The Physician Philosopher Podcast
TPP #30: Part 1 – 3 Pillars of Freedom for Physicians Who Feel Trapped
Many doctors feel trapped in medicine. And I totally get it. With 50% of doctors being burned out, it is no surprise so many doctors feel trapped. To find fulfillment, some turn to spending money. Others turn to changing jobs. While still others consider part-time work or leaving medicine altogether.
…yet, do they all find happiness? No. So, today, we are discussing the 3 Pillar Framework to becoming a Fulfilled Physician.
That’s what this episode (and the next) are all about.
Today You’ll Learn
- The importance of mastering your thoughts before changing your circumstances.
- How work-life balance may be the key to being a fulfilled physician.
- How to stop choosing between being a good partner, parent, and physician.
- And more!
- The Arrival Fallacy
- Building Your Hell Yes Policy
- TPP 26: How Doctors Benefit From Professional Coaching
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Too many doctors feel like they are not the captain of their own ship, that they busted their tail to get to where they are, but that outside forces control their life. In this episode, we're going to discuss the three pillars to finding freedom so you can live life on your terms.
This is the physician philosopher podcast,
Dr. Jimmy Turner and anesthesiologist, online entrepreneur and creator of the alpha coaching experience. The physician philosopher podcast teaches you how to create the life. You deserve
One thought at a time, start before you're ready. Start by starting start now. Hey everyone. Welcome back
Episode. Number 30 of the physician philosopher podcast, where we take an uncurated and unapologetic look into physician life, money and mindset. Today's thought is this, in order to find work-life balance as a partner, a parent, and a physician, you have to master your mindset, your money and your life. I'm not gonna lie to you. I almost called this show from burnout to bad-ass position freedom, and I actually might still do that. That might end up being the title of the show. When I was at the bottom of my burnout, I felt like I had no control over my life. I felt like I had to choose between being a good dad, a good husband, and a good doctor. And that was an absolutely miserable place to be. I didn't want to have to choose any of that. I wanted to be good at all three things, and that lack of control, that lack of autonomy over my hours in my schedule led me to realize that what I wanted more than anything was the ability to control my schedule, to live life on my terms to make sure that I didn't miss T-ball practices, gymnastic practices or singing lessons, that if I wanted to be there as a dad, as a husband, I could be my journey to figuring all of that out was a solution to my burnout.
My transition from being like a burned out doctor with no options, to feeling like a bad-ass position entrepreneur, where I could live life on my terms had a lot of ups and downs. This is a journey that is not for the faint of heart, but it is totally 100% completely worth it. And the reason that I didn't know what I know now, which is that there is an order to this process, a method to the madness. I got it all wrong. And so I want to save you from that journey. I want to save you from not knowing the order in which this should happen, this process, this journey. So in this episode, and the nexus is going to be a two part series. I want to discuss this method with you. What I call the three pillars to finding work-life balance and living life on your terms, right?
These are the three pillars that we teach inside the alpha coaching experience. And whether we say it distinctly or not, it really is the fundamental roots and reason for success for physicians that get coaching. And these are the three pillars, your mindset, your money and your life. And this is done in that order. Now this is not the order in which I did it. So don't be confused by that. That's why my journey had tons of ups and downs. And life is a bit about enjoying the journey, right? So as a coach, I always have to look back with my stoicism and say, Hey, what did that obstacle teach me? What did going through this process in the wrong order, teach me and how can I reach back and help other people go through this journey in the order. That makes sense in the way that will be most helpful for them.
And so that's what I do now. So for example, in my own life, I mastered my money and financial literacy long before I started mastering my mindset. And so, while I knew I'd be financially independent, and about 12 to 15 years, I was also completely miserable. And I recognized that 12 to 15 years wasn't soon enough. I have three kids. My oldest is about to turn 10. I have a seven and a four year old. And so we had kids young when my youngest kid turns 18 and theoretically can leave the house, right? I'm going to be 49. And when I started doing the math and realizing, well, that's about the age, maybe a couple of years sooner that I was going to be financially independent. I was like, there's no way I'm waiting that long. Like my kids are only young ones. I want to see them and be with them, every chance that I get.
