Early in my career, I jumped at nearly every opportunity that came along. I wanted to impress everyone, and I wanted to prove to them that I deserved to be there. At that point in my career, I felt it was important to seize every chance because, even though I had endured years of school and training, I hadn’t yet figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Taking on every challenge that came along was extremely enlightening. It allowed me to realize what I loved, what I just liked, and what I could barely stand doing. This approach also connected me with many people from so many different specialties. Eventually, it simply became exhausting.
When I took on a task, and I took on a lot of them, I wanted to do everything to the very best of my ability. I would eventually learn that you have to put even more energy into doing things you do not actually like. While the networking and building human connections aspect of my work was incredible, it became very clear that I could not go on doing work I had no interest in.
Now I approach new opportunities a little differently. Instead of eagerly jumping in, I take some time to consider what this might mean for my schedule, my well-being, and my overall goals. Burnout is very real, and I’m already a very busy person. For new chances like this, I evaluate them in terms of my Five Ps: Pay, Promote, Passion, Push, and Purpose.
What is the financial compensation? Is there a budget attached, and is it reasonable? For many opportunities I research the pay history to find out what my white, male counterparts would make for the same position. When it comes to pay, remember: If you don’t ask for it, you’ll never get it.
Will this opportunity promote me? Some people are okay being right where they are in their career, but others are still eagerly climbing that ladder. Sometimes opportunities are exactly what you need to take you to the next level, regardless ofpay or how satisfying they might appear.
Will this opportunity push me? Will it challenge me? Will I learn something new, or will it force me out of my comfort zone? Opportunities that push you are often the ones that help you grow.
Am I passionate about this opportunity? Is it something I love doing so much that I’d do it for free just because it enriches my life? In the past, opportunities like mentoring or health advocacy have been obvious choices simply because of my passion for them.
Does this opportunity align with my Purpose? We all have a purpose on this earth and opportunities that present themselves to us are the best when they align with our purpose.
After asking these five questions, if a given opportunity meets one or more of my Five Ps, I say yes! Otherwise, I have to pass. Just setting boundaries isn’t enough, you have to work to enforce those boundaries as well.
Protect your peace, Queens, and Kings.
“The views, opinions and positions expressed within this blog are those of the author(s) alone and do not represent those of the American Heart Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The Early Career Voice blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.”
Nasrien E. Ibrahim, MD is an Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologist and Director of Heart Failure Research at Inova Heart & Vascular Institute. She is interested in biomarkers, cardiac remodeling, access to healthcare, understanding mechanisms of health inequities, and women’s leadership in academia. She loves college basketball, hip hop, the beach, and LeBron James. You can follow her at @DrNasrien