all have something that we enjoy. And that joy is trying to bring us towards it. It's trying to pull us towards it so that we can spend more time doing that thing. Because in that thing we can add value to the world and it's like it's our value to add, it's our gifts to give. And when we are not giving these and adding this value in this way and being this person and following this joy, we are worse off. And everyone else around us is worse off. So when I say it this way, I don't like to say we have moral obligations, but in some ways it is our moral obligation to follow our joy because it's in that space that we start to develop the ways that we can best contribute. And again, not every thing that. Not every moment that follow you're following your joy is directly monetarily tied. But it's more about allowing yourself to use joy as your compass as opposed to telling yourself this is supposed to suck because this is residency, or this is supposed to suck because it's my first year working full-time, or This is supposed to suck for these reasons, and. I'm not supposed to enjoy this. I'm not supposed to feel any certain way about it. And when we do this, we essentially cut ourselves off from the possibility of joy and we put joy off in the future. And we say it's something you get to experience down the road, but not right now. And then we cut off this natural compass that we have that's trying to lead us where we're meant to go. Because I believe by following this joy and following these longings and following these pulls, that we get to the place where we're meant to go. We're helping the people that we're meant to help. We become the person we're meant to be, but we can't know what that is until we start to follow our joy. And What is it? I asked this at the beginning, but I wanna circle back to it. Knowing what you know now, what is keeping you from following your joy? Maybe you're scared. Joy is a vulnerable emotion. I was talking to a client the other day who was like things actually feel good right now, and it freaks me out because, thinking the other shoe's gonna drop because she had been in this fight or flight survival mode for so long, trying to get through her training. And then she finally got to a job where it actually feels okay and she's freaked out by it because joy feels really vulnerable cuz it feels like at any moment you're open to catastrophe. So there's that, right? There's that sense of oh, this is weird. There's also a fear of I didn't earn it. Maybe I haven't done enough to deserve this joy. And so there's this hustle culture mentality too that keeps us from really just basking in the joy or thinking that. This joy is not productive enough, right? It's not really leading enough to something. So there's so many things that keep us from following the joy, and when I say follow the joy, there's this deeper underlying sense of joy throughout. That doesn't mean every moment you're gonna feel like giddy or happy or light or laughter, right? It doesn't mean every moment is gonna feel quote unquote positive, but it means that underneath it all, you have this deep sense that you're in the right place. You feel this sense of expansion, of openness, that you're lit up, that there's interest and curiosity in the things that you're doing, and so that's what I'm talking about. When I say follow your joy. And so what I want to invite you guys to do is one, look at, look at all the things that are keeping you from doing it, and then ask yourself like, what would it take for me to give myself permission to follow my joy and maybe start in small ways, right? You don't have to start by like dropping your whole career and leaving everything and. Going off on a, I don't know, camper van trip somewhere. Maybe it's just in one afternoon when you normally would've been working or, feeling guilty about not working or something like that. You just choose one thing this week to bring you more joy. So whatever your version of that is, how can you follow your joy in small everyday ways, but then also in bigger ways too. So when you really look at your, the whole like trajectory of your life and you feel this sense of What do I really wanna be doing? What would I love to be doing if someone could just pay me to do this? Like, how cool would that be? When we can get into these pieces, the bigger pieces of what would really bring me joy on a day in, day out kind of basis? That's where I really wanna get you guys to and really get you to questioning. And this is just. One small piece of the work that we do, cuz I know when I say follow your joy, that's not necessarily gonna be super tangible because you might feel this sense of Okay, but how do I know? And these are all things that I teach you guys to pay attention to all the different signs and symbols of joy and really going through that process. I teach you guys that throughout the program. And so it's like following that and. Yeah. And what could that bring you and who does that let you become? And so I'll tell you like just a quick example from me. Before I was seriously entertaining the idea of leaving residency, one thing I did love, I loved hiking. And the reason I started hiking really was for my dog wasn't cuz I like, Initially loved it, but I was like, I need to be a better dog mom. I had dog mom guilt, and then I started taking him hiking and then I loved it and I was like, wait, people, this is a whole lifestyle. I love hiking. And then I just started going more and more on these solo hiking trips. Then I decided to go on a solo camping trip, and every time I did it, I was scared. And then I went on a whole