[Join us for this #AASChat on Tuesday evening, January 29th at 8:00pm Eastern]
An estimated 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions; the most common focus on diet and exercise, sleep, and other health-related behaviors. In the setting of many demands and little time, surgeons may be particularly challenged to stick to their resolutions. Based on my perspective as a surgeon and coach, here are my top ten tips for achieving your goals in 2019.
- Look at the Big Picture
Looking at the big picture is a great way to see the value of what we do. Working on one or just a few goals at a time is a great start, especially for one in the midst of burnout. However, notice that wellness and success truly covers very broad areas.
There is not enough time in the day to do everything expected of us. Clerical tasks that don’t need our level of training should be delegated to others – especially if they drain your energy. Even surgical workload may need to be shared with other colleagues.
Having a plan in place for the more likely possibilities will help you deal with situations as they arise with much less frustration. Some plans will apply to everyday things, while others apply over many months or years, such as life and disability insurance and retirement planning. Most plans require a cycle of reflection; well thought-out goals based upon successes, failures, potential barriers, and strengths; and adjustment of the implementation (actions).
- Bring It Back to Patient Care
Knocking out cases, completing rounds, and getting through clinic all matter. Working through the grind is not fun. Do your best to focus on the more satisfying and rewarding parts of patient care. Connect. Care. Get you know your patients, their joys and concerns.
- Get Creative in Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Eating healthier, exercising regularly, exploring meditation, and sleeping better are not simple in most surgical careers. When challenged by the work or culture, surgeons must be creative. Power naps, short mindfulness practices, mini or sporadic workouts, and healthy snacks are just a few examples of the many options you have. In general, quality usually outperforms quantity.
- Seek Professional Help
As physicians, we must practice what we preach to patients. As a community we must remove the stigma of “being human,” especially in mental health and encourage physicians to seek help when they need it. And until health information privacy applies equally to us, we need to continue our efforts to maintain confidentiality, oppose mandatory disclosure of private health information, and admit that we are all human.
- Try New Practice Models
Think outside of the box. Locum tenens, mission work, sabbaticals part-time are not the norm. So what! Find opportunities for rest and recovery from the hard mental, physical, and emotional work that we do. See those out there who have discovered an additional passion such as a side-gig or volunteering. Find your blend of possibilities.
- Build and Maintain Connections
Maintaining relationships with fellow surgeons, colleagues, and friends is great for your overall mental and emotional health. Having a network of support can also help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself in 2019. Lean on others for support when you need to, and pay it forward by offering your support as well.
- Aim for Rhythm Rather Than Balance
Balance can be hard to achieve for many, and often produces undesired results. Rather than chasing balance, focus on getting in YOUR rhythm, which prioritizes focus and quality. When you shift from one activity to another, adjust to provide your undivided focus on what you most want or have to offer in that situation.
- Flexibility of Your Resolutions
Resolutions are nothing more than goals. Rather than destinations, they can be guiding principles. As we learn what parts of our resolutions are working or not, we can be flexible and adaptable. We are trying to not give up on goals.
About Me and Coaching
I am a practicing Orthopaedic Traumatologist and Director of the San Diego Orthopaedic Trauma Fellowship. With over 20 years of experience in both academic and private practice, I have learned to cope with the ups and downs of being a performance-driven surgeon and even experienced some episodes of burnout during my career. Through my personal experience and research, I developed a methodology for performance improvement – The 8 PRACTICEs of Highly Successful Surgeons, techniques that address resilience training, professional development, leadership training, surgeon wellness and burnout prevention. I continue to learn and grow. I am driven by my passion to positively impact the lives of my patients recovering from injury as well as other surgeons to transform their habits inside and outside the operating room with the goal of creating sustainable, lifestyle-friendly surgical practices.
Continuing the Conversation
In our #AASchat (scheduled for Tuesday January 29th at 8pm Eastern), I hope we can learn from each other tips for making 2019 a healthy and fulfilling year.
As surgeons we need to keep and grow our skills, maintain and expand our knowledge, and do our best to provide high quality, efficient, and affordable patient care. As a community we can support one another in taking care of ourselves so that we can care for others. We will address the following questions during the chat:
- What are your New Year’s resolutions? If you chose not to make any resolutions, why not?
- What are your barriers to achieving your New Year’s resolutions? What are your strategies to overcome them?
- How do you predict your ability to achieve your resolutions will impact your ability to provide optimal patient care?
- How do you use social support of your friends, family, and colleagues to maintain your New Year’s resolutions?
- How can we use social media to support us in achieving our personal goals?