Career contentment: Keeping the feeling alive

August 6, 2010

Neither employers nor employees - or practice owners - have complete control over all the people or conditions that are necessary to maintain physician satisfaction on a consistent basis.

The truth is that we will never be satisfied or content for very long when expected to fulfill purposes other than our own. Further, neither employers nor employees-or practice owners-have complete control over all of the people or conditions that are necessary to maintain physician satisfaction on a consistent basis.

Thus, inner control of contentment to manage your life and career is always more powerful and enduring than an employer's outer efforts to influence those feelings. In the same manner that patients must proactively participate in their own healing for their physicians' cures to be effective, you need to proactively participate in your own career contentment.

THINK INTENTIONALLY

Although your work conditions can't always be controlled and never can be more than temporarily satisfying, you can control how you choose to think and reason about those conditions. This approach gives you an unyielding emotional power to manage your career independently of your conditions. By reasoning alone, you can choose to be content if dissatisfied, or you (theoretically) can choose to be discontent if satisfied.

"It's all about adjustment-to your employer, your settings, and your resources," says Paul Endres, MD, attending pathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "You need to redirect your goals along the way. You need to be able to adjust to the things that you don't have any control over because you are not calling the shots."

Career contentment is a choice that requires intent, courage, and intellect to ensure that your choices or decisions contribute to the fulfillment of your purposes. The emotion of contentment depends on how you choose to think about your conditions and how you choose to manage your career despite those conditions. It's really no different than a marriage. Every day might not be blissful, but what are the greater benefits of maintaining a loving relationship rather than looking for reasons to complain?

Remember that no matter how challenging your work conditions might become, they always are secondary or subject to the meanings you assign to them. This means, as we discussed in the first article, that we don't actually live in response to our conditions but in response to our emotions that were caused by what we chose to think about those conditions.