Do you have a complicated relationship with your work?

A lot of doctors do. Some days are great and some are really hard; there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that.

I want to help you reconnect with your reasons for becoming a doctor so that you can feel more satisfied with your work, even on the hard days.

I recently came across this perspective on relationships with work: “the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave.” This statement immediately got me thinking, and I want to share why I don’t exactly agree with it and how I would think about it a little differently.

In this episode I’m offering a different way of thinking about your relationship with work that I hope will help you feel more satisfied, fulfilled, and happy with your job.

Listen To The Episode Here:

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • Why doctors often have complicated relationships with their work
  • Approaching work in a way that works for you
  • How to improve your experience at work
  • Taking time to notice your thoughts and feelings
  • Reconnecting to your “why”
  • What your options are if you’re feeling unsatisfied
  • How to define the requirements of your job
  • Why you might want to do more than the bare minimum
  • How to generate more feelings of satisfaction, value, and fulfillment

When you’re putting so much of yourself into a career, it’s nice to feel good about it. There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond at work if that’s what makes you feel fulfilled! Ultimately it all comes down to what works best for you.

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Other Episodes We Think You’ll Enjoy:

Ep #319: Negotiation for Physicians with Linda Street, MD

Ep #318: Work/Life Alignment

Ep #317: What Women Physicians Need to Thrive

Get The Full Episode Transcript

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Read the Transcript Below:

Welcome to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast. I’m your host, master certified life and Weight Loss coach Katrina Ubell, M.D.This is the podcast where busy doctors like you come to learn how to lose weight for the last time by harnessing the power of your mind. If you’re looking to overcome your stress, eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place. Well, hello there, my friend. Welcome to the podcast today. I’m so glad that you’re here.

I’ve decided that today’s podcast might sound just a little bit like when you’re listening to some sort of like guided meditation or something where you have like ambient noise in the background because it’s pouring outside right now and I really, really need to record this podcast. I don’t have the option of recording it at a different time. Now, if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a long time, then you know that I absolutely love a rainy day.

I grew up until I was about ten in Southern California, and so Rainy Day was a very, very special day. And because we were outside playing all the time, a rainy day meant that you were inside more and my mom would always make soup for lunch. And I remember thinking like, Oh, what kind of toys do I have in my closet? Like, it was such a fun day to rediscover some of the things you had forgotten that you had. And so I just have a special place in my heart for rainy days, so you may not be able to hear it all The rain.

I actually just tested recording with just the rain and I could hear it just a little bit. But it could be that once my podcast production team does their magic, which thank you to our team that maybe you won’t be able to hear it at all. But if you can, then just like it’s a vibe, right? We’re just going to groove with it. We’re going to feel nice and chill because of the rain. So the reason that I have to record this for you today is because I’m leaving in a couple of hours to go on a family vacation. Some of you who’ve been listening, if you’ve been listening a while, you may recall that last year around this time we went on a family vacation. We actually had to leave our oldest child home. This is what it’s come to. It’s come to this, my friends.

My oldest son is a junior in high school. And so now my kids don’t have the same vacations always. And so the younger to their school has a week off and the high school does not have that. And they’re super strict about not letting kids take time off. And honestly, his course load is so heavy that I think he would be probably pretty miserable anyway. So he is staying home per kid. So we’re actually going to go to Portugal.

So we wanted to maybe go to Greece thinking it might be a little bit warm. And the travel agent said, No, you don’t want to go to Greece this time of year because nothing is open besides things in Athens. But then I read an article in The New York Times that actually said that places like Mykonos were open, too, So I don’t really know. Anyway, their recommendation was to go somewhere else. So they said, How about Portugal? And I know so many people love Portugal, I’ve always heard such great things. And I thought, why not?

So the way that I do travel just stuff. Why I, in case you’re wondering, is I let them plan everything and then I just show up. So I’ve done no research. I could go look up what we’re doing, but I don’t really remember. And we’re just going to go check out some cool places and do different things and have a good time together. The four of us as a family, which actually is kind of I mean, if I’m being honest, it’s kind of nice that it’s just the four of us because already we have to get to hotel rooms. So if we had a fifth, I’m not even sure what we would do. Maybe we could cram one more in, but it starts getting really tricky. So. So that’s what I have going on. Of course, I am not packed properly at all, but I have to tell you something really quick in case you’re a procrastinator.

