Every major move I’ve made had a lot to do with stepping outside my comfort zone, like leaving the comfortable, protective bubble my parents raised me in by moving to the U.S. Or leaving Michigan where I could have built a medical practice with the help of numerous physicians I trained with and got to know well. Or leaving my boys to return to work (probably the most uncomfortable decision I made because I wanted so badly to stay home with them). Or even the recent decision I made of leaving a very successful family medical practice I’ve built over many years to start building another one all over again.
Ultimately, the decision to make these life-altering changes was mine. I can remember how hard these changes were to accept and move through, but as a result of these disruptions, I also found more freedom, inspiration, independence, and ultimately more confidence.
When you embrace change, you embrace the unknown, which can be stressful, frightening, and extremely disorienting. I used to predict the outcomes of big changes before they had even happened using my imagination. This added a layer of stress as I worked to get used to the new reality.
In the face of a new change, I wanted to share the steps that have made me self-aware. Maybe they will help you as you face your fork in the road.
Feeling stationary might be a starting point for needed change
It’s good to settle down and have a routine. But with routine comes monotony, the opposite of change. If I look at big changes in my life, I can trace them back to a repetitive routine. When I do the same thing over and over, I feel that I’m not expanding my mind or soul, and then I get nervous. I get nervous about missing out on other opportunities, meeting new people, learning new skills, and growing as a person. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, or that your job is less satisfying than it used to be, that’s normal. But I find it is an indication that change might be good for me.
Be willing to take chances
No matter what type of change you’re facing, failing to take chances denies you the valuable process of learning when you fail. Failing is not such a bad thing; it’s how you grow. When I was younger, every time I decided to change the status quo, I ended up beating myself up over my decisions. Why? In hindsight, I chose to make some decisions based on others’ influence on me, as opposed to it being a chance that I wanted to take. I realize that part of becoming more mature is caring less about what other people think.
Denzel Washington told university graduates at a ceremony, ‘Don’t be afraid to fail.’ I believe part of my journey is not being afraid to fail, not feeling crushed by rejections, not feeling intimidated by doubters, and taking chances when I have the opportunity. Failure is essential for growth, so remember that life will take unexpected turns. But when you do fail and learn from your mistakes or circumstances, you’ll grow. I remind myself of this as I go to work at my new practice.
Change always involves people
Ideally, when you make big changes, you’ll want to have a smooth transition from the old to the new. For me, in starting a new family medical practice, it would be ideal to take all my patients with me. I do not want to let anyone feel like I am abandoning them. I’ve grown so much with them over years of regular check-ins. I know not staying connected with all of them will generate a major void in my life and I truly feel sad when I think about it. But when we make moves, things will change, including the people we interact with, and that is part of the process. Because healthcare is a very complex system with so many intertwining layers, it will make it almost impossible for me to maintain my connections with all my patients. But this is OK. In all my life changes, it has come with a set of new people.
I think one of the main reasons I have been able to build a successful practice is that my patients know very well that I always come from a genuinely good place when I approach them. Our connections are very strong. For those who do move with me, I will continue to make the decisions that are best for them with more freedom and autonomy. I do acknowledge and hope others who can’t move with me understand my reasoning for the change. I know that I won’t make the best decision every time, but I take the trust the community has in me very seriously and will continue to make medical decisions with their health in mind.
Find the best in yourself when you go through change
When change happens, it is an opportunity for growth. Even though moving to a new medical practice was stressful, I welcome the opportunity to learn more and become a better clinician. I welcome the challenges of shaking things up, and I welcome the adversities that I might meet along the way. As I embrace change, I will grow as a person.
Looking back on the years I spent at my old practice, my heart says that I got comfortable and didn’t grow as much as I wanted to. I felt stagnant, and this comfort zone almost became a personal shield protecting me from the outside world. If I had stayed put, then I would have held myself back from looking at things from a different angle or perspective. On so many days I used to feel like I was coasting and not effectively partaking in the life I wanted to live.
I want to foster and positively impact a larger community. Staying confined in my comfort zone will not help. This is also one of the reasons I’ve been interested in public speaking so I can connect to larger audiences, and meet people who know nothing about my background.
Change can be exciting and build confidence
The more I examine my self-imposed change, the more confident I feel about the move because I believe I will have more autonomy to make the decisions I believe are best. Having said that, I do not expect all my decisions to be correct, but that’s all part of growth.
I’m excited to immerse myself in a whole new world, make more connections and positively impact many more families.
I also feel very proud of myself and have grown more confident. The old me felt that my self-respect was at a standstill, and I felt stagnant at work. Taking on this major risk has invigorated me, and I feel more alive. And when I feel more alive, I can’t help but feel more confident.
When you face changes, and accept the challenges that come along with them, you’re gaining more experience. You’re gaining more confidence and in essence, that process is what is helping you to grow, because you’ve realized that you’ve hit a threshold where you need to grow. The change itself is not always positive, but you have to look at the whole process of change, including the good and bad, to evaluate how it has made you grow. The things that go wrong are little micro ways of learning and improving. Therefore, the process of going through change is uncomfortable, but the more comfortable you are with change, the faster you can find yourself growing in a positive direction. If you want to share your stories of working through change, tweet me @reyzanshali, I’d love to hear about your journey.