When you think of the word “freedom” what comes to mind? 

The ability to speak your truth? 

The freedom to make choices about your life? 

Being accepted as you are and feeling a sense of belonging?

Having your evenings and weekends open for family time? 

Being able to travel or live anywhere you want?

Getting to choose the people you spend the most time with? 

The ability to pay for things that are important to you without financial strain? 

Truly living your God-given purpose? 

We each have our own beliefs about what truly makes us feel free. 

As someone who highly values freedom (in fact it’s one of my core values) I have found it helpful to reflect on these five types of freedom – financial, time, people, location, purpose and defining them for myself. Each person may define these freedoms differently, but here is what they mean to me. 

Having financial freedom for me means having enough money saved and invested that I no longer “have to” work to pay my bills. I then “get to” work because I want and choose to and not because I’m worried I won’t have enough to cover the mortgage or other bills.

Time freedom, for me as an emergency physician, meant finally having my evenings and weekends free. It also meant not having to hope and pray that the scheduler would give me the vacation time I had requested. Another part of time freedom for me was the ability to attend all those recitals, games and performances my kids have that seem to pop up with just a few weeks notice.

People freedom means getting to choose the people whom I spend the most time with – my friends, extended family members, and clients. In an ideal world I would love to even choose who I work with or at least limit the time I’m exposed to some of the difficult personalities.

Now choosing who you work with may not be possible for all of us, especially if you don’t own your practice or are not in charge of hiring. Furthermore we don’t usually have control over the patients that we see. Even for non-physicians, I think it’s hard to have complete people freedom as we run into all sorts of people in life no matter what industry we are in.   

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Location freedom means I get to travel the world on my time off and perhaps also work from anywhere. For example in my case when I pivoted to practicing telemedicine I then had the ability to see patients from anywhere in the U.S. I was no longer limited by the hospital bylaw that said all staff physicians had to live within a certain distance from the hospital. 

The final freedom is purpose freedom and truly living out the purpose for which you were put on Earth. For some of us, medicine is our purpose and for some of us medicine may be a part of it but not the whole purpose. 

In my case, medicine has been a part of my purpose but my other big purpose is to help uplift and support women physicians as a life coach. (And that is what I get the honor and privilege of doing through Women in White Coats.) Understanding what your purpose is, owning it and also acting on it creates so much freedom because it allows you to feel aligned with what you know you were meant to do

Sister Doc, I encourage you to reflect on what freedom means to you. Take time to think about which of these five freedoms are most important to you in this season of life.

Archana Shrestha, MD is a physician, life coach, speaker and entrepreneur in Chicago. She is the Cofounder and Chief Wellness Officer at Women in White Coats and co-author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” book series. Learn more about her by going to MightyMomMD.com. She can be followed on Instagram @MightyMomMD