Do you have positive influences in your life? Are you surrounding yourself with people who build you up and push you to achieve more? Think about who you keep as company and make sure they represent who and what you want to be.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Pana Ninan.

Dr. Pana Ninan is a Functional Medicine specialist, pharmacist, and warrior for other healthcare professionals. She has taken her passion to help others heal and feel their best and founded Functionally Fit Rx where she helps driven mothers in the healthcare profession conquer their exhaustion and burnout using her signature method, special labs, personalized supplement plans, coaching, and community so they can continue to help others and thrive. Dr. Pana is passionate about helping healthcare professionals beat their health struggles by empowering them with knowledge and inspiring them to take control and transform their lives.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

After I got my degree in pharmacy, I started working in the community space. Soon I was married, my husband was also working as a community pharmacist, and we started our family with 2 children under the age of 2. It was at that time, I realized how important my family was to me. I wanted to work and help others but I also wanted to watch my children grow up. The ability to balance a career and more time spent with my children became a top priority. That meant I needed to have the energy to work 12–14 hour shifts and also keep up with my littles when not working. I knew I needed to focus on my health for the present and for many, many years down the road. This is when my health journey really started.

In 2019 I first learned about functional medicine. It has really changed my perspective on health and wellness. Approaching symptoms and disease states by addressing the root cause was a light-bulb moment for me. I had not learned any of this in my 8 years of college and postgraduate degree. My passion has always been to help people, and I thought my profession as a pharmacist fulfilled that, but after finding functional medicine I have realized there is so much more I can do to help others achieve their best.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I was raised to believe that success was getting a college education that provided a specific degree. That degree would allow for a professional career such as an accountant, doctor, lawyer, or pharmacist. Having a recognized profession would allow you to be set up for stability and financial security during your lifetime. Without the degree you would not obtain success. I was also taught to work hard. The harder I worked, the more success I would have. It was that simple.

How has your definition of success changed?

I now believe success is so much more. I believe that success is defined by the level of impact you have on others.

It is also defined by the freedoms it allows you, such as free time and financial freedom. Working smarter, not harder is my new motto. My definition of success is what led me to founding Functionally Fit Rx. I want to impact driven women in healthcare directly by teaching and empowering them with information they were not taught in school so that they can thrive, along with their families and patients.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

If the pandemic taught us anything, I hope we all realized the importance of our health. We all know people who looked healthy on the outside, but then got really sick from COVID-19. We also know those who weren’t in good health who lost the battle to COVID-19. Focusing on our health, for both ourselves and those closest to us should be at the top of everyone’s list. We need to help each other do better, eat better, and be better!

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

Remembering the value of connection with family and friends was a huge positive for me. One of the biggest things taken from us during the pandemic was the ability to connect in person with friends and family. In our busy lives, we often pushed aside those closest to us thinking we could see them anytime. Once that freedom was taken away, along with all the things that normally fill our calendars, we had more time to really reflect on what was most important in life. My friends and I started a group call once a week to check in, something we had never done before even though we had been friends since college and the technology had been there. It was so nice to see everyone, connect and realize that everyone was in the same boat of uncertain emotions.

More recently because of the vaccine and lower counts of the virus, I have been able to see not only those friends in person but also so many family members that we had not seen in years! It has been a really great year reconnecting.

I hope we all remember those things that pulled us through the harder times of the pandemic and treasure them. I hope we keep them in the forefront of our lives as true values and ways of being.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

In order to redefine success right now, I think you should ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. Are you working in your zone of genius? Most of us work in our zone of excellence, which means we are doing something we are tremendously skilled at. But when you work in your zone of genius, you can capitalize on your natural abilities instead of learned skills.

2. Does your profession allow you the ability to serve others the way you desire and create the impact that you want? Our greatest sense of purpose comes from serving others and adding value to the lives of those around us.

3. Does your profession allow you to spend the time you desire with your family? Having the balance you need is an important part of being able to enjoy success.

4. Do you have time to take care of yourself and your health? Gone are the days where working yourself to death equals success. Having time-freedom and flexibility to put your health first is SO important and is what will allow you the ability to have sustained success. In order for you to thrive, you must be in good health.

5. Do you have positive influences in your life? Are you surrounding yourself with people who build you up and push you to achieve more? Think about who you keep as company and make sure they represent who and what you want to be.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

By changing our definition of success, we lower our stress and focus more time on personal health and the power of interpersonal connection. If we balance our lives with both personal and professional success, then we will find more joy in that success. What is success if we cannot enjoy it?

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

I think our biggest obstacle is mindset. Most of us were raised with outdated beliefs or models of success. We have been taught to turn our energy from passion into a state of burnout. Never before has sound physical and mental health been such an important ingredient for success, and many will struggle with that. It’s not easy to perform a mindset shift, but to have redefined success, it is essential.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I love a good book! I always listen for recommendations from friends and mentors. I recently read The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. His “5 Laws of Stratospheric success” really resonated with me. I’ve actually listened to the book twice since audio books fit my lifestyle best right now. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn a new approach and perspective on success.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

“Every time you take a bite of food, consider that you are programming your biology for health or disease. When you eat healthy food, you are, in fact, eating medicine.” -Dr. Mark Hyman

Finding Dr. Mark Hyman’s podcast “The Doctor’s Farmacy” was life changing for me. I would like to thank him for his profoundly positive influence on my health and my career. His podcast and books have done so much for me and inspired me to make huge changes in my life. He helped spark a new energy inside myself and inspired me to help others through the functional medicine lens.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

IG- @functionallyfitrx

LinkedIn- Dr Pana Ninan

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.