This time last year there was no way that I could run 5km without stopping. Maybe it was just a change in heart, maybe it was because I’m coming up to turning 40, but I made the decision to do the couch to 5k program and pretty soon I was running 5km multiple times a week. I got up to doing a 10km run which I felt pretty good about. But I only did it once. I got complacent, quick.
I could make excuses about hayfever season and stuff like that, but honestly, this is classic behaviour for me. Throw myself into something to learn enough about it so that I can prove I can do it, and then let it wither over time or abandon it altogether. I get into ruts pretty quickly with things. I wouldn’t say I’m getting any better at avoiding them, but I am getting better at noticing that I’m in one and building some sort of structure to get myself out. If I want to of course. For some things, like cold process soap making, doing it a couple of times in my life time is quite ok with me.
But running is different. I really do enjoy it as a form of exercise and processing my thoughts. I never stopped doing it completely, but I have felt myself getting lazier and avoiding it more in recent times. So a re-jig was in order. Enter the Garmin training plan. I’ve got myself a virtual running coach. And it’s kind of fun, it’s changed things up a bit. I can still be lazy, of course, but there’s some level of accountability and challenge to do better. I like that. I know there are other options, like running groups and stuff like that, but running is a solo practice for me. So coaching it is.
As I think about this, I reflect on my post yesterday, about missing the professional development structure of the hospital environment. The healthy competitive environment where accountability and challenge are ever present. It was hard to stay in a rut when I was working in the hospital. There was always someone who was prodding me to do better, or a new challenge or opportunity opening up or job to apply for. But this isn’t how it is in the community-care sector. It’s so self-directed. So isolated. It takes some serious effort and self-reflection to keep growing professionally when no one’s really looking.
Take HMR/RMMR pharmacists for example. Everyone gets paid the same base rate, so long as you continue to get referrals and get through them at a rate that pays you a reliable wage then you’re doing ok. If the purpose of your work is to pay the mortgage then you’ll be fine with that. But if you’re looking for greater fulfilment in your work (e.g. have a more collaborative approach with GPs, take on more challenging cases, get involved in projects or teaching) or want to grow your business then you need to actively change things up. It’s not going to get gifted to you, you have to make it happen. You have to differentiate yourself by acquiring and developing skills and professional attributes. And it might not be that obvious how to do that if it’s sitting in your blindspot.
So what’s out there to help these people? From my personal experience and interactions with colleagues, I don’t think there’s anything that’s meeting these needs for the broader workforce. CPD points to meet registration criteria, sure, there’s tonnes of that. Support for early career development, there are many programs steered toward their needs. But we’re not all early career and we still need help with career development, and that’s totally ok.
I don’t know why it is this way that the focus seems to be so much on early career. Perhaps because it’s easier to get newbies ‘on the right path’ than it is to deal with disgruntled realists who are bordering on cynical. Well, bugger that. I mean, I’m obviously biased but I think us disgruntled realists have a lot to offer. We just haven’t got the right venue. Lets not wait for someone to gift this to us, lets build it ourselves.
Lets build somewhere that provides meaningful engagement with our peers where we can safely share our practice. Somewhere that values our contribution simply because we care about doing good work. Somewhere that offers a range of opportunities to challenge us to meet our goals and achieve greater fulfilment in our work.