We are coming to the end of another year and it’s the time when you may be making decisions about what you want next year. It seems to be an opportunity to do things differently and set out on a new path.
In spite of a huge number of resolutions made at the start of the year most people fail to keep them more than a few days of a few weeks at most. Resolutions are your goals and you need to plan how you will achieve them.
I’ve made a decision myself recently: after fifteen years of coaching doctors I have decided to concentrate more on writing books and coaching programmes instead of one to one coaching.
What do you want to change or do differently next year?
You can make resolutions at any time. However there is the influence of others at New Year when your friends and family are asking you what you plan to do during the year ahead and so you may respond to the peer pressure to state your resolutions at this time too.
Trouble with New Year Resolutions is that they often don’t get kept for very long.
Before I stop one to one coaching I am offering just 6 people the chance to make the changes you want. CLICK HERE to find out more.
It’s always worth making resolutions even if you fail to keep to them. This is because doing so enables you to consider what you want different in your life and to at least start the process of change.You may not get to where you want but you will have at least acknowledged that you want to change something and once that thought has begun in you then eventually you will be able to make the change you want to make.
Let me help YOU make and MAINTAIN the change you want.
Create boundaries and do your very best to keep to them. However hard you try you can’t be perfect you can only be as good as you can be. That means learning when to stop and when to say ‘no’ if you are being asked to do something which you know either isn’t your job or you really don’t have the time or the skills to do it.
Decide how long you will spend worrying about a particular patient and when you reach your limit seek advice from colleagues. You learn by watching others and talking about what you find difficult. So stop worrying, identify the person who knows how to deal with the situation and ask for help and advice from them.
You don’t have to deal with every problem entirely alone. Talk to someone else about the parts of the job you find difficult and if necessary put aside time to learn the extra skills you need. This is better than struggling on for ages not really having much idea about what you are doing.
It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know what to do’ or ‘ I can’t deal with this situation, I need to talk to someone else about it.’ This is how you will learn what to do next time and it is the time-honoured way you can learn what to do.
Decide what can and can’t be achieved in the time available and set realistic goals. Plan to go home at the end of the day. The routine work will be there for you to continue next day. Learn to differentiate between the urgent and important, and urgent but not important (and who else could deal with those things) from that which is neither urgent nor important.
Place importance on your out of work life so that you don’t neglect it. There is a life outside of Medicine, even though your work takes a huge amount of time and energy, plan social events and don’t neglect your partner, friends and family. Be aware that life is more than Medicine and make sure you set aside some time each week to connect with friends and family and take part in activities completely unrelated to your work.
When you discover more balance between work and the rest of life you will feel better, have more energy, enjoy life more and get things into proportion.
There are three massive mistakes that doctors make that keep them feeling tired, stressed and frustrated.
Many doctors believe that overwork is part of being a doctor. They complain of a constant feeling of pressure and of frustration of not getting things done. not having enough time to do the things they really want to do. They neglect their lives outside of work because Medicine takes over their lives. The three mistakes the make are:
3. Neglecting your own health and well-being. This means looking after your body, mind and spirit so you can be happy and fulfilled. You can do this by eating healthily, taking regular exercise and connecting with spirituality, by connecting with nature, meditation, or in formal religious practice.
You cannot expect to be fit and well while eating junk food, never taking exercise, taking excessive alcohol and smoking and never taking time to watch a beautiful sunset or waves crashing on the shore.
This is important because when you are look after yourself you can better look after your patients. When you don’t care about yourself how can you give the best care to your patients? You could start by taking a walk each day; eating regular meals and avoiding unhealthy food and doing something outside to connect with nature.
2. Not finding the time to keep in contact with friends and family Relationships with people outside of your work environment are important because throughout your life there is a bond between family and friends that is very different from that between you and patients or colleagues at work. Usually friends and family are there for you, whatever the ‘ups and downs’ in your professional life, so don’t neglect these relationships. Even if separated by distance you can do this by meeting regularly or speaking on the telephone or via the internet.