So later I realized that the problem wasn't my money, right? The problem, wasn't my financial literacy, because I had fixed that problem. Right. That's why I stepped into the personal finance space, started blogging and podcasting about money for doctors. The problem was my mindset, my thoughts about my current situation and after working on those thoughts and then mastering my mindset, which again, I recommend doing first, but I didn't, I then worked on my work-life balance last. So the order in which I figured this stuff out was my money and then my mindset, and then my work-life balance and that journey while it taught me a lot. And it allows me now to kind of speak from this place of knowing how to help guide you to your own mastery of these things in your life. So you can create the life that you want. That journey is not the order in which I'd recommend.
So it led me straight through the throngs of burnout. As I was burning the candle at both ends as a doctor and a physician entrepreneur. I did not balance those things. Well, people ask me all the time, Jimmy, how do you get so much stuff done? How do you have all of the stuff that you do at work and research and teaching and clinical medicine. And you're a dad to three kids and you're married and you have this online business. How do you do it all? And the answer, I always tell people very transparently is that I didn't do it well, I didn't do it right now. That doesn't mean that I didn't learn a lot from it. It doesn't mean that I'm not thankful for the experience. It doesn't mean that I didn't view that obstacle as the way to progress. And as they would say, I don't want that for you though.
I want you to do this in the order. That makes sense. There's no need for you to walk a mile in my shoes. I think that's silly when prior generations or people that have taken paths before others are like, Oh, you have to go through this too. When I walked uphill, both ways and snows, like I think that militant way of thinking in medicine is actually a huge part of the culture problem that exists. So I want to save you that I want to put the snowshoes on you and save you the trouble of going through it all. I want to help make that mile in my shoes. You know, about a hundred feet in yours. So let's get into it. The pillars are going to go in this order. You need to master your mindset, then your money and then your life. Okay? So today we're going to talk about the first and the third pillar.
We'll talk about the second pillar in next week's episode. And I'll explain why we're not talking about them in order. It makes a ton of sense. So first pillar, your mindset, many doctors suffer from an arrival, fallacy, myself included. I've talked about it a lot on this podcast. I've talked about my journey. It's the idea that the next accomplishment, the next big thing is going to be the one thing that makes us happy. We're going to be the thing that makes it all click makes it all worth it. That provides that longterm sustained satisfaction that we're all looking for in life. So professionally, this might look like you becoming an attending and expecting that to be the thing that makes you happy, or you making partner or getting promoted. Personally, this might look like the time when you buy the house or the car, or you could put your kids in private school, or you finally get the Peloton that everybody's been talking about.
But when we look at things like this, we're asking the wrong question. It's not really about figuring out what will make us happy. It's about figuring out why we aren't happy in the first place, right? This is why people get this journey screwed up. It's why I screwed this journey up and did it the order in the wrong way, right? I've mastered my money so that I can fix my situation. And I did that before. I learned how to be content in any situation. So why are we not focusing on how to enjoy the journey? And what about our current situation is driving us to burnout or to feel overwhelmed or to feel trapped in medicine. Like we don't have any options or feel like we have to choose. Like I did between being a good parent, a good physician, a good spouse, a good partner.
And so in the alpha coaching experience, we help doctors sort through all this through life coaching, right? That's where the term life coaching comes from. We hash it out and figure out their thoughts. We spent a lot of time discussing facts versus stories and having them realize what's driving their feeling and what drives our feelings is our thoughts. It's our mindset. And this goes back way to the days of Marcus or really us, right. And the great Stoics. This isn't a new thing. Like people look at coaching and they're like, Oh, this is like such a weird new thing. It's not new. It all comes from stoicism, right? Like all of this comes from stoicism or at least the vast majority of it. So for example, I had a client previously who felt burned out by the meetings that they had to go to work.
