Alignment: it’s more than straightening teeth

In the first of her brand new column, Nadia Ahmed discusses her challenging journey to self-development, and the importance of living in alignment with your values.

In the first of her brand new life coaching column, Nadia Ahmed discusses the importance of living in alignment with your values.

When did you last pause during a hectic working week to reflect on your goals whilst juggling the demands of family life and being a dental professional? Have you taken a moment to think about whether you are living in alignment with your values? Ever thought about your true purpose?

These are just some of the areas I explore as a certified life coach.

I have a keen interest in self-development and working with others to attain a state of true alignment in all aspects of their lives in order to reach their goals through their full potential and conquering invisible barriers that could be holding them back. As busy dental professionals, we often continue on a treadmill of successful career progression but may not give time to other areas of our lives.

The purpose of this article is to introduce life coaching, describe my journey to coaching and inspire you to look deeper and check-in with yourself to identify your values.

Overcoming challenges

‘Self-development’ has become a trending term, with many books on the bestseller shelves in shops. But how many really understand what this ‘vogue’ may be?

Having spent five years at dental school followed by a further thirteen years to reach my career goal to train to be a consultant orthodontist, I reflect on the high points and challenges faced in my career journey. I also look ahead to continue to work towards many more goals in all areas of my life.

I look back at the moment I trained myself to use my left hand and developed skills to be ambidextrous. This is after a road traffic accident (RTA) at the end of my first year of specialty training left me facing the prospect of possibly never being able to return to dentistry, with the added pressure from the training programme.

I realised then that life’s challenges certainly come our way to build resilience and determination. Following this, I never looked back and was determined to overcome whatever it took to reach my career goals – now with the added bonus of being able to switch to a left-handed unit if my dental chair breaks down!

Having had to extend my training following the RTA, my membership in orthodontics (Morth) examination in 2016 was truly a moment I will never forget. Having fully recovered from my injury (by the grace of God) I now had a new lease of life.

I wholeheartedly love my job and believe that choosing orthodontics was my best career decision, well worth all the effort and hard work.

Finding hidden interests

However, years of working long hours in training with little spare time to explore personal interests made me realise there was certainly so much more to discover.

Following this, I identified that I had many goals outside of dentistry and discovered hidden interests I never knew I had.

Since then, over the past few years, I have started yoga teacher training. I’m a proud student of the largest international dance academy, ‘SHIAMAK Bollywood Dance,’ I have successfully reached the interview stage of the ‘Great British Bake Off’, started art classes with my first canvas being exhibited in the Peterborough Cathedral, and decided to climb a few mountains – with a true realisation for a life outside of dentistry!

I believe the toughest paths lead us to the most beautiful destinations. In addition, certain life events I have faced have led me to my interest in life coaching and to complete certified training in 2022.

Life coaching

So, what is a life coach? Neither a therapist nor a counsellor. A life coach will lead you into awareness through a series of empowering questions to follow a journey to reach your goals, help you to fill the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and identify where growth is needed.

The first stage of consulting with a coaching client involves considering the coaching ‘wheel of life’ to assess where you are now and where you want to be in every area of your life.

Some examples include:

  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Wellbeing
  • Finance
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Recreation
  • Hobbies
  • Personal development.

Following this, the client can map out the areas they wish to work on and set goals to reach a higher level of fulfilment in these areas.

Identifying our values is key to reaching true contentment and, ultimately, should guide all our major life decisions, including career decisions. I have found this to be a life-changing exercise that can lead to true reflection about whether a particular job role is the right one and to guide the decision-making process.

If, for example, your values are health, wellbeing and family but you are working long hours with little or no time for exercise, a healthy diet and family time, then is this role really in ‘alignment’ with your values?

Navigating through life

Coaching helps us to navigate our way through work and life. Life will present challenges and often we may face a need for re-direction or re-evaluation and how to find that direction to where we want to be.

In coaching, the ‘quest’ is often how to find a ‘best’ direction. The ‘best’ meaning one that will move us from where we are to where we want to be in the future. Coaching can help us to achieve a deeper awareness of where we want to be and what actions we need to take.

I hope this has inspired you to look within yourself and identify whether you are truly aligned with your values in order to ‘live your best life’!

This is the first in a series of monthly life coaching articles, which I am excited to share with you.

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