Your Career and Your Health

11.07.19 |

The Habits of Health Transformational System is comprehensive in that it addresses every aspect of your life. That’s because your health is not something that grows or withers separately from other parts of your life. Every choice, every day, matters. How much we move, what we eat, how we manage our stress, and what we do for our work—it all adds up. If we practice Habits of Health, we move toward optimal health. If we practice Habits of Disease, we move further from the rewards of longevity and vibrant wellbeing. 

When we begin a journey toward health, we often overlook some of the largest areas of our life, mistakenly believing that they are not relevant to our waistlines or to how we feel physically.

I fell into this trap myself. I had achieved my dream of being a critical care physician after years of schooling. I believed I was on the path to making a lifelong career out of helping people, rescuing patients from dire circumstances so that they could have another chance at life.

Though my profession and passion was medicine, my health started to decline. Long shifts at the hospital built on erratic schedules meant that I often ate whatever was convenient, which is to say I ate fast food and vending machine cuisine, chomping down what I could between patients. As the elastic on my scrubs stretched outward, the bags under my eyes got heavier as well.

Time off was rare, and even when I was away from the hospital, an alert on my beeper would send me back in at all hours to care for a patient who needed me.

At one point, I paused to reflect, and I realized that even though I had gotten what I thought I wanted in my career, my health was declining. I was gaining weight. I was exercising less. I was not sleeping. And worst of all, I saw my girls less and less often.

I left that career behind and built the Habits of Health Transformational System. Leaving my role at the hospital felt like a huge risk, but it was the right choice for my true mission, for my health, and for my family.

I tell you this story so that you understand how serious I am about this advice: If your career is not supporting your goal of optimal wellbeing, you can change it.

Does that mean you have to suddenly quit your job and do something different? Not necessarily, but here are some options to consider:

  • Long commutes are associated with a number of health problems tied to long periods of sitting and the stress that often comes from a hectic trip to and from work. Can you move closer to your job? Can you work from home a few days a week?
  • Balance work with your health and your family time. Yes, you could take that next promotion to get another salary bump, but if it means even longer hours at work and less time with your loved ones, is it really worth it? 
  • Align your career with what really matters to you. Many of us (including me), view our work as our life’s mission. Is your work fulfilling you in that way? Perhaps a career change is a good option for you, which is why many people in our community become health coaches.
  • Your stress response could be the problem. Stress is a natural human reaction, but few of us learn to manage it in a healthy way. Your career path may have the potential to be perfectly healthy if you use the Habits of Health approach to process your stress (crack open your book!).

Thinking about your career in this way is scary. You depend on your work to provide for your family and to give your life structure, so I recognize that asking you to potentially disrupt that might come as a shock. I am not telling you to storm into your boss’s office today and slam down a resignation. No. Instead, take time to reflect on the day to day flow of your life and how your work fits into your goals and the aspects of your life that truly matter to you.

If your career is not moving you toward optimal wellbeing, you can plan for a change. That option is there for you. You are not trapped, and you are capable of achieving optimal health.