You’re at the top of your game. And you are perhaps thinking that this is not how you envisioned life at this stage in your career.
Many successful physicians are frustrated that they can’t find the time or energy to be present with their family and friends. They haven’t even thought about activities just for fun and creativity. Taking a vacation seems impossible without the practice coming to a screeching halt.
You may feel stuck and disillusioned, and embarrassed to even admit it. And there’s no one to turn to because there’s always the worry that being vocal may even cost you your career.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and you have the power to change it.
There are a lot of things about the system that can’t be changed overnight. But there are two simple things that successful physicians are doing for their own health and happiness. As a result, they are watching their kids’ soccer matches, enjoying relaxed dinners with their spouses, and finally taking vacations that have been on hold for years.
Better yet, they all do this without sacrificing career success, putting their practice on hold, or deserting their patients.
Number one: Be selfish
Yes, you heard me right. The airlines tell us to put on our own oxygen mask first before we help others. You must be whole and strong to be able to help your patients. You cannot function in overwhelm and stress forever. Duh, right? Here’s the deal – the odds are stacked against you. You are smart, driven, and caring. You sacrifice personal time for your patients and your career. You’ve been trained from the beginning to put your head down and power through pain and exhaustion.
If you can make the shift in perspective to really believe that taking care of yourself and your critical relationships must come first, you are golden. How to do it? Not by following your first instinct to work harder. Get help. Find a safe person to work with and identify where you can choose you first. Most successful physicians that I work with don’t have an extra ounce of energy to even think about it. Force yourself and find two places today to take care of you first. It’s an amazingly freeing thought to consider. Have your partner hold you accountable for shifting your thinking.
The second strategy is what is going to fuel that effort.
Number two: Put your hands in your pockets
You are most likely putting your head down and doing everything yourself for one of two reasons:
1. You don’t believe others can do things as well as you can. And it takes more time to teach someone and to ensure that it’s done right than to just do it yourself.
2. You don’t know how to create a motivated team for the leverage that you need. Of course, you don’t – leadership was not part of your education. You are an expert in your field and have learned enough about finance to create a thriving business. But you haven’t figured out what to do with the office staff chatting about their weekends while you race from room to room.
Doing everything yourself serves no one. It stifles creativity; it fails to develop more leaders and weakens your practice. And most importantly, it burns you out.
What to do instead? Stop doing everything yourself! Stop doing the things that you don’t have to do, that you aren’t even good at and don’t like. There are others that can do these things better than you can.
You might be saying that sounds ridiculous. I get it. Here’s how: Just say no. Create a vacuum. Identify where your zone of genius exists and jettison the rest.
Obviously, you’re not going to walk away from non-essential activities without a plan for someone else to pick them up. But the shock value of putting yourself first, and identifying what you aren’t going to do any longer, with a request for them to figure out the rest, is an incredibly powerful strategy.
Putting your hands in your pockets gives others on your team the opportunity to shine. They want to relieve some of your pressure. They will be proud that you asked for their help. They will welcome the challenge and opportunity to grow. You will create strength and resilience in the organization. Most importantly, you get time to breathe and take care of yourself for a change.
This is simple, but not easy. It’s a shift in thinking. It takes effort and a desire to change. Find an expert, a coach, a colleague, and get started now.
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