Explore Without Expectation
This month marks the anniversary of my retirement from the practice of obstetrics and gynecology. The last baby I delivered is four years old now.
When I first left practice, I planned to search for a new career, calling, or purpose. The scientist in me wanted to research and come up with a definitive answer to my professional quandary.
What’s actually been more useful is taking time to explore possibilities without expecting to get a particular result. I’ve learned that exploration works best when there is no expectation. It is purely about feeding curiosity and not solving a problem.
This mindset is not inherent to my nature. I’m definitely curious, but I like for there to be a clear point to my activities. Searching for something specific is more my jam. Exploration seemed a bit too random when I started doing it.
Initially, I went into my career exploration with a lot of expectations. Every job I considered had the pressure of possibly being The One; I approached each potential opportunity as though I’d been set up on a date. The job had to be respectable enough for me to tell people about it and provide enough money to support me. Most importantly, it had to be guaranteed to sustain my interest forever.
Once I recognized I was looking for a new fulfilling job with the same strategy I’d used to find the old miserable job, I decided to change my tactics. I had to get over the concept of “mating for life” with my work situation.
There was a running joke with one of my friends that I found a new potential life’s work roughly every six weeks. After vetoing about four non-clinical careers that sounded like a good idea for me until I talked to people actually doing them, I decided to be a bit less attached to the outcome of my job exploration.
Just because a lot of things could be the right thing doesn’t mean any of them actually will be. It took some re-programming from my medical training to be OK with the notion that every job I take doesn’t have to be my calling for the rest of my days. Sometimes a person needs a placeholder job that provides valuable skills, connections, and (most importantly) funds, but doesn’t end up being the final solution.
Once I accepted the fact that I didn’t have to find my dream job out of the gate, I relaxed enough to see the signs of what was actually a good fit for me. It wasn’t until I explored possibilities with positions that aren’t fully aligned with my purpose that I recognized the best current uses for my skills.
The beauty of my life now as opposed to four years ago is that I allow space for exploration. Every result doesn’t have to be the right answer for all time. I’m more comfortable trying new things because they don’t all hold such great expectations.
I try different workouts with other fitness professionals to see the effect on my body and spirit. I tweak my diet to see what nutritional combination best supports my lifestyle. I can go to an event that isn’t exactly what I thought it would be and appreciate it for what it is instead of being annoyed about what it isn’t.
My life is one that can accommodate a lot of change right now, but it likely won’t always be this way. In the meantime, taking advantage of this mostly unfettered opportunity to explore has given me some great general principles for living.
The main thing is that arriving at a preset destination is not the point of exploration. The real value is learning from the journey. For me, that resulted in getting clearer on how to build a life for myself that supports my overall wellbeing.
What areas of your life need further exploration? Are you attached to predetermined outcomes that are keeping you from exploring all your possibilities?
As a life coach, Jattu Senesie works with healers of all kinds to keep them focused on their own wellness in order to better care for others. If you would like help figuring out where to start exploring, please click here to request an Essence of Strength sample coaching conversation.