1. Not taking ‘time out’ for rest, relaxation and re-charging your personal batteries. Even doctors are not mechanical machines and you need time doing something else apart from work. When you do this you return to work feeling refreshed and enthusiastic once again. Taking ‘time out’ means rest or recreation away from your work. This can be achieved in various ways: You could:
Take a few minutes between patients to close your eyes, concentrating on slow breathing in and out . You may want to think about breathing in relaxation and breathing out tension as you do this, or simply count slowly as you breathe in and out.
Get away from your clinic, ward or office for at least twenty minutes for a break during the day. Take the opportunity to take a walk outside especially if you can walk by a river or in a park. At the very least take a walk around the block.
Make a regular commitment to see a film each week or go to a concert or theatre : on your own can be as refreshing as with company.
Have a few days away, for a complete change of scene and a chance to really get away from it all.
Take several months away from work as a ‘sabbatical’
If you are an overworked and stressed doctor who wonders if there is anything you could do to be happier, more relaxed and have enough time to do things for yourself, instead of allowing the monster that is Medicine, eat you up, then here are some suggestions for you.
You can’t go on like this, because if you do then something has to give and that something will be your personal health and well-being so that you are unable to function as a doctor efficiently and effectively any more. This will impact on your ability as a doctor and the way you feel about your patients and your medical work and eventually can lead to burn out and having to leave the profession on health grounds.
Not only your medical work, but your life in general already can be affected when you are on the go all the time. This results in you finding it difficult to make decisions or decide what is best for your life now. Your relationships suffer and your self-care is decreased and you will feel frustrated and ineffectual. You may long to take some ‘time out’ but don’t know how or what to do!
What can you do to change your situation?
Leave the Medical profession completely, which might solve the problem yet feel anxious about what to do instead
Consider retirement yet wonder if you will be bored without the routine of work
Continue as a doctor and try to improve your work-life balance but don’t know how to
Free up more time for you – but don’t believe it is possible
Carry on as you are until you cannot cope any more and become completely burnt out
What could happen if you don’t care for yourself more?
Become more stressed and unhappy;
Get fully burnt out;
Be unable to enjoy Medicine any more;
Become confused about what to do next…….
You long for some space and time to:
decide what to do for you
discover for yourself that it is possible to be a doctor and live your life in whatever way you want…..
Life doesn’t have to be like that for you….
You can be:
find answers to your dilemmas
decide on steps to move forward…..
But HOW can you achieve this? You must:
nurture yourself because when you look after yourself you can better look after your patients
relax, reflect so that you can make decisions calmly and in an informed way
make new connections with parts of yourself which have been neglected for a while so that you become a whole person again, by exercising, stretching, being creative
connect with nature so that you find something beyond your day to day work
find a new way forward, which you hadn’t discovered before so that you are more confident about changes you decide to make
There is also a once only opportunity to discover new ways to connect and change in beautiful West Cornwall, UK, so you can be refreshed, relaxed and make decisions about what to do next.
You will experience being able to Connect and Change with:
Your body which will become energised, exercised and stretched with walking, yoga, relaxation….
Your mind, to be able to think more clearly as you have time to consider what to do next in your life as you spend time in nature, by the sea, learn about and experience mindfulness… and have the chance to use me and others as a sounding board to discover your own solutions.
Your emotions which will become calmer as you put things into proportion while watching the ocean in an area of outstanding natural beauty and have the opportunity for personal reflection and discussion with other medics and experience coaching as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.
Your creativity whichwill be awakened as you have permission to have fun and discover new ways to express yourself through art and music, and discover something new about yourself.
Your enjoyment which will be increased….as you enjoy bird watching, swimming, ….conversations….laughing….staying in a beautiful place just minutes from the sea, so you can relax and refresh your mind, body and spirit; and experience a day foraging (with an expert) for wild food then cooking and feasting on it!
When you connect with new experiences you will be able to make the changes you want and discover which direction to take next, within or out of the Medical profession, in order to live the life you truly want.
To take some time out just for you and discover what to do, for yourself, when you connect with parts of yourself you may have neglected…. find out more here:
Deb Boulanger who is a life coach shared tips on how we can operate at peak performance. She says “Until I learned how to take care of myself, I wasn’t able to serve those around me very well (and neither will you).”
