It’s not uncommon for veterinary professionals to realize years into their careers that something is missing in their lives.
The veterinary career has become all consuming in regard to focus, time and energy, resulting in a life that is tethered and disengaged.
This lack of progress in our lives is fueled by two different things that keep us stuck… and they’re sneaky.
One is a commonly practiced behavior, the other is a pattern often awarded. Neither, however, are useful in helping us continue on our life journey.
In this episode I discuss the two sneaky patterns that keep us stuck, and what we can do about it.
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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. Feel like your life is going nowhere. There are two super sneaky ways that keep us stuck. And that's what we're talking about in episode 84, I'm Dr. Cari Wise, and this is the Joyful DVM Podcast. Hi, everybody. Welcome to Episode 84. Today. We're going to be talking about two ways that we get stuck. So two ways that we are stuck, that we tend to get stuck and we don't even know it. This is what I want to talk about today because these two ways are really sneaky and we don't recognize that it's happening or that the, or even the impact of it until quite a ways down the road. So if you kind of find yourself in a position where you look up and you look around and you're like, how did my life end up like this? It's likely that one of these two things are happening and it's a pattern that we tend to repeat over and over and over again, if we're not aware of it. And as veterinary professionals where we're high achieving individuals, we have a history of having been able to get through some pretty rigorous academic programs. Part of that character set actually ends up playing into these two ways. So the first way that a lot of us end up stuck and we don't even know it is by doing a lot of looking back at the past and regretting the decisions that we made. So today the lives that we are experiencing today, if we aren't happy, if we don't feel fulfilled, if we aren't enjoying our jobs, if we're struggling with our relationships, if we're having trouble living a happy life, if we just realize that we're just kind of not happy with the existence that we have, and that can show up, like I just went through a whole bunch of different ways. A lot of us draw conclusions then that our prior decisions created the experience that we're having today. So the current reality that our prior experience has created our current reality. Now we do have to pay attention to one thing that is true is that the life that we're living in this moment does end up being a bit of a consequence of things that have happened before, but not to our detriment. And that's where we start to get this tangled up and how we end up stuck. If we can take a look at our lives today. And we realize that the, every single thing that we do today is based on a prior decision. So even me talking to you, this is the evidence of a prior decision. This is the result of that. I decided I was going to do this today. And so I did it and I am doing it. Same thing with the clothes that I'm wearing today. That was a prior decision. I made a decision earlier today to put on this particular shirt today. So those are some simple examples to show us how every single thing that's happening today has to do with some type of prior decision that we made to be in that place at that time, doing those things. Now, the, how this starts to work against us is when we're not happy in the present moment that we want to draw conclusions, not only about very recent decisions and actions that our own, but things that we did way back or decisions that we made way back or things that happen to us way back. And when we do that, when we're looking back at those prior decisions and the easiest one, I think for a lot of us to relate to is our decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. When we look back at those decisions, and we conclude that if we had not done that, that we would be happy today, the F and then kind of scenario, what happens is we end up stuck in the experience that we're having. The reason is because instead of looking at opportunities to move forward, to make changes, to make new decisions, all of our focus is backwards. It's looking back at what's already happened. And it's a bit of arguing with reality. We just keep looking at that. And we just keep compounding this belief that if I hadn't done that, then today, things would be better. And we have no evidence of that. Number one, number two, we can't predict the future. So we can't jump back in time and then predicted by making a different decision, we'd have a different outcome. So we don't know that. And by looking back at the past, what we fear and living through that experience over and over and over again, as if it's got power today, what we forget and what we may not even realize is that our experience of our past decisions today is based on what we believe about them today. So even though perhaps our overall day in and day out activities, what we're doing today definitely is related to our prior decisions. The experience we create out of it is based on what we believe about those priority decisions. Does that make sense? So yes, today is the result if you will, of past decisions, but the experience of it is based on what we believe about those decisions. And so if we're looking back at the past all the time through this constant looping narrative that my past decisions were in my life, the things that I did back then have negatively affected me today and will continue to negatively affect me moving forward. I shouldn't have done that. Now. I've limited. What's possible for myself. If those are the kinds of stories that we're telling ourselves over and over and over again, that keeps us stuck, right where we are. And now this is very common in veterinary medicine, because what tends to happen is as we go through our struggles and through our challenges in this profession, and we gather with others who are going through the same things, we tend to commiserate finding people who are on the same path as you in that same journey who are struggling with the same things. There is some camaraderie that comes with that, and we want to embrace the camaraderie, but we don't want to then collectively embrace the commiseration because when we just spend all of our time, commiserating, blaming, complaining, building onto these, if, and then kind of statements. If I hadn't done this, then things would be different today. As we continue to compound that over and over and over again, then as a collective, we end up stuck. We don't change anything it's as if we accept our current reality as it is. And we believe we have no power to change it for ourselves or for anybody else moving forward. And my friends, that's just not true. So if you don't like the current reality that you have, just remember, you always have the opportunity to make a new choice. And that's where all of your power is. Your power is in your ability to make a new choice, your power wasn't lost by the choices you made before. Every single thing that we've done in our past gives us information that we can