Fresh from the immensely successful debut event collaboration from the people at Vetsnet and Vetled, I thought I would share with you some of the take-home messages I learned in the ‘Purposeful Living’ seminar at WellVet Weekend 2018.
The session was delivered by the ‘Wellbeing and Stress Management Facilitator’, Louise Lloyd, who has 15 years of experience working with people and helping them to ‘overcome their limiting beliefs or fears to create the life they want to lead‘. Louise is a former competitive international eventing rider, and has first-hand experience not only of working alongside animals in a high-pressure environment, but also in dealing with her initial chosen career path not living up to her expectations.
During her session Louise was commendably open and honest about her struggle to come to terms with the fact that the life and path she had carved out for herself in the eventing world was not actually the one she had envisaged. That feeling of ‘It will get better when…’ meant that instead of living in the present moment, she was hanging on for things to improve in a vocation that simply no longer served her. Louise’s relatable story described how things were not always how they seemed, and that it took her a while to get to the root of why she progressively felt out of place in a familiar setting. Fortunately for Louise, and for the people she has gone on to help (including us attendees at WellVet Weekend!), she came to find her purpose! This session generated a lot of discussion from the vets and vet nurses who were present, and some excellent points and thoughts were shared on how we may come to (if we don’t feel we do already) live purposefully.
Here are some of the tips that I took away from the session…
Decide what the terms ‘purpose’ or ‘purposeful living’ mean to you.
Does it mean having goals, living in a way which aims to make a difference, or maybe having a bit of direction and going about things in ways which feel simply right to you? Is it related to feeling fulfilled, motivated, at ease, or worthy? The answers are likely to be different depending your individuality.
Think about your core values, and the things that you do that align with your core values, and some of the things that do not.
Your core values are the very essence of who you are, or would like to be, as a person, and should not be compromised. When we live in a way that mirrors our core values, we are likely to feel good in our own skins, and at peace with ourselves and our circumstances. When we face situations where we feel pressure to behave in ways that go against our core values, it can leave us in mental and emotional turmoil, and possibly even make us physically uncomfortable/unwell. Examples of core values to come out of the session included ‘honesty’, ‘compassion’, ‘feeling self-worth’, and ‘kindness’, but you can know what yours are simply by looking inside yourself.
One way to articulate what your core values might be is to think of yourself at 100 years old, looking back on the life you have had. What kind of life would you wish to be able to say you have led? Is it a loving one? Perhaps a generous one? Maybe a life where you kept your sense of humour regardless of what was happening? It may help to write them down.
“It’s not selfish to come back to yourself and your core values; that will be your best offering”- Louise Lloyd
Understand that your purpose, and indeed your goals, may change over time, and that this is ok!
A common theme during the session was how for many of us, being a veterinary professional formed a key part of our identity, and how the associations with our vocations can lead us to feel boxed in by the expectations of others and ourselves. Many of us diversify in our career paths, and the decision to do so can be a painful one. For instance, it may be the vet who always wanted to do equine practice coming to the realisation she is fearful of horses, driving the desire to switch to small animals only, or the vet nurse, who through the physical and emotional struggles of the job, has to come to terms with the fact that clinical practice is no longer for them. It can generate feelings that all of the hard work, finances, and dedication up until that point were a waste of time, and that is extremely disheartening. During the session we considered how any experiences leading up to the decision to move on were by no means a waste of time if they in fact helped provide guidance to ways to live purposefully. What could be considered a waste of time and energy would be to stick out something which made you unhappy and unbalanced.
Making the right decisions for ourselves and others is usually not easy! How we may do this with purpose is to reflect on how we are feeling, acknowledge any changes we may need to make, and try to move forward in a positive way. Whether you are happy or not in your role within our industry, remember, it does not define you! You are more than ‘just a vet/nurse/pathologist’, etc.
Have interests and hobbies outside of work
Find sports/crafts/causes/reasons for being away from your job that you are passionate about, and make them a priority in your life. (Obviously it’s yoga, right?!) Consider setting yourself goals in these areas. Maybe it’s always been on your bucket list to complete a triathlon, or climb a mountain? Perhaps you’re learning to knit and can aim to produce a finished item? It could be something like trying to make the social sports team training session every week, or getting involved with a local charity. Lend as much purpose to your personal goals as you do to your professional goals, and see if that work-life balance helps you to feel happier. You might be reading this thinking ‘to hell with goals!’, and that is completely fine! Just make sure you find some time for yourself to do whatever makes you happy outside of work.
So there you have it, the VetYogi interpretation of Purposeful Living! The key message in particular that I take away is how beneficial it is to touch base and remind yourself on a regular basis of your core values, so that you can live purposefully in a way that aligns with them.
If you would like to learn more, or feel that you may benefit from Louise’s help, see her contact details below:
If you enjoyed reading this and know someone else who would find it interesting, please feel free to share!
For more on the different sessions I attended, see The VetYogi Review and Experiences of WellVet Weekend 2018