Need a Job Change? Use This Tip from Mountain Climbers

Jun 30, 2022 | Burnout, Coaching, Thriving

Sometimes we just need to focus on finding a basecamp.

Climbers whose goal is scaling Mount Everest first spend time in one of two basecamps. They don’t expect to hop from the foothills to the summit. They recognize that they will be healthier and have a been chance of reaching their goal if they make their first challenge reaching basecamp.

Once there, they spend time resting, acclimatizing, and waiting for the right conditions—all to increase their chances of reaching the summit.

I’ve been using this analogy a lot lately with physicians who, for various reasons, need to rejigger their careers.

Some are experiencing burnout. Some are fed up with their organization. Some want better work-life balance. Some have realized that their passion lies working with a different patient population or in a different setting. Some are feeling disillusioned with medicine.

I suggest that they consider dividing their search into two phases: looking for basecamp, which is a job setting that will let them regroup and recover, and looking for Everest, which is a position that works for them and that they’re passionate about.

When you’re confused and exhausted, it’s really hard to find your Everest. Focusing first on locating your basecamp is a more achievable goal. That basecamp job provides the space, time, and energy to eventually discover what you REALLY want to be doing.

This analogy can be useful with other decisions as well. If you’re moving across the country, could you rent first to acclimate before buying a home? If you’re thinking of adopting a pet, could you borrow a friend’s dog for a week?

Making changes is how we get from good (or not even good) to great. Breaking down changes into smaller goals makes them easier to start and more likely to be successful.

What’s your next basecamp move? I’m here if you’d like to bounce some ideas around.

Photo credit: Martin Jernberg

[ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ]

Diane W. Shannon

MD, MPH, ACC

Diane Shannon is an award-winning writer, author, and coach. Since leaving practice as a primary care physician due to burnout, she has worked to support physicians in achieving their personal and professional goals and to highlight the changes needed to reduce burnout, improve career satisfaction, and protect the bidirectional healing power of the patient-physician relationship.

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