October 12, 2022

Going through . . . something

I am definitely going through some sort of difficult transitional period. Part of me feels rather self-compassionate about it. The other part is like GIRL WASH YOUR FACE (lol, but you know what I mean).


I am nervous about the economy. Podcast sponsorship deals seem to be thinning out, which is understandable but also scary when this is part of my personal business plan.

I am anxious about whether ~40% is going to be adequate time to build the business I am envisioning. Thus far my 60% schedule has resulted in 1 day of ‘free time’ (last week Weds was a holiday and this week I am on call, though thankfully only covering weekdays).

Due to the above (I think?), I have been doing a lot of spinning out. This has led to a lot of second arrow drama and also third arrow coping mechanisms. (I finally understood both of these concepts after reading Carla Naumburg’s excellent book, You Are Not A Sh$*ty Parent – and I was lucky enough to get to interview her for BOBW!).

Second arrow –> self doubt, self loathing, guilt

Third arrow –> scrolling, crappy eating, etc

(And maybe I even have a 4th arrow which is that #1, #2 and #3 make me grumpy/impatient towards the kids and then I feel guilty about THAT!?)

((Do I sound like I need to go back to therapy? Maybe.))

Anyway. I am working on breaking the cycle. Big picture is that I’m so grateful to have been able to make a choice about my career. I will perform the self-care acts that make me feel good today including my run, listening to music, journaling, etc. I will recognize catastrophizing thoughts (is that a word?) when they occur and try to just notice them and move on. I will give myself compassion but move actively in the right direction. This is probably just another one of those things I need to get through, and will come out on the other side!


  • Reply Amy October 12, 2022 at 6:18 am

    Well, it’s not just a major life transition, it’s also an identity transition of sorts. It’s totally normal to struggle through it and to feel weird and uncomfortable and out of sorts. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or that you’re a terrible person who made a bad decision. Not at all! It actually makes you a normal, thoughtful person who is in tune with her inner life.

    One thing I tell myself when facing a transition is that you will get used to the new pace of life (so to speak). There’s an adjustment period when things change, but soon they won’t feel different anymore — it will just feel like your life. You will get through this and come out on the other side. You’re doing all the right things right now, so keep it up and have patience and self-compassion.

  • Reply Grateful Kae October 12, 2022 at 6:52 am

    Pssst…. it’s only the FIRST week! Give yourself some time! It’s a big change, both in routines, figuring out how it will look, and mentally/ emotionally. I remember going through a weird phase when I transitioned to working from home in 2016. In my head, I had built up that I would have ALL this extra time, because no more commute! But really, that ~35 minute commute on either side isn’t actually that much time, especially when you now have the “flexibility” to do whatever you want. (like, sleeping in an extra 35 minutes! lol.) Not surprisingly, I found I still felt pressed for time many days, and those extra minutes seemed to disappear into thin air half the time. Sometimes I swear I get more stuff done when I’m actually busier! It’s a weird phenomenon. Anyway, you are well organized and great with time management, so I have no doubt you’ll settle in before too long.

  • Reply Emily October 12, 2022 at 7:18 am

    Was going to make a comment to agree w Grateful Kae – you literally just switched to 60% time! I realize you want to ‘start how you want to continue.’ But at the same time you have been going going going for so long I think it is ok to enjoy the fall and take a little time to experiment and figure this out. Have faith you will!

    • Reply Susan October 12, 2022 at 8:48 am

      Same! Be gentle with yourself, Sarah. If one of us called in asking for planning support in this transition, what would you tell us? You will have several iterations of how your days flow. Embrace them and leave space for the magic. And drink your water.

  • Reply Shelly October 12, 2022 at 7:22 am

    I can’t wait to listen to that BOBW with Carla Naumburg as I think we all need that message regularly. This is a big transition. You have done so many years going full tilt and then with this being more unstructured as you sort out your plans, it is natural to feel discombobulate. Also as you go, there will be opportunities in growth for the business that you just won’t see right now. I hope you can schedule in some transition time, which feels like a weird thing to schedule but it can help you to see on paper that this is a time to brain storm and plant seeds which on the outside doesn’t look productive but is really important. Be kind to yourself as well through this shift!