This is such a vital message that many doctors need to hear and understand but instead shut their ears to how vital it is to care for yourself. Just as in the aeroplane the instructions in case of emergency are to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs, so it is with being a doctor: to give the best of yourself you must first look after your own health and well being.
Sadly too many doctors day they don’t have the time to do this – and as a result become more stressed and become less able to cope until one day they find they can’t cope at all and have to take time off because of ill health be it mental or physical or both.
You don’t have to be perfect but you do need to be the best you can be: and that happens when you take the time to look after all parts of yourself: body mind and spirit. You can define these words in whatever way you want, in whatever way is meaningful for you and also decide how you will care more for yourself.
It can mean anything from taking a few moments between patients to take a few deep and relaxing breaths, to exercising, be that at the gym, running, dancing or yoga to reading novels, to spending quality time with friends and family.
You can get a boost by coming to an event next April 2014 in Cornwall, UK. Find out more www.susankersley.co.uk/connectandchange but don’t delay places filling up and when they are gone, they’re gone!
I have a colleague who is writing a self-help book on burnout. She would be very interested in talking to any doctors or nurses who have experienced burnout or traumatic stress. If you, or anyone you know would be happy to share your experience, please email Sarah Kuipers on firstname.lastname@example.org and she will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time to call you.
: ‘The patient’s treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same.’ (C. G. Jung in Memories Dreams and Reflections)
Who do you turn to when you begin to wonder how you’ll get through the next few years? Do you believe seeking help and support will be seen as a sign of weakness? Do you make it impossible or very difficult for people to connect with you? Can you make connections? Do you feel vulnerable? Are you frightened about seeking assistance for yourself? Do you believe you have to cope on your own? Do you have to know all the answers? Do you hate to admit that you don’t know? Do you consider that others will think less of you if you admit ignorance?
Do you put obstacles between you and other people? Do you put up barriers to communication? Is it easy to enable a patient to tell you their most intimate thoughts and feelings but difficult for you to do the same to your Do you dread the phone ringing because you don’t want to speak to a patient? Are you going to wait until you are at crisis point? Who can support you now? Who can be there for you and accept who you are?
Is now is the moment to make changes to improve the quality of your life so that you can have time for family as well as patients, more time for your friends as well as your colleagues. You could have more time to enjoy being away from work doing things you haven’t done for years, such as going for a walk, a cycle ride, reading a book, painting, writing, any other almost forgotten hobby, whatever you’ve been saying to yourself ‘One day I’ll have time for such and such’ Now is the time to get more balance between your medical work and the rest of your life, the part of you that may have been submerged for years.
Don’t wait until you’re ‘burnt out’. Re-discover who you are. Start to make small changes right now. Be clear about what you have to do against what you ‘should ‘do. Do what you love to do. Teach others your skills so that you can delegate more to them to do some or all of the boring things you are doing now.
Do you think that you are indispensable and no-one else can do what you do? Suppose you are unable to do your work for some reason or another, what then? Someone else will take over. They may not do it the same way you do. They may not even do it as efficiently as you did. But they will do it their way and hopefully it will get done.
It’s OK to be ‘selfish.’ The word ‘selfish’ may have bad connotations. Start to look after yourself, physically and emotionally. Think about it meaning ‘self-care’ If you take more care of yourself and your own needs you will cope more effortlessly with the needs of your patients. Don’t wait until you have to find solace in drink or drugs. Don’t wait until you reach crisis point. Start now. Find someone who will encourage and support you unconditionally. Someone who won’t have any expectations of you but will encourage you to achieve whatever you want.
Who can you talk to about your frustrations and difficulties of overwork as a doctor in an environment of being undervalued and endless demands? Do you have a mentor who understands?
When you experience the power of support and encouragement rather than demands and intimidation you will be able to coach your patients to do whatever they need to do, rather than reaching for the prescription pad again to write up yet more tablets destined to be put in the back of the bathroom cabinet with the others. When someone listens to your concerns and acknowledges them as legitimate, you will become a better listener to your patients and hear more of their underlying issues and so be able to give them the help they need. You will be able to convey to them that they can make a difference to their own lives when they take responsibility for it.
