Re-invent yourself

Content provided by a guest contributor.

MariaPhalime.jpgDr. Maria Phalime always dreamt about becoming a doctor and went on to make that dream come true. But when she discovered that a childhood dream may not translate into an adult reality, she went on a journey of rediscovery that brought her to where she is now, an entrepreneur and owner of Nourish Research and Consulting.

"For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. I’d seen all the TV shows (which in those days were the likes of St. Elsewhere and Doogie Howser MD) and I imagined myself in a white coat, stethoscope draped around my neck, bringing people back from death’s doorstep.

Going on to graduate from the top medical school in the country was a proud moment for me, my family and friends, and a culmination of years of hard work. But when I started to practice as a qualified doctor, it all began to unravel.

The theoretical elements remained interesting but the day-to-day activities held little appeal. Even in the “greener pastures” of the UK the work of being a doctor was far removed from what I had imagined. What had happened?

It took four years of intense soul searching for me to arrive at the answer. My childhood dream did not work for me as an adult! I needed to go back to the drawing board to find what would work for me.

One door closes and another one opens

The journey to reinvent myself started with answering the fundamental questions I had neglected to ask myself before. Who am I? What do I want? What do I want my life to look like? How do I want to spend the bulk of my waking hours? What impact do I want to have on others?

This selfish approach was challenging for me as a doctor who had learned to think of others’ well-being first (and being a woman accustomed to nurturing others didn’t help!).

I spoke to many people who were successful in fields outside of medicine, I studied further, and I acquired new skills that have enabled me to re-create my life. I am now a business owner, consultant, business match-maker and mom.  

I own and manage Nourish Research and Consulting, a Cape Town based consultancy specializing in business match-making, economic development research, project facilitation, and SMME support.

Together with our associates we have extensive experience in investment promotion and facilitation, economic development, qualitative research, and enterprise development. Our clients include international companies interested in doing business in South Africa, government departments, local municipalities, economic development agencies and SMME support organisations. We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver meticulous service and add value to clients and their businesses.

It’s a long way from stethoscopes and antibiotics, but this life works for me. I am able to fulfill my responsibilities as a provider, wife and mother, doing work that I enjoy and that contributes to growing local businesses and our economy.

As women we are faced with numerous responsibilities and some of us are fortunate enough to choose how we manage those responsibilities. For some it may mean taking on an extra job, for others it may be staying a home to raise children, others may need to move countries to accomplish their dreams.

Whatever challenges life thrusts at us, fulfillment comes from being able to design our lives into a form that works for us. And sometimes that means completely reinventing ourselves."

For more information, you can e-mail Maria at  

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