  • Reply Gwinne October 12, 2022 at 7:23 am

    Yes to all this. I am in a similar moment although mine is more limited in time, as I’ll have another shift in Jan. But it’s taken some time to allocate my “free” time to the projects its intended for. As well as do the mental work of exploring the identity piece. be gentle with yourself,,

  • Reply Elisabeth October 12, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Yes, yes, yes. Having just had a spouse come off sabbatical, I know that the transition period can be tough! It’s good and necessary to make changes at various points in life/career, but it is still jarring and requires a lot of adjustments.
    Thanks for being open and honest about the struggle! And I agree with other commentors who point out you JUST made the switch. You have such high expectations for yourself/your time, but I can guarantee you’ll fall into new (awesome!) routines in short order.

  • Reply Amy October 12, 2022 at 8:11 am

    I agree that you should be compassionate with yourself. You’ll find your groove.

    For the financial aspect… have you considered starting a patreon? It might be a way to have more consistent income for your projects. I follow an illustrator/YouTube creator for $4 per month. She usually gives some blog posts into what she is working on along with early access to her weekly video. Another I am considering following on there uses Discord to have book discussions. Just an idea if you find that sponsorships aren’t consistent.

  • Reply Amanda October 12, 2022 at 8:32 am

    Just chiming in to say that there’s no room/no reason for any of that guilt you’re feeling!!! Literally everything you do in your productive life (including blogging and post casting) helps others! If you’re shifting a bit more toward one it is nothing to feel guilty about.

  • Reply MP October 12, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Totally agree with comments above (transition is so new)…one other idea to consider…if there was a tricky patch that came up when you thought $ was going to be super tight..wonder if there would ever be a pay to pick up extra hours while someone is out on vacation etc as a float…not permanently, just short term IF it came to that.

    Also, as a mom of early teens, even if your creative side does not fill the total $ spot you envision, honestly there is so much more homework help, running around to events etc you are likely to do as your kids get older, I think just dropping your hours do you can be less stressed/more present is something most parents consider regularly. Parenting is hard.

    LOVED the interview with Carla. Could SO relate to so much of what she had to say.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns October 12, 2022 at 9:06 am

    I’m almost done with the BOBW interview and am really enjoying it. I’m planning to send the book to a friend that I saw last night because she literally said she feels like the worst mom at times.

    Transitions are hard. Think of the transition you had going back to work after having kids. I always tell moms to give it time and to not make rash decisions because you would be making decisions based on such a short period of time. I think big transitions warrant at least 6-12 months before making a change. And I think therapy is a good idea, too, especially since some of these changes are possibly impacting your identity.

    As for the economic side, try not to freak out too much about the volatility we are seeing in the markets. We are experiencing a shift in interest rates that we haven’t seen in our generation as investors and while the returns are shocking, the long term outlook for growth in the US is excellent. And as investors, higher interest rates are actually a good thing as it’s way more attractive to go into fixed income now versus the last 10 years when rates were sooooo low. And I know you love your nanny but in a couple of years, you may be able to shift to a different sort of care schedule versus a full time nanny? So you could have some cost savings coming but that also might not be the case since you and Josh don’t have the most flexible careers. My best running buddy and her husband are both physicians and they decided to not get a nanny starting this year. Her husband is a hospitalist that works 0.6 FTE, I think, and she’s a full time pediatric urologist with OR time. Their kids go to after care and they are able to arrange their schedules so that not having a nanny works. So it could work for you guys, but Josh seems to have way more call than my friend does… And her husband doesn’t have call, but works weird shifts, like overnights, etc. Of course this is a sample size of 1, so this example could be completely irrelevant to you and you may value your nanny too much to consider changing your care plan, etc. But it could be an option down the road?

  • Reply Angie October 12, 2022 at 9:17 am

    When I became a full time SAHM it was so hard. I was a teacher for over 10 years and now “nothing”. Even though I didn’t make a ton of money, that’s why I started staying home because 2 kids in full time daycare wasn’t worth it, the loss of income was an adjustment at first. Then we got used to it and my husband’s job became more lucrative. It’s definitely an adjustment and I just started subbing to get back into teaching and now the whole family is adjusting to not having mom around 24/7.

  • Reply Lori C October 12, 2022 at 9:39 am

    Sarah thanks for sharing this. I can imagine I would be feeling the same if I were going through that change. Maybe tine to dive into some FI podcasts? I have found that choose fi or similar podcasts tend to calm me down a bit as they remind me a. how much I can scale back, how richly I am living and b. What my big picture long term life goals are. It also forces me to turn to financial spreadsheets which calm me in a weird way. Hang in there. Its an adjustment and totally normal to feel this way.

  • Reply CBS October 12, 2022 at 9:43 am

    It’s definitely a time of flux. When I took my high travel job, I woke up every morning at 4am wondering if I had ruined our lives. 12 months in, it’s totally normal and we’ve all adjusted.