He hated them. They took too long. They were completely unproductive. They felt pointless and never led to really any change. And it kind of reminds me of that poster that says, nobody can get nothing done, like a group of us who get nothing done. And so like our powers combined, we can get even less done. And that's kind of how this coaching client viewed meetings. They were a waste of time. They bothered him so much that he was actually thinking about changing his job because he hated the structure of the meetings. He hated the administrative side of it. He hated the fact that he had to go to them. He hated results of the meetings. And so when we worked on this and exactly what it was about the meetings that bothered him, he realized that it wasn't really the meeting itself. It was the anticipation and the thoughts leading up to the meeting, which is a fascinating thing, right?
But when you dive into those thoughts and when he shifted his perspective to notice that these meetings only happen like once or twice a month, and at the other 95% of his days were spent doing clinical medicine in pediatrics and loving what he does when he focused on that, you realize that his misery was coming from focusing on the one or two things about his job, that he absolutely hated. Instead of focusing on the things about his job that he loved. And with this new mindset shift, he realized he didn't hate his job at all. He actually liked it a lot, nothing changed about the meetings. The meetings still happened, and now he just chooses not to focus on them in the same way they did before. Right? This is the art of stoicism. This is the ability to not let your feelings become the master of you.
That you have control of your feelings. You have control over the way you react. You have control over the thoughts that lead to those feelings and then what you do when you have them. So it's the same process that I had happened in my life when I realized that the thought that was driving all of my burnout was that I felt like I had to choose between being a good husband, a good dad and a good doctor. And I felt like that because honestly, I would be getting home at times that I couldn't control. Sometimes it'd be early. Sometimes it'd be late. But knowing when I was going to get home as any physician, any doctor listening to this knows is a challenge. We almost never know what time that's going to be. And for those of you work strictly shift to work, maybe that's different for you.
But if you work in a busy clinic or you work in the operating room, like you're not guaranteed to be home at any specific time. And so it was my thoughts about the possibility of missing things. Even more than it was like me actually missing them. It was just my thought about missing things that really was driving a lot of my burnout at work. Like I really hated that I didn't have any control of these things. I didn't have any say I didn't have any ability to really dictate things. And so what I started doing was I actually started trying to change the situation. I would try to put myself into certain shifts and I would try to take certain days off work to avoid some of these problems. And that's fine to manipulate your circumstance and your situation. We'll talk about that later. But at the same time, like it didn't solve anything because I didn't address the mindset.
This is why it's important to work on your thoughts and your mindset before you change your work situation. Because I cannot tell you how many doctors I've coached, who are miserable in their job. And they think the solution is to change jobs because they hate their current job. They hate the current culture. They hate the administration. They hate their bosses, whatever they changed jobs. And then they are miserable at the second job too. And the reason that this happens, the reason that doctors become a statistic, right? We all know that there's a study out there. It actually comes from an Atlanta healthcare recruiting firm that showed that 50% of doctors changed jobs in the first five years out of training. I bet that number is actually higher. I bet it's 70%. And we also know that turnover is huge in part because of physician burnout and moral injury.
And so when you piece all these things together, we recognize that a lot of doctors think that the solution to their problems is changing jobs in my world. When I speak to client after client in the alpha coaching experience, who changed jobs before they found coaching and they learned how to change their mindset. When you ask them, you're like, Hey, how'd that go for you? They're like, I was just as miserable. It was better for three or six months. But after that, just as miserable, but just for different reasons. So if you don't do the tough thought work, you don't do the mindset work before you do this. It is inevitably going to lead to similar results at the next job. So this is why your mindset is the first thing that you have to master. This is why you have to learn how to shape your thoughts, that then shape your feelings and how you show up in this world.