Packer Like I am my friend Judith Caton. She’s been on this podcast before. She is a style coach and she just happened to mention to me a couple of days ago about something that she teaches her clients that I don’t think she’d be upset if I mentioned it to you. It’s called a three by three. And so what you do is you pick three bottoms, you know, like pants or skirts or whatever, and then three base layers and then three tops, you know, like jackets or sweaters or whatever could go over it. And then you make sure that you make like a grid so that you have, like, you know, the base layers across the tops across and the bottom layers across. And then that means that you can get like a whole bunch of outfits. You make it so that they all go together.

So you can go like straight down, you can go diagonal, like you can mix and match and you have all these different outfits for so much for your clothing. And so I am not joking. I was like, That sounds amazing, but I’m guessing it’s going to take me a while last night really quick before bed. I’m like, Let me just see what I can do. And I put it together. I think it took me like 6 minutes for real. And I’m so excited because especially this time of year, I feel like, you know, when you’re traveling, if you’re going to be sweaty every day, this probably isn’t going to work, but it’s not going to be that hot.

And so I am super excited about this because it also means I don’t have to pack so much. It’s like so annoying when have to haul all your crap around, right? So I’m not super minimalist packer, but I’m excited to try this, so maybe I’ll report back. If you don’t know Judith, you should check her out. Judith Caton I think it’s Judith Caton. That’s probably her website and she Aton She’s awesome and you should check her out. She’s got so many great ideas like that. Like. I learned from a speaker that she had in one of her programs because, you know, she’s my friend.

So she clues me in on like how to apply lip liner. Like, who knew? I learn so much stuff. Like, I’ve always steered clear of it because I felt like I looked like the Joker or something. And then I just like, literally learned this one trick and I was like, Oh my gosh, this has changed my life. She’s. She’s amazing. You should check her out. Okay. That’s neither here nor there. Let’s talk about our topic today, which is when we have a complicated relationship with our work. And I think particularly right now, there are so many doctors that have that because it’s complicated. Right? Like some days are good, some days really sucks.

Some days you’re like, Yeah, this is good and I like this. And I feel like I’m, you know, getting value out of doing this. And some days you’re like, Why did I ever choose this profession? And I wish I had chosen to do something else. And this is so hard and so unfair and all the things, right? We just feel like it’s just so hard. And so in case you don’t know my process, what I do is I often have some ideas in my head that I’m just like mulling, like someday I’ll do a podcast on that, and then that someday often comes, right? So what happened with this one? Like, why I actually like what happened to actually bring this topic to the front of my attention is that we just recently had one of our amazing Master’s live events.

It was so good. And in the chat one of our amazing clients put something in there that I immediately when I saw it, I jotted it down. So just, you know, everything is inspiration for me. Like everywhere I go, I’ll be like, wherever I am, I pull out my phone, my husband starts to talk to me or something. I’m like, Hold on, I’m writing down a podcast idea. So everything is inspiration for me. And so what she wrote was, The job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave The job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave.

And I thought, Oh, that is such an interesting thought. Now I first just want to say that that is a totally valid approach. And if that is working for someone and they feel amazing when they think that and, you know, participate in the work in that way, no judgment here. I’m all for it if it’s working for you. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, you know what, though? I think we can do better. Right? And it could be that that’s like a great monkey bar. Wrong thought. If you’ve heard me talk about that before, it’s also very well described and explained in my book How to Lose weight for the last time. You know, it could be that your thoughts used to be way, way worse and that this is kind of a range, kind of a thought, right? Like, you know, it could get better, but it’s not as bad as it was. And so you’re working on improving it. That’s amazing as well.

But I also think that sometimes we really settle for thoughts that we think are the way we want to think about things, but we don’t really spend enough time exploring them. And that’s what I wanted to do with this, because it’s totally normal to have complicated relationships. Most relationships have some complication to them. If you really think about it, you know, often it’s like, I think if a relationship is super smooth, it probably means that it’s either super surface level or it’s very new once you get into it, this is just how it is, right? But if we’re going to be spending so much time in our lives, such a large percentage or proportion of our lives at work or thinking about work, it might be nice if we had at least a reasonably decent experience, right? So here’s the thing.

It is true the job doesn’t love you. Like if you’re trying to perform at a super high level because you’re hoping to get love back from the job, you’re probably going to be very disappointed. And I think there definitely are people who have fallen into that trap and you know, they just can’t do enough. And, you know, the job is sort of nebulous. It’s like, who is the job? Is the job like the hospital system, the administration, whoever your boss is, is it the chair of your department? Like who specifically are we thinking of when we think of the job? Or is it even a person? It really might not be, but sometimes when it is a person, I think we do fall into this people-pleasing kind of a thing of like, if I can just be who I think you want me to be, then I can get love from you. Then I can feel good about myself in my work. Yeah, that can be a big fool’s errand and it can really burn you out and it can just be exhausting.

