By the age of 15, I already knew how I wanted my life to turn out. I had a plan; a timeline.
- Graduate high school by the age of 18
- Graduate college by the age of 23
- Become a doctor by the age of 27
- Married by the age of 29
- Buy a house by age of 30
It was all going according to plan until it became time for me to study for my 1st Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE Step 1) after completing 2 years of medical school in the Caribbean (yes, the Caribbean–that is a separate post altogether). It was a very difficult time for me. I was forced to deal with some very harsh realities. I went through a period of doubt when I doubted everything! My career choices, my daily decisions including my faith. I watched as my peers “enjoyed” life and their freedom; partying and traveling. Of course, they had all chosen very different career paths than mine, but the feeling of missing out on the fun in life did not subside. It was a daily struggle to continue studying and to keep hope alive. There were many breaking points, moments I cried because I was so unsure of the next step. Suddenly, I realized that I was experiencing what is described as the quarter-life crisis.
The quarter-life crisis usually occurs between ages twenty and thirty. A post from The Boston Globe (2004) states that the quarter-life crisis occurs after entering the “real world”. This is when people start to experience the feelings of being lonely, scared, lost, and confused about the proper steps one should take towards becoming a “successful” adult.
OH MY GOSH! This is what I was experiencing!
I tried to comfort myself in different ways by saying things like:
- “It won’t be this way forever”
- “The path you have chosen is great and there is so much honor in it”
- “You can’t let your family down”
- “You won’t be happy doing anything else”
YES! All of these things were true. It will not be this way forever. I had spoken to many medical students and doctors who confirmed that there is life after Step 1. I found peace in knowing that this is something that I really wanted to accomplish. I had no plan B. I HAD TO SURVIVE BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Okay, well not by any means but, survival was my only option.
So, I decided to do what I do best :)! I came up with a plan. The number one item on the list was “STICK TO THE PLAN”. See, it is very simple to come up with a plan, especially if you are someone like myself. Actually sticking to the plan well, that is the most difficult part. I am sure you can imagine that especially with all of the New Years Resolutions that have come and gone un-accomplished.The Key to sticking to the plan is taking it a step at a time. For example:
- Come up with a goal that you would like to accomplish within the month
- Within that month’s goal make weekly goals
- Within each weekly goal make daily goals
- Within each daily goal make hourly goals
And by just sticking to the hourly goals you’ll soon realize that you have completed your month’s goal.4 things to keep in mind:
- Plans change and that is okay. Do not stress or start to freak-out, take another shot at it. If the original plan does not work come up with a new one.
- DO NOT COMPARE YOUR PROGRESS WITH OTHERS. There are many different roads that lead to the same destination; stay on your course.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. Take ideas from others and make it your own.
- Lastly, keep in mind that God has a plan for you even if you don’t have one for yourself.
So, I managed to survive my quarter-life crisis with these simple tools. I know you will too, just remember – STICK TO THE PLAN 🙂
Photo credits: Graffiti.vukki.net