I had just finished a 17-day work trip that included some pretty stressful experiences. I’m talking about the kind of experiences that most people should never experience in their life. In my line of work at the time, I was in the operating room during high-risk heart surgeries that would sometimes end in tragedy. I had to pack my suitcase and head to the next hospital to train another set of physicians on an emerging technology that would soon revolutionize a particular type of heart surgery.
Today, transcatheter heart valve replacements are outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home right after having this tiny valve snaked up through your leg and opened up into your heart on top of the malfunctioning valve. In the early days, we were learning how to use them, and there were about ten people traveling around the world teaching doctors how to use the technology. These people were also learning as much as possible to take to the next hospital and help things go smoother. I was one of those ten people.
After that last big work trip, I called my boss and said I was going to Maui and taking a last-minute vacation. What happened there changed my life forever. Without cell service, emergent emails, and a nervous system constantly in fight or flight, I was able to completely let go of who I had become. I was able to step out of my daily grind and think about who I wanted to be. Was I on track to be that person?
Today, I’m going to share with you 3 ways to re-evaluate your life’s purpose so you don’t have to press the reset button when everything is spiraling out of control. Instead, you can hit the pause button when it suits you, or even right now.
3 Ways to Re-evaluate Your Life’s Purpose
- Break up your routine. I mean, really break it up. Do something you wouldn’t normally do to put yourself first. This could be taking the vacation time you never take, signing up for a class you’ve been meaning to try, or simply going to a new park to explore. I would encourage you to do this thing alone. This will allow you to tune into YOU. Your feelings, thoughts, and emotions during the experience. Perhaps setting an intention before doing the thing will provide some extra space to feel into the experience. You don’t have to force answers or even go searching for them. The more you immerse yourself completely into the new activity, you will start to feel things you didn’t know about yourself.
- Start journaling. One of the most powerful gifts you can give your current self is an outlet to discover your future self. Along the way, you will learn to forgive your past self and maybe a few people who still really get under your skin. Don’t know what to write about? There are a lot of structured programs out there I really like, but there is also something healing about tapping into your intuition and listening to what you want to write about. A great place to start is making a list of all of the stressors in your life. Each day, write about that one topic until you can’t write anymore. Have more to write? Write about it the next day until there is nothing more to write. Move through your stressors this way and notice what happens to your body when you are writing. Pay attention to the body. Feel into that stress when you are writing and let it go. Check out some of these great tools to consider for releasing all different types of stress.
- Get curious about your deepest sense of purpose. This is a gift to yourself. While you may not be able to quit the stressful job or get out of a difficult relationship, nobody can take away the three minutes a day you dream about your purpose on this planet. As you take these mini-purpose breaks, you will start to open yourself up to possibilities that you didn’t even know existed for you. You may see opportunities you didn’t before. The more we dream big, the more the world opens up for us.
Maui was my routine breaker. I finally took the vacation (about two years overdue) and spent a lot of alone time walking around barefoot. Growing up in Texas, you never walk around barefoot for fear of snakes and scorpions so walking around barefoot was a total routine break. I shut my phone off for the entire week and found a pen and paper. I started journaling. I spent a lot of time alone, thinking about my deepest sense of purpose.
I realized I no longer wanted to work in operating rooms extending people’s lives with surgery. Instead, I wanted to find a way to help people stay out of the hospital altogether.
I quit my job at the end of that week. Over the next several months, I got the mental health support I needed to end an abusive partnership. I applied to naturopathic medical school that following year and moved to Canada to pursue my Doctor of Naturopathy at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada. These were the bravest and most difficult shifts I had ever made.
After 4 years of harsh winters of Ontario and all their thrashings, I thankfully headed to the West Coast and now call Victoria, the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples, home.
If you’re curious about exploring how you want to live your life, especially when everything feels so incredibly hard and overwhelming, let’s chat. As naturopathic physicians, we have so many tools available to help quiet the noise and weed through the complexities of life, and believe me, I understand complexity. I look forward to learning about what makes you uniquely you, how you show up in the world, and what dreams you’re going to make come true. Consider booking a free 15-minute discovery call to see if we might be a good fit for each other.