And it’s just not sustainable, I don’t think, for most people. So yes, it is true. The job does not love you, but when I personally, I’ve spent some time with this when I personally think the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave. Remember the thinking cycle, right? Thoughts create feelings. Feelings drive our actions, which of course create our results. When I think that thought, how do I feel? So here are some examples of feelings that come up for me, and I’d love for you in tandem to be thinking about what feelings come up for you as well.

So the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave. The first emotion that came up for me was combative. I thought that was an interesting one, but then I spent a little more time with it. I felt resigned. As in, this is just as good as it can get, right? I guess I just have to settle. I felt withdrawn, kind of like I’m not fulfilling my potential. I know so many of us as physicians are big achievers. You know, we like to set big goals. We like to achieve them. We like to feel accomplished. We like to feel proud of ourselves. And so for me, it just sort of felt like a moving backward instead of a moving forward towards, I felt some resourcefulness, kind of like, am I being taken advantage of, Right? Like, the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave.

It’s kind of like something nefarious is happening or they’re taking advantage of me. And so I better just like come in here and do what I have to do and then get out before something else bad happens. Another kind of set that came up for me was apathy, feeling apathetic. And maybe if it isn’t quite apathy, then maybe it’s just indifference, right? Just kind of feeling like you don’t really care that much. And the thing is, is that not really caring ultimately doesn’t feel that great, right?

Really, all of these emotions don’t create satisfaction or fulfillment in our lives. And so when you really think about like, why do you work? Yeah, I mean, so you can have money, so you can fund your life. Sure. But why else and why a doctor of all things are so many other ways to make money. Probably even way more money. So why? Why are you a doctor? Well, my best guess is that has something to do with wanting to serve, with caring about people, with caring about reducing suffering, with wanting to make an impact, wanting to make a difference with potentially the relationships that you can create. I mean, at least at some point. There was probably some of that present, right? Like why are we even here in doing this? There’s probably at least some of that there. If you’ve disconnected from that, if you haven’t thought about that in a while, it could be a good thing to get connected to.

Like, why am I doing this? Like, take the money away, I’m well supported. I have what I need financially. Why else? This is totally other ways of doing this right. So I think that we don’t have to pressure ourselves. We don’t have to be like, Well, I’m doing it wrong if I’m not feeling super fulfilled and satisfied at all times. Like, no, I mean, it’s still work. There’s still going to be a lot of ups and downs, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting the goal of, at least on occasion, feeling that sense of satisfaction, that sense of fulfillment. Right?

Like it would be a lot of your life to be spent doing something to turn back, you know, decades later and go, What was that all for? Like, that didn’t feel good, you know, at all, or at least the majority of the time. So if that’s the case and that thought the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave, then what do we do? Well, what we can do is we can recognize that it’s just a thought like any other thought it might be even a thought that somebody else offered to us. And we thought, Oh, okay, maybe that’s how I should think about this. The cool thing is we can always reassess what we think and what we believe.

We can decide to re decide to continue believing what we believe or think what we think. We can also offer ourselves the option to change, right? It’s always a possibility. We don’t have to take ourselves up on it, but it’s available to us. So I think before saying, well, that thought is bad and we have to think differently. You know me, I do not like dragging people to new thoughts. Like I always feel like the minute I’m trying to drag myself or if, you know, if I’m being coached, it hasn’t happened often, but feeling like I’m being dragged to a new thought. Like I immediately just want to rebel and dig my heels. Then I’m like, You can’t make me think that. I don’t want to think that, right? Sometimes think of it as, like, rolling out the red carpet for myself and it’s an invitation. Would you like to consider thinking differently? I mean, we could just explore it. I mean, no one’s saying you have to do anything. It’s just, you know, a possibility. Then I’m much more open to it. I’m like, I mean, sure, I’m open to having a conversation about it. Sure. Right. So that’s what we’re doing here is we’re just opening it up for a conversation. So why might we want to consider either doing more at our work then the requirements, or feeling different about us doing the requirements? Because it’s also possible that doing the requirements and leaving is totally enough.

Because how much is enough? We get to decide. Enough is a thought. It’s not an amount. So the old way of thinking right, or this original way, the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave. To me, has kind of like subtext of the requirements are basically like phoning it in, right? Like doing the bare minimum just enough to not get fired. You might have heard the term quiet quitting, you know, where you’re basically just like doing just enough to not get fired, but no more, you know. So is that what doing the requirements means to you or is it much more right when you look at what you consider the requirements, it’s what you’re very happy with. You think it’s, you know, enough more than enough. It’s something that you’re proud of, right?

