031 | Slowing Down and Being Aware with Dawn Baker

sailing life
The Value Proposition of Self Awareness

Our guest first became interested in writing about wellness as a lover of language and outdoor athlete who experienced a major health crisis during residency training. Through her writing, coaching, and speaking, Dawn inspires others to develop their own individual practice of balance via self-knowledge and self-awareness. She has been featured on numerous podcasts such as The White Coat Investor and national syndicates such as KevinMD and Medpage Today. A board certified anesthesiologist, wife and mother, Dawn also enjoys travel, rock climbing, strength training, and yoga in addition to the simple pleasure of taking walks with her family. Dawn L. Baker MD, MS is the founder of PracticeBalance. 

To connect with Dawn Baker:
Website: practicebalance.com and (less active for now) stealthwealthfamily.com
Instagram: @practicebalance and @stealthwealthfamily
FaceBook: @DawnBaker

Key Takeaways

  1. Rock Climbing and trekking around the world changed Dawn’s  whole direction in life.  The experiences meeting all sorts of people through rock climbing led to a career pivot.  She realized she didn’t want to do a job where I was serving the same kind of person or making a thing better or faster. She wanted to marry science with service which led her to a career in medicine.  
  2. Rock climbing introduced her to all sorts of people who were very different, but united and a tight knit community that shared a common love of the outdoors and exerting themselves.
  3. Dawn struggled with focus and various other symptoms that she chalked up to the stress of the medical specialty, the culture and atmosphere she was in.  All of that stuff compounded in her finding out she had a brain tumor that was causing her to go blind literally and figuratively as Dawn stated “I wasn’t even self-aware enough to realize it.”  
  4. What are you currently blind to?  She was mad at herself. “You should know better.  Why did you not recognize this sooner?”  When this happened to her, it also became clear that she was veering off of the adventure path which was the reason that she switched careers to have that ability to do the adventures. She lost sight of that due to the competitive culture of her field.  What is your intended path?  Have you lost sight of where you thought you were going? 
  5. You don’t have to get a full blown health crisis to find yourself. Are you ignoring the signs that something might be wrong or off in your life?   The signs and symptoms for this might be feelings of guilt, frustration, blah, shame, or overwhelm.  
  6. Recognizing she lost her path made her stop and realize she needed to learn more about herself.  She needed to remember who she really was and the kind of principles that led her to that place and get back on the path she was meant to be on.  
  7. At the heart of adventure is doing something new, something that you’re not sure you can do, something that’s different. Recognizing you want something different than what life is prescribing can also be an adventure in fulfillment, contentment and joy.
  8. If you notice, many of Dawn’s adventures come with a testing period.  As she stated to “start small and see how it goes.”  In that process she has found that often her fears or worst case scenarios are unfounded. 
  9. Slow travel (either RV, sailing, or longer term Airbnb rentals) allows you to experience things differently.  You’re not in a hurry, it’s like your whole life is like a vacation, because you don’t have to go, go, go to get to where you want to be. Not to be cliche, but it’s more about the journey than the destination, because you don’t have this finite amount of time to spend there.  
  10. Many people are unaware of what can happen when you slow down, or might even be afraid of slowing down. Yet in those moments of nothingness is where later you look back and realize that that’s where you had a revelation about yourself, confirmed something about yourself that you now know to be true.  Slowing down can confirm or offer clarity for what you need in your life.  
  11. There are no shortcuts to self-awareness; it is a constant process.  We all have this path that we think should be linear to progress.  Life isn’t linear.  It’s a series of setbacks, peaks and valleys and maybe even squiggly lines.  Being self-aware is critical to making adjustments when you see things are headed in a direction that aren’t in alignment with who you want to be.  It’s a practice. 
  12. If you realize you aren’t sure where you are headed of if the rails you are on are the right ones for you yet alone how to get back on them, Dawn shared some free resources on her website: Practicebalance.com or the framework and system Heidi uses is Best Year Yet (ordinarysherpa.com/byy) and would be happy to coordinate next steps. 
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