In Defense of Dissatisfaction

This piece is about dissatisfaction and introspection. If these things make you uncomfortable, good. Because only when we are honest with ourselves do we harness the power to change our lives.

Many years ago, a friend shared the Holstee Manifesto. It came at a particularly salient moment in my career when I was uncertain about what to do next. Yes, even physicians can feel uncertain about their careers.

Before I share my story, take a moment to read the Manifesto. It’s worth it.

Source: Holstee
The Manifesto is the Holstee company’s mission statement. The founders wanted to create a company that aligned with their values and that made a positive impact on the world. They wrote this mission statement “to create something they could reflect back on if they ever felt stuck or found themselves living according to someone else’s definition of happiness.”

When I first read the Manifesto, I was at a critical juncture in my career. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but in truth I was dissatisfied with my role as an academic physician. By all measures, I had achieved my dream. I graduated from Harvard, was practicing medicine at one of the country’s best hospitals, and was surrounded by the best mentors in the world. It felt selfish to say that I was dissatisfied.


My feelings of uncertainty and dissatisfaction were real. I came to appreciate that the academic path that I was on, while incredible, just wasn’t my path. Everything I had achieved was still invaluable, and without those experiences, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I realized I could use my skills in a different way, and at the same time still help make a difference in people’s lives. I just had to find my own path.

After much introspection, I took a risk and leapt from academia into the entrepreneurial world. Though I still see patients, I spend most of my time as Chief Medical Officer at AbleTo, where we help people change their lives every day, using technology to enable the delivery of high quality and evidence-based mental health care that integrates both physical and emotional health. And I get to serve as an advocate for mental health as a critical part of overall health.

Dissatisfaction is uncomfortable. But there is no shame in acknowledging it. In defense of dissatisfaction, a little discomfort can be a good thing. It makes you stop and think. It makes you change. The first time I read the Manifesto, it felt as if a hand had emerged from my laptop and grabbed me by the shoulders. I love helping people become happier and healthier. I love changing people’s lives. And now, that’s what I do all the time.

The Power to Change Your Life

If this resonates with you, and you are looking for a place to start your own transformation, ask yourself these questions. The more uncomfortable the exercise, perhaps the stronger the need for change in your life.

1. Am I happy?

2. Am I living according to someone else’s definition of happiness?

3. Am I being honest with myself?

If you find that you are dissatisfied, don’t be discouraged. You are just embarking on a journey to truly change your life for the better. As the Manifesto reminds us, ‘Do what you love, and do it often.’ Have the courage and tenacity to listen to your self and create your own path. You have the power to change.

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