4 strategies for physicians to make personal, professional gains

June 1, 2018

Four timeless recommendations to take action, make progress toward goals, and feel better about life and a career in medicine.

Throughout your career, you will encounter many recommendations, suggestions, and tips. You will find them in books, in articles, on the Internet, in emails and text messages, and everywhere in between.

Here are four “timeless” recommendations you can rely on when it comes to taking action, making progress toward goals, and simply feeling better about your career and your life.

1. Don’t just do something, sit there.
Yes, you read that correctly. It seems as if for ages we have been admonished to “don’t just sit there, do something.” Yet, when we reverse the wording, an even better solution emerges. Don’t rush into your next task. Take time for reflection.

Often, by slowing down and contemplating what we want to do next, we end up proceeding with more focus, more direction, and more energy for what’s on the horizon. The next time you feel the urge to jump into the fray, pause and consider if there is a better, more effective way to proceed. Often, there is.

2. Zag while everyone else zigs.
Giving heed to professional and health industry norms has its place. However, you do need to break away from the pack every now and then. Just because everyone else is “doing it” doesn’t mean it’s the best way to proceed for your practice and your career.

Yes, it might take a little bravado to periodically be a maverick. But what if that’s the approach it takes to move from where you are to where you want to be? To accomplish great things, sometimes you have to be unreasonable, or at least unreasonable to the degree that you break through the humdrum of how things are always done.

3. Focus or die.
Well, I don’t mean that you literally have to die. The observation essentially means you don’t need to be all things to all patients. If you’re a general practitioner, well, okay, maybe you do. Otherwise, delve deeper and deeper into your specialty area.

Become known for something. Become particularly adept at treating some kind of condition. Publish papers on it. Attend symposiums and speak on it. Hone and refine your methods. Share with others. When you know precisely what you’re doing, blazing a trail and being recognized for your pioneering efforts has its merits!

4. Honor your dreams, not your comfort zone.
It’s nice to stay in our comfort zones. It’s rewarding, pleasurable, easy, and generally less stressful than acting otherwise. However, honoring your dreams rather than your comfort zone will take you much farther.

Pursuing your dreams means sometimes forsaking what is comfortable or familiar for what is not. Proceed anyway. You can’t get to second base if you won’t leave first base. When you pursue your dreams, your comfort zone begins to expand.

If there is a common theme to the four suggestions above, it is that boldness often leads to breakthroughs. Yes, you might make a mistake and even raise an eyebrow or two, but the potential for tremendous gain also looms and is so worthwhile.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and a thought leader on work-life balance issues. He speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the work-life balance of their people. Visit breathingspace.com for more information.