apply to the next decision. It's a journey, but if we stop where we are, and we just keep looking back at the places that we've already come from, and we continue to feed the story in a negative way about that, then we will never make a new decision and we will never take a new action. We will never create a different result. So that's how we get stuck. Number one, number two way that we get stuck is by when and then kind of thinking. So we're looking into the future, which I love. We're not so much stuck on the past so much as we are looking to the future. And we're looking toward what it is that we want, and we are working our tail off to get it, but we're forgetting to live in the present moment. So we're pushing, pushing, pushing, trying to get through. Now, this is the one that we come by. So honestly, as high achieving veterinary professionals, who've been through academic rigorous academic careers, because there are so many times in any kind of long educational program where you just pushing to just get through it, to just get through to the next test, to the next class, to the next degree, you just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, sacrificing all these things and the rest of your life on this one goal. And we're so practiced at it and we've become pretty good at it. That when we get into the real world of veterinary medicine, we tend to adopt that same strategy. We keep thinking if we just push more, if we just work harder, if we are just better, that we will create a completely different life experience for ourselves. And so we actually can talk ourselves into the idea that all of the sacrifice today is worth it because of where we're going to end up. And that may be true if we're paying close attention to the progress that we're making. But what most of us are doing is we're working diligently, harder, trying to be better day in and day out, pushing through, but we're not actually making any progress toward those goals and dreams. And for a lot of us, we haven't even defined them. If we don't know where we're trying to get to, then we're definitely never going to get there. So it's one thing to have a goal in front of you to have a dream, to have something you're working toward and to be doing the work and measuring your progress and adjusting course as you're moving forward. And then as you do that, you continue to make progress toward achieving those goals and dreams. That's one way to do it, but when we're stuck, we're not doing that when we're stuck, we're on the hamster wheel, we're just trying harder and harder and harder and doing more and trying to be better. And as we do that, we put all the effort into the car, to the present day actions. We never look up to see what kind of progress that we're making. And then one day we do look up and we're like, how the heck did I get here? I don't like my life. I've been doing this for a decade. I'm no further along in any of my goals than I was 10 years ago. And we start to conclude then that we can't get there, especially we can't get there. If we stay in this job now, that's not true either, but it's just the perspective that we have when we forget that we need to be present in the moment so that we can continue to make new decisions, action, and action, and action repeated over time. Isn't necessarily going to get you where you want to go. If you never look up and adjust course as needed now, tiny actions repeated over time, could it make some massive change? Absolutely. But those tiny actions are the result of tiny decisions. They, after day after day, once we get into that hamster wheel of just repeated autopilot action and pushing through and just making it, making ourselves, just keep going and going and going, and then also building onto that to learn more and do more and be more without actually having an end point someplace that we're trying to get a goal we're trying to achieve. That's how we end up stuck. And it feels powerful. It's really sneaky because we're not necessarily spending our time in the land of doom and gloom. We're not necessarily ending up on our days off with a lot of anxiety and dread. We may be these two things could absolutely go together for sure. We can absolutely have Sunday blues and a lot of anxiety. Actually, I would say that we do tend to have a lot of that anxiety that pops up when we slow down. And so that action feels more powerful to us. Just like commiseration felt powerful for when we're stuck looking backward that that action ends up being the thing that buffers us from the discomfort in the current moment, if we stay busy enough, then we never pay attention to how uncomfortable or unhappy that we are. And as soon as we slow down and I've been at pops up, and that's when we look around, like how the heck did this happen? And we make the conclusion that if we will just work harder and do more, that we'll feel better and we'll get where we need to go. We're kind of halfway through. It can kind of make us feel better for a while, cause it covers up what else is going on underneath the surface, but it doesn't actually move us forward. So there's this action-based way of being stuck because that action is more of a phrenic type action that isn't being prompted by any kind of decisions in the moment. And isn't headed toward any particular goal other than just surviving the current day. If we just stay in survival mode, get through the current day, then we are actually going to move any closer either. So those two ways that we're stuck can be very stuck, are very sneaky. So I'd love it. If you take a listen, you know, think about this, think about what I've shared today and identify are there areas in your life where you are either so focused on the past, the past decisions that you can't move forward, or you're so focused on taking action in the current moment and just reinforcing this idea that once I get these things done, then I can be happy. And so we're constantly in a state of action, putting off our happiness to a time later in the future. That's never going to arrive. Can you relate to either one of those, if you can, I would definitely recommend that you check out our latest webinar. I'm doing a webinar series right now. They're joyful DVM. There's several dates. You just jump over to joyfuldvm.com/webinar . The title of my brand new webinar is how to stop sacrificing your mental health and wellbeing for your veterinary career. Three strategies for decreasing anxiety and making work-life balance possible. These strategies are exactly what you need to get out of these two ways of coping that actually have you moving in any direction at all. It just has you repeating the same cycle over and over and over again. And for most of us, that cycle looks like increasing anxiety, no work-life balance, and then a heavy dose of hopelessness and frustration right along with it. So if that sounds like you, I would definitely recommend join us. I'd love to see you at the webinar. Like I said, we have several dates coming up and it would be great to see you there. And if we can help you at all, never hesitate to reach out. We're here to help you every step of the way. I hope you have a beautiful rest of the week and that is going to wrap it up for today. See you soon.