What is Your 'Why'?
Updated: Nov 17, 2018
When you're experiencing job dissatisfaction, work-related stress, or even burnout, it can be challenging to remember why you do what you do. As physicians, we're viewed by others as having a meaningful career, full of altruism, helping others, and nobility. Unfortunately, this perception makes us feel even worse when we don't feel that way at all. When we lose the meaning in what we do, it can feel pointless and we can easily become disengaged. This is happening at an alarming rate in medicine, so if you feel this way, know you're not alone.
Loss of meaning is highly associated with burnout and happens in two ways - it can be both a cause and an effect of burnout. For instance, if Joe is a family physician who is overwhelmed with his work-related stressors, it will be more difficult for him to find meaning in the work he's doing given he's in survival mode; and if Joe has lost meaning in his work, again due to the stressors and becomes disengaged, he's at a higher risk of burnout. Loss of meaning is a lose-lose proposition.
What it comes down to is reconnecting with our 'why' - why do we do the work we do, why is our work important to us, why have we done everything leading up until now. We need to be intentional about this or our 'why' will fade into the background of our daily grind. If we lose our 'why', we may be doing things that no longer resonate with us or are no longer our purpose.
Maybe our 'why' has become buried deep among other confounding factors or maybe our 'why' now belongs elsewhere. Or maybe, we just need to continually revisit our 'why' to repurpose the meaning into the parts of our work that means the most to us.
As Viktor Frankl cites in his prolific book Man's Search for Meaning, "Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'". Words to live by for sure.
We, Colin and Sara, just wanted to add our 'whys' as to why we put attention and energy into Physicians For Physicians:
because we care deeply about our colleagues in medicine, especially when it comes to their mental and emotional well-being
because we know the only way to see change is to advocate for it, so we want to be a small part of the solution in the arena of physician wellness & burnout
because we believe we have some valuable perspective to offer as a physician couple who have been in the trenches for many years and have had our own shares of ups and downs in medicine
These 'whys' are so strong for us that they have helped us over many hurdles along the way. Thanks for being a part of our 'why'.