The Biggest Mistake I Made In My Career

I need to get this out in the open.  I’ll be the first to tell you that physical therapy is awesome and that you can have an insanely rewarding career in it.  But, I didn’t always feel that way.

I’ll be honest, the moment I passed my SCS exam, was the exact moment I also realized everything I hated about physical therapy.

Let me explain...

So here’s what my path (and many of our paths) in physical therapy look like:

Get into grad school ☑

Finish clinicals ☑

Graduate PT school ☑

Pass the boards ☑

Complete a residency ☑

Achieve board specialization ☑


Suddenly I reached the end of this LONG plan with no where else to go.  I achieved an incredible amount, but shortly after passing the SCS, I found myself dissatisfied.  

As I was working toward residency and board certification, I rarely had time to think about anything else except the finish line.  I had tunnel vision - get to the end. But when it ended, my blinders were ripped off.

I think this happens to most health care providers at one time or another.  Maybe it is right after graduation, maybe it is years in, but at some point I think we all ask ourselves is this all there is???

The answer is NO, there’s so much more… but it is not that simple and I’m not done with my story, so hold on.

I actually spent months convinced that my career was destined to be average.  Confined to a schedule of patients, with very little variety, frequent monotony, and a salary with a lower ceiling than expected.

But, there is something innately wrong with this way of thinking.  Not everyone has an average career. There are plenty of people loving their career in health care, making well above the national average, and doing it on their own terms.

These are the Rebels.  These are the individuals that didn’t make the mistake that I was making and that so many of us make.

The biggest mistake of my career was thinking that my career was something to obtain rather than something to create and build.  The Rebels didn't look for the perfect job, they created their Ideal Career.

When you look at even the BEST 8-5 job, there is still room to want something more or something different.  I know because I have one of those jobs. I work for a clinic that has a good caseload, great leadership, allows me to treat how I want, and makes it easy to go into work everyday.  But after obtaining my SCS, I still found myself wanting more.

It is not about finding a particular job and you don’t need to be self-employed. But we can’t expect a job to give us everything we want in our career, we need to create it.

There are three HUGE differences between working a job (even an awesome job) and creating your own career.

In a job you get to use some of your skills and fulfill some of your interests.  An Ideal Career incorporates ALL your skills and allows you to pursue ALL your interests.  It is very difficult to feel burnt out, bored, or frustrated when you get to do many of the things that you enjoy.

In a job you experience security and have predictable days, but that comes with a sacrifice.  An Ideal Career allows you to shape your day to uphold what is most important to you.

In an Ideal Career, you have control. Because even if you work for someone else, you see yourself as your own brand and seek to promote yourself without waiting for permission.

I’m not arguing that you should leave your job and I loved my previous jobs.  But, you do need to start taking steps to create the Ideal Career that’s right for you.  You may have or find the perfect job, but you can create your Ideal Career.


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