Don't Forget to Remember: Reconnecting With Your Why

I have a confession. I am not a veterinarian. Being married to a veterinarian and friends with several others, I have, however, had a front-row seat to the hard work it takes for you to earn the title of doctor. I have witnessed the often unseen toll that a day of delivering one set of bad news after another takes on you. I have listened as you contemplated a career change when the burdens or abuse just feel too much to endure. And, I have walked with you as you figure out how to respond to a baseless and vicious online attack because you enforced boundaries or because you didn’t give the answer that was expected of you, regardless of how wrong or unreasonable that desired answer would have been. Your chosen profession is not an easy one. It can be a thankless one. So why did you choose this path? What was your why?

During a recent episode of his call-in podcast, John Delony, Ph.D, a leading voice on mental health and wellness, used the phrase “don’t forget to remember” when helping a caller work through some personal challenges. At first, I found the phrase to be puzzling but intriguing. The context of Dr. Delony’s use of this phrase was to remind the caller of the reward or benefit of certain decisions or actions as a way of reminding them of why they are trying to make a change. After some additional consideration, I began to find the phrase to be quite profound and motivating. Why am I focusing on the pain or discomfort of my actions when simply remembering why I am taking them is important and can be motivating?

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek says that “regardless of what we do in our lives, our why – our driving purpose, cause or belief – never changes.” So, regardless of whether your career is what you thought it would be right now – that part can be changed – the reason you pursued it hasn’t changed. So, why did you choose to be a veterinarian? If you are like most, you wanted to help animals. You wanted to be their voice when others couldn’t understand. You wanted to make a difference. Whatever your reason, it is yours. When you are struggling to see a reason to continue, don’t forget to remember why you started. Don’t forget to remember what it felt like when you were that kitten’s advocate in finding out why she was sick and you helped her get well.

Despite your best efforts, some people will post a scathing online review or say something unwarranted or hurtful about you or your team. It may not even be based in truth, but you won’t be able to avoid the stinging pain of betrayal it brings after you did everything you could to help their pet. Don’t forget to remember what it felt like when you were showered with the gratitude and joy of the little girl whose puppy you bandaged up after a mishap.

Even with all of your knowledge, the best equipment, the latest medications, and unwavering commitment to help every patient, you won’t be able to save them all. There will be hard days when you feel that the number you couldn’t help dwarfs the number you did help. Don’t forget to remember what it felt like when that one patient had the odds stacked against them, but, because of you, they enjoyed some extra snuggles and belly rubs and more afternoons meeting their beloved human at the bus stop after school.

Not every day is a great day. There are days full of frustration. There are days full of pain. There are days where you think it is time to pursue a different career. But…there are also great days, joyous and happy days, and days where you feel invincible because nothing could take you down. Don’t forget to remember those days. Don’t forget to remember that you are amazing. Don’t forget to remember that you are needed. And, don’t forget to remember that you make a huge difference.