like vacation by myself for one whole week hiking through Shenandoah National Park. And there was like black bears and I was like facing my fears and camping and all of these things. And it's each time I did this, it built up my confidence more and it built up my self trust in my self-efficacy. And I started to change my relationship to fear. And all of these things started to happen that were unintended consequences of me just following my joy. That by the time I was like, you know what? I wanna leave residency. I felt confident enough in myself. I felt capable and competent. I felt like this deep sense of I got this. Whereas if I hadn't started doing those things, I don't know if I would've felt as brave or as courageous. And so it's like following what I loved in that context. What that do did was that helped me to develop myself to then become someone who was ready. To then keep following what I loved. And it also started to ignite these other passions in me of being outside. I started to be like, oh, nature's beautiful. I wanna photograph it. So I started to, play around with photography, and then I wanted to hike in more places around the world. So then I started getting interested in traveling. And so it's like you never know what one love can start to spark or what one joy can start to spark within your life. And so it is by following our joy, I believe that we become the person we're meant to be. And so that is what I wanna challenge you guys to do today. And if this is something that you're interested in learning more of, and if you want to spend more time, Really learning how to follow your joy and really being held more accountable to following this joy. I would love to invite you to join us in Pathway to Purpose. So this is an eight week group coaching program that is coming up very soon. We start July 9th, and if you're in this place where you're like, you know what? I tried the other way. I tried the way where I achieved my way to joy, where I thought there was a way to happiness. I tried that and it's not working, and if you're ready to be, if you're done settling for that unhappiness, you're done. Really going through that achievement treadmill and trying to just hustle that your way to joy and your way to peace and your way to feeling good. If you realize, you know what, that's not working. Let me try another way. And if you want to find a career you enjoy and to look forward to your day. Yeah. And not just because of your career, but because of your whole life outside of that, right? It's like it's not, the career is just part of it, and then everything else is so fulfilling as well. So if you want to start pursuing a career filled with do, if you wanna give yourself permission to stop settling for unhappiness, and if you really are starting to see that, it is, when you follow your joy, you get to make the biggest impact on others. Martyrdom is not the way martyrdom is out. Martyrdoms like two. So 2007 we're done. Or pre covid, right? We don't do martyrdom anymore. It doesn't work long-term. It's not a long-term strategy to helping people because you burn out. But what is a long-term strategy towards helping people is doing it through your own personal joy. Cuz when you help people through your joy, through your gifts, Through like that zone of genius, that is what is really sustainable. And so that is the work we do together in pathway to purpose. So if you're in this place where you're like, I don't know what that is, right? We're gonna get you to a place of clarity. You're gonna have clarity on what it is you wanna be doing, and you're gonna have your action plan, you're gonna have your next right steps, your tangible plan for a career path that will bring you joy. And it's not like that's the stuff you get, right? That's great. And you have that as your outcome. And that happens as long as you show up and you follow the process, you're gonna have that. But what's even more than that is the way you start to change the way you think about everything. You start to feel differently about yourself from the inside out, you start to see your own possibility and potential on an even bigger scale. You are surrounded by community guys. I have the most amazing clients and the most incredible people who join my programs. And when you're surrounded by that energy and you feel that sense of comradery and support and that sense of I belong here, that is healing in and of itself. And that changes you. So if you are. I'm just done with the suffering, and if you're really ready to move into a lighter, more joyful, more peaceful phase, and I just wanna thank you for joining me and for trusting me with your time. I know that your time is so valuable and so limited, especially as busy healthcare professional. So I just wanna give you a big heartfelt thank you. For being here with me and just feel free to reach out and let me know if this was helpful for you, if this is something that maybe changed some of the way you're thinking about it. And then if you're interested in learning more about Pathway to Purpose, feel free to reach out to me as well. So have a wonderful rest of your day and thank you guys again for joining me. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Life After Medicine Podcast. Make sure to leave a review and subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. If you wanna continue the conversation, share your takeaways, and connect with other like-minded healthcare workers, then come join us in the Life After Medicine Facebook group. The link to join the group is in the show notes. I can't wait to connect with you further.