Every small change you as an individual make will eventually help to change the system. Take courage, start to care for yourself , much more. What will you do differently today?
“We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more.” -Madame Swetchine,
PS if you want to care for yourself treat yourself to a few days away in April 2014 at Connect and Change (but hurry only limited places remain!)
Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day. Richard Louv
SInce overwork, stress and burnout are now so common amongst doctors, it’s vital to learn techniques to prevent these overwhelming you so that you can cope with life as a doctor.
The quotation says it all: spend time in nature each day then you will feel bette.
But how can you do this when you live and work in a big city, in a massive busy hospital? You might need to have your own piece of nature on your windowsill, or in a vase, or take the chance to get outside to a local park or gardens when you have some time. Discovering how to find that time is vitally important!
Notice how the changes in the different seasons affect you. Become more aware as you look at trees, plants, birds, ants and butterflies how you can, if you are open to the process, find messages for you from the nature around you.
For example there are messages about renewal and growth; about new life emerging from the barrenness of winter; the determination and the motivation and perseverance of migrating birds travelling vast distances to reach their goals.
You can see that there is always change, nothing stays the same in nature, yet things end and new beginnings start.
Reflect for yourself how nature can inform something about your own life?
What messages are you getting from nature?
Another way to be refreshed, and rejuvenated is to get away from your busy environment for a few days and stay with a small group of medics (who may or may not be working in Medicine) in an area of outstanding natural beauty in West Cornwall near Land’s End.
As a doctor who is fed up with the system but as someone who hopes your life will change on its own, remember that the power is in your own hands to make the changes you really want.
If you believe that stress and overwork must always be part of working as a doctor and that those can’t change unless someone else does something or the system itself changes, then think again.
When you do things differently then other things around you change too and eventually the system itself will change as your lifestyle as a doctor changes too.
So, the best way to initiate change is for you to do something. Until you do something another way, your life will continue as before.
You have to take action, step out of your comfort zone, for your life experience to change. When you begin to do this, then others will react to what you do differently, because when you change, others change in their response to you.
Just like a spreadsheet, when one thing changes then everything else changes too. Without action on your part, your life will continue in the way it always has.
When you apply the simple strategies to your life you can live the life you truly want. So don’t delay any more. Start today to create the life you truly want: you can have a more balanced life.
Part of looking after yourself is about finding the right person to support you through some difficult decisions.
A huge leap out of your comfort zone is making the first contact with a coach: it may seem as though you are admitting not being able to find the way forward yourself.
Not at all: contacting a coach is about recognising what you need at this time and also deciding it’s time to do the things you’ve been dithering about for so long.
Perhaps you’ve procrastinated because you want to be sure it will be the right decision. Can we ever know what is the right decision? Unless you have a go at the things you really want to do, how can you ever know whether its will be right or wrong for you? Go for it!! It’s important to do something and then if need be change direction as needed.
The value of working with a coach is unquantifiable: after just a few sessions you will make huge leaps in what you think, do and believe about yourself and start to do things you’ve been stuck about for a long time.
This is what a recent client (consultant physician) emailed me after a few weeks coaching from me:
While at first, phone calls and e-mails seemed a funny way to discuss such personal matters, it really works. When I feel in danger of becoming a ‘I hate my job’ bore with my friends – I can tell you instead! Somehow you helped me to lift my head up above the endless cycle of asking myself the same questions over and over again, and help me to take control over my decisions. I think that you have helped me to gain a lot of confidence in myself over the last few months, and have helped me to do my work a lot better. While ultimately the decision is mine, it is lovely to have your support and encouragement. It is important to me that you are independent ,with no ‘angle’ on my decision, unlike my husband and parents (who would prefer me to continue in my work but are coming round to the idea that they would like me to be happy.) The hardest thing that you have started is to help me face up to uncertainty about the future. Well, if my boss seems happy to do that – he seems confident that he would be able to fill my job, then I should be. I find his confidence in his ability to replace me a little unnerving!
Sometimes you realise that something has to change in your life:Coaching can be the catalyst you need!