  • Reply Stephanie October 12, 2022 at 9:50 am

    I’ve taken a break from working for the past 4 months and it’s been rough both emotionally and financially. I turned down a couple of job offers that weren’t going to be quite as flexible as I wanted, as well as having all the things happen to drain our savings (car repairs, house repairs, kids ER visits, etc.) when we thought we would be OK on one salary for a while. Was it a mistake for me to resign my last position when I did, before deciding on a new job? Was it a mistake to turn down the other job offers? We’ve survived it, and I’ve accepted a new job that starts next week.

    All this to say, it is completely normal to have a rough time with transition and give yourself grace and things will get better. I really enjoy your content and look forward to seeing what you are going to create.

  • Reply Diane October 12, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Oh man- I feel this transitional spinning every time I close a show and my schedule opens back up- so like four or five times a year. I usually give myself about week to spin and feel restless and unproductive and unfocussed and paralyzed by the lack of paycheck.
    One would think since I make this shift so often, I would be able to move between gigs and free time without the week of torpor, but I feel like my brain just needs some blank time to recalibrate after doing one intense thing for months. Then at some point I look around and realize that I’ve kind of been spinning and say, “Okay brain, I think we are ready to get on with doing things”
    The self care acts definitely sound like a good place to start!

  • Reply Amanda Millstein October 12, 2022 at 10:24 am

    Sarah — this makes total sense to me — I think your plan to both give yourself grace and also move actively in the direction you want to go sounds right. I often think of Anna from Frozen 2 (LOL) talking about doing “the next right thing.” I’m also a pediatrician and actually also going to be leaving clinical work to work full time launching a non-profit related to climate advocacy — without a salary at least to start. I wonder — is there any sort of support group for physicians/health folks who have left or are leaving a clinical job to do something non-traditional? I’d join it if so — if you’ve heard of anything please share.

    • Reply Emily October 12, 2022 at 12:33 pm

      Amanda this is so interesting! As a fellow in a medicine subspecialty am also interested in non-clinical options/career paths.

      • Reply Amanda October 13, 2022 at 12:46 pm

        Cool! What are you interested in doing? Would be very curious to find support spaces (maybe free of charge!) where people are having these conversations.

  • Reply omdg October 12, 2022 at 11:27 am

    I also would love to hear from other physicians who have left clinical work for non traditional careers. I think it’s natural to be in a funk after a major change like this. Give it a year or two, and if you still feel like this, maybe consider making another change?

  • Reply Kamala October 12, 2022 at 11:47 am

    Hi Sarah, we went through a major life change because my husband was kind of forced to leave his job for health reasons (not forced by his employer). We decided this with hardly any idea about how the future would turn out to be. I am a SAHM too so no income there. And if that wasn’t enough, the pandemic started. None of his business ideas could even start taking shape for 1.5 years. Then the pandemic eased, and he tried a few things, and faced a few major failures. But by God’s grace, things have turned better, and we feel more confident about the future now. Transitions are very very difficult. And they take TIME, a lot of time.

    I would suggest you to think of yourself as an explorer. Exploring opportunities, exploring different ways of doing things, taking up small experimental gigs. And with time, things will become clearer.

    Best wishes always.

  • Reply Coco October 12, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    i can totally relate as I transition to our new city/work/life in Jakarta. I guess it’s part of the transition process, better to digest it than hiding it. Tackle one concern at the time, at the end it’s all about our deep fears, which when peel it off, we realize that they are not true.

  • Reply Nandi Siegfried October 13, 2022 at 9:58 am

    Amanda and Emily, please take a look at my colleague and friend, Rachel Beanland’s website
    She does exactly this, help doctors transition from clinical medicine to other careers and life purpose.

    • Reply Amanda October 13, 2022 at 12:46 pm

      Awesome – thanks Nandi! I will check it out.

  • Reply AnonSAHM October 14, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    Sarah I am also a doctor and went from being in family practice to being a SAHM a few months ago. I am going to be honest and say I don’t like it. It was originally going to be a year long sabbatical but I am already making plans to go back to work. I was not working a lot but those 20 or so hours per week were a big part of my life/identity and I don’t feel like “myself” without it. I totally understand what you are going through.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger October 15, 2022 at 8:00 am

      So hard! But i guess on the plus side you got to explore and figure it out?

      For me it’s less feeling loss of an identity and more worry about whether I can “succeed” (whatever that means!) in the creative realm.

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