I recently spoke to a young doctor who was having some difficulty deciding what was next after his hospital rotations. In a panic he had applied to about five different job opportunities that had nothing in common except that they were all medical posts. They were in different specialities and each of the job opportunities would take him down a path that was very different from the others.

I asked him what he would do if he was accepted in all five jobs and he looked at me quite nonplussed. You see he was hoping that rather than him having to choose which path he wanted to go down, the choice would somehow be made for him. He was hoping that getting a positive response from one of those job applications would be evidence that he should go down that path. He was not reckoning with the real possibility of getting interviews for all five jobs. Bottom line was he had to make a choice

Throughout your career as a doctor you will have to make those difficult choices. Do I apply for this post or stay where I am? Do I go with my head or with my heart? Personally, I don’t think the answer to this latter question is an either or. It has to be a combination of both

A question I often ask my clients in a coaching session is this: ‘what do you really, really want?’ It is a simple question but can be quite profound in the way it makes them think about what really is at stake. If there were no limitations – in terms of skill, money or time, what would your choice be

This is always a good place to start because it reveals what you really want deep down on the inside. And that is really important because you will only flourish and have success in a career if your heart is in it. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder said this: The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. He was right.

The next question to ask yourself is this: ‘if I go with what my heart really wants, what might I have to give up and what compromises might I have to make?’ This is where your head comes in. Examine the pros and cons – especially the cons before you make your decision. If you are comfortable with what your decision will cost you or the compromises that you might be required to make, then you are good to go. You will be allowing your heart to lead you, but with the knowledge (head) that there is a price to pay and that you are willing to pay that price.

Finally, talk your decision over with the people that matter in your life – partners, parents, mentors or children if they are old enough to understand. This is helpful because they may be able to see aspects of your choice that you have not considered. Be firm in your decision, but flexible enough to listen to wise counsel and to make a few changes if necessary.

Now you are ready to make that career move. It is important to act as soon as you have made the decision. Otherwise the danger is that you may talk yourself out of it or a great opportunity may be lost. Believe me I have been there.


Wishing you every success,