March has always been an odd month.
Right on the cusp of spring, with the uncomfortable jolt of daylight savings (mark your calendars for March 13) to fling us all into a new season, there is a reason why March has frequently been unpopular in polls of "America's Favorite Months." It is the transition month of all transition months, and if there's one thing true about change, it's that change is often uncomfortable.
For those of us in medicine, March holds an almost poetic significance as a time of transition as we approach one of the most important and emotional days of a budding physician's academic career: Match Day. In the moments before opening my own letter - surrounded by a small group of close friends, with family watching over a FaceTime call, and a Bloody Mary in hand - I remember just how exciting and scary it was to hold that solitary envelope knowing how profoundly its contents would shape my life. Like that envelope, we can never quite predict what the future holds or where life will take us. In fact, life rarely turns out exactly the way we expect it to, and even with the best-laid plans, there will be many times when the outcome that we wanted so badly is not the outcome we will get.
However, if you are able to embrace uncertainty and the challenges life throws your way, you will find that the best-kept secret to creating a happy and successful life does not rely on how often everything goes as planned, but instead lies in your ability to see opportunity and grow where you are planted.
For those of you finding yourself in a time of transition, here are a few tips I've found helpful:
- Take Care of Yourself and Don’t Ignore the Basics
- To fully thrive in times of transition, don't forget to take of your basic needs. Get your 7-8 hours of sleep, drink your water, choose foods that nourish your body, get in physical activity, lean in and nurture your relationships with family and friends, practice self-compassion, and make choices that affirm the person you aspire to be.
- Claim your sphere of control
- Break down your current situation into things you can control, and things that are out of your control- then focus your energy where it counts. I've found this exercise to be particularly helpful in helping me to refocus my goals to create meaningful outcomes.
- Lift as You Climb
- Along my transition from medical school to residency came one of my favorite pieces of advice, given to me by one of my chief residents when she become my own sponsor: Lift as you climb. As you work through your own transition periods, remember to seek out sponsors and mentors and make an active investment in those relationships. Inevitably, you will realize that you've climbed the metaphorical mountain, and it will be your turn to pay it forward as your mentors and sponsors did for you - and what you will gain from your investment in others will be invaluable.