Maybe you feel if you’re doing the requirements that you’re providing excellent, excellent care, top notch care, you know, being a good leader, whatever it is. If that’s the case for you, amazing. I just think that most of the time when we think of the requirements, we’re thinking of the bare minimum. And I just know that most of us like living a life where you’re just doing the bare minimum. Is that really the life we want? I don’t think that I would be satisfied with that long term if you are or if that’s the best place for you to be right now, it could be that that’s where you need to focus with work because you’ve got all these other personal things going on.

Amazing. I’m right there with you, but I just want to plant the seed that it’s something that we might want to have a look at. So why might we want to do more in our work? When we say the job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave. It kind of predisposes that if you do more, it’s only under the context of trying to get love from your job, which that’s one reason why you could do more. But there’s totally other reasons why you could do more than the requirements. And I think the main reason to do it is for you, like you are maybe doing more than the requirements.

You’re offering more, you’re providing more value, but who is benefiting from that? Besides, of course, like the patients And I mean, we could say like if you’re doing more, maybe you’re generating more income for the practice or something, but really it’s ultimately for you, it’s for professional growth, it’s for feeling like you’re making a difference in the world. It’s for feeling like you contribute, that you provide value, that you have some purpose, that there’s a reason why you get up every day. All right. So my suggestion is to do it for you and not for the job to do it for you, because then you get to feel good. You get to feel fulfilled.

You get to feel satisfied. And to me, that feels way better than apathetic, indifferent, resentful, withdrawn, resigned, or combative. Which were the thought or the feelings that came up for me when I thought that original thought The job doesn’t love you, so do the requirements and leave. And so I think this is something really, really interesting to consider. You know, I do want to offer to you that if you’re looking for permission to do the requirements and feel good about it, then I grant those to you. You get to feel good about the work you do, whether it means doing more or not.

But I also do know that at a certain point we’re looking for more, and I think that sometimes we end up burning ourselves out in other ways because we feel like so dissatisfied and unfulfilled in our work that we’re like trying to, you know, find side gigs and start a side business or do all these other things, which I have no problem with at all whatsoever. But are we doing that because we’re seeking that fulfillment, that satisfaction? You know, that can also create burnout when we’re totally stretching ourselves thin. It could also be that we create fulfillment and satisfaction in our current work environment, and then we decide from there what else we want to do. And that’s just for fun and extra, right? So that’s another way of looking at it. So in summary, the reason to do more is because you get to feel good, because you get to know that there’s a reason why you’re here.

It’s because you’re making a big difference. You have a purpose, you have a direction, you have a reason to get up every day and you are making a big difference. I remember hearing about people who had these corporate jobs and they were like vice president of X, Y, Z, things, stuff like I didn’t even really understand what they were talking about because they didn’t understand the corporate structure and then finding out, you know, like they’re working for whatever company that produces things that we can really argue hurt the world, you know, like it’s really not good for people.

And I remember just thinking, gosh, I’m so glad that every single day I get to do my work and know that it makes a difference, I get to directly see the value of the work that I do, that I get to go into a patient interaction, help them as best as I can. And leave, knowing that I gave them what I could. And that was great. And I think that’s actually one of the things that can be pretty unique and uniquely awesome about being a doctor. And sometimes we need to have that perspective, right? Sometimes it’s easy to think that we’re cog in the wheel. And trust me, I get that I’ve had those feelings too. But that might be a cog in the wheel in a larger systemic kind of standpoint.

But in your individual interactions, the work that you do, it’s extremely meaningful. It’s extremely meaningful to the patient on the receiving end, whether you actually interact with them personally or not. And so remembering that can help you to generate more of those feelings of satisfaction and value and fulfillment and all the good things that we want to feel when we’re putting so much of ourselves into a task or a career. So with that permission granted, you get to think and feel however you want. But I do think that we can just make it a little bit better.

What if we made it just 5% better? What if we made it just 1% better? Just a little bit more acceptance, a little bit less resistance, a little bit more opening up to seeing what’s good and maybe spending just a little bit less time in. I don’t mean it in a bad way, but wallowing. Sometimes we wallow. We all do. I do too. Nothing to be ashamed of. All right, my friend. I have so enjoyed talking to you. I feel like it started raining even harder. And so what a fun podcasting experience. I hope you have a great rest of your week and I will talk to you when I get back. Have an awesome one. Talk to you soon. Bye. Bye. Ready to start making progress on your weight loss goals for lots of free health. Go to, and click on Free Resources.