Live a Life You Love

Susan Biali I had the immense pleasure recently of reading Dr. Susan Biali’s incredible book “Live a Life you Love” (Read My Review here). I find often many of us instead of living a life we love are living a life others would love us to live. This book truly resonated with me and got me to thinking that there are so many people out there that feel stuck. I think so often we don’t pursue our dreams for reasons that often seem practical. We all know the bills need to be paid.

Choosing a Career Based on Earning Potential or Interests

Although, years ago I remember reading a study out of Harvard that compared the average annual income of graduates…it went something like this…those that pursued a career based on what they loved earned significantly more than those who pursued a career based on how much money they could earn. They were asked what their motivation was for pursuing their chosen field at graduation and then followed approximately 10 years later. The monetary well being and general level of “success” of those that pursued their dreams was so much greater that the results blew me away.

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We often hear this and I think say “whatever”. I’m sure you have all heard the “follow your bliss and the money will follow” advice. And then picture yourself following your bliss to the poor house. I know in my heart though that this is so unlikely to happen. I also know that the currency we pay with our soul when we don’t follow our dreams can be incredibly costly.

So often we don’t take the time to look into our hearts and decide what we truly want. We never think about what really makes our heart sing. We get on that tread mill of life and we just keep running. We are so busy climbing the mountain we never stop to think that there is a chance that we are climbing the wrong one. This is one of the reasons why we all need to carve out some time for ourselves everyday for thought and introspection. We need time to check in with our gut and see that we are on the right path. I started writing in a journal years ago and I find that this is a great way to check in with your heart on a regular basis.

I Wanted to be a Neurosurgeon

Dr. Susan Biali talks about the importance of journaling in her book. Her story really resonated with me. She talks about following a path based on blind ambition and pleasing others. I thought as I read her story how much that had been me and how I was lucky to get introspective and change course just before my residency started. You see I was always what one might consider the type A good girl (although I had my share of screw ups along the way which I will share with you further in other blogs).

I always wanted to do it all. I think I was fortunate to have parents that told me I could do anything. But somebody should have told me that this didn’t necessarily mean I could do everything. When I was in med school I spent all of my time thinking I should be a Neurosurgeon. Not because I loved it (although I was interested in neurology) but more because it was one of the hardest, most arduous residencies that garnered the most respect from my colleagues and others. It was the “Brass ring”. It was impressive. It was the pinnacle. And it may be all those things but it would have been the worst choice for me.

In my final year of medical school I did all my electives in Neurosurgery. I remember some of my buddies picking cool electives in Barbados and Africa in 4th year. But I was working 1 in 2 call at Vancouver hospital eating and breathing this brain surgery thing. I was going to be the best. I was going to make the ultimate sacrifice. There was just one little problem, I was miserable. This is when I wrote in my journal that I missed my friends, I missed my significant other, I missed my family, I missed my workouts, I missed a chance to walk at Granville Island or sip a latte without the dreaded pager going off. In short I missed my life. If I had not changed course I would have been brutally unhappy.

Decisions That Change Everything

At the eleventh hour, when we put our match choices in for residency programs I placed Ophthalmology (eye surgery) as my number one choice and neurosurgery was not even listed. I remember the difficult call I made to my mentor to let him know that neurosurgery was not a good fit for me. I remember worrying about disappointing him. It’s amazing to me that we worry more about disappointing others than doing what is right for us. He was fine with it and probably no longer remembers the event. I was likely just another med school student that had spent some time on his service.

Never forget that we are the ones living our lives and we have to do what is right for us. My experience has been that in general people are really understanding of this. A couple of months ago I read an article in the Globe and Mail about a doctor who had completed her residency in Neurosurgery. She was just getting established in her practice and she got pregnant. After having her baby she decided to give up her career and be a stay at home mom. I remember a couple of my male colleagues in the OR lounge commenting on how crazy this was. I am here to tell you (especially after having my little man Nicholas 16 months ago) that this is not that crazy. More power to her for following the path that is the right one for her.

eye surgeryAnyway, call it divine intervention, God or the universe providing but by some stroke of incredible luck I was accepted into the Ophthalmology program at UBC. I am now fortunate to work at a career where I can help people regain their sight, connect with those that have been on the planet longer than me ( I work mainly with seniors or what I like to call the “experienced population) and tailor my schedule to have time for what matters to me. I am truly blessed.

Are You Living a Life You Love?

It is so important to listen to your heart. Make sure you check in with your physical response to a given life choice. If your authentic self is whispering in your ear, listen and take heed. My experience has been if we don’t listen to the whispers of our soul we might find them yelling for help.

This month in my Book review section I am highlighting Dr. Susan Biali’s amazing book. I would highly recommend it as requiring reading for anyone who wants to learn to listen to their own heart and live a love that they truly love.

Action Steps

1) Buy a journal and try writing for 10 minutes a day

2) Run don’t walk to the bookstore to purchase Dr. Susan Biali’s amazing book Live a Life You Love!: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You

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