While you have to learn how to master your feelings, instead of letting your feelings master you and for anybody out there. That's I just get so angry. It just seems like there's no thought driving. Now, I just get angry or I get sad or I get bitter. It just happens. It's automatic. It's not automatic. There's a thought you just don't know what it is. Cause you've never talked it out with somebody to figure it out. And the second step of that, knowing how to deal with your feelings when they happen. Okay? Now we know the thought, this is how you feel. Did you know that there are options with how you deal with your feelings? Did you know that you don't have to give in to them? Did you know that you're allowed to feel something and then not act out of that? Feeling that just because you're angry, doesn't mean you have to say harsh words.
That just because you're bitter doesn't mean you have to go to work, burned out. Those are all options. And they come from mastering your mindset. This is why shifting your mindset is the first pillar. But after you've done the thought work, you're now in a better place where you can then change your circumstance, then change your situation, then change jobs, then go, part-time then find that work-life balance. But I cannot stress to you. The importance of working on your mindset before you change your life. That's why these go in order pillar. One is your mindset. Pillar two is your money. And pillar three is your life or that work-life balance. You're looking for. They have to go in this order. They have to, we're going to talk about the third pillar next. Now that we've talked about mastering your mindset, the importance of that, the third pillar, the reason that I'm skipping pillar, number two, right?
Is that pillar number two, it's going to take probably a little bit longer to explain, but this is the order that most people go in. They change their life. First, the third pillar, then they can't figure out why it didn't work. It didn't make them happy. They have the arrival fallacy. They run into all sorts of problems. And then they eventually figure out that maybe their mindset needs to be worked on. Maybe there's something else to life that they're missing. They don't really understand why their brain is doing what they're doing. And they try to solve all these problems by spending their money to find happiness. It doesn't work. That's what most people do. It does not work. So the reason that we're going to talk about our third pillar next is because, although you need to master your mindset, then your money and your life, the gas to the engine of changing your life turns out to be money.
And we always say, it's not all about money. My friend, it is all about money. Money is the gas that you put in the car to get to where you want to go without money. You can't do that. Okay? So we're going to talk about the second pillar in a second, but the third pillar, I'm gonna switch to this because of what I just said. So the first pillar is about mastering your mindset, shifting your mindset is great. That's really where a lot of the great coaching stops. And that's because it's actually really helpful. It's truly helpful. If you just master your mindset, it's transformational really, truly. In fact, if you just get life coaching, for example, truly transformational, but recognizing that it is your thoughts about the situation that's causing, how you feel super important. It is all about that and not changing the access situation.
It's really helpful. But when you learn to reshape your thought from the person in front of you, what a jerk, he just cut me off. He isn't respecting my space or safety to, Hey, maybe you didn't see me. You are going to recognize that it makes you feel a different way. And the same could be said about your thoughts about work as a physician. Your thoughts about charting about pre-authorizations about seeing more patients in less time, patient satisfaction, scores, administrators metrics, and the bean counters. In fact, shifting your mindset alone has been shown in randomized control trials to decrease burnout and improve your quality of life. So I don't want to minimize the importance of pillar one, but that shift in mindset while wonderful doesn't provide all of the solutions, because we all know that there are certain situations, certain circumstances that make it easier to have better thoughts.
That's a changing. My thoughts helped a ton, but it became apparent to me that I needed to change my life to I needed to change my work-life balance because that was really the key to solving a lot of my burnout overwhelm in life. I can't tell you the number of doctors who go part-time and then find out that, Oh, wow. I actually love medicine again. I hated having to feel like I was choosing between being a good dad, a good husband and a good doctor. And so I didn't want to do that anymore. And I don't, I want to be able to go to lunch with my wife, to hit golf balls with my son in the middle of the day, which we did the other day he's smoking. And by the way, picked up a driver of the day. I was like, Oh my gosh, he has hand eye coordination is coming around.
Kick kicking, actually hit a golf ball. He's going to beat me by like the age of 12. But I wanted to able to practice medicine predominantly while my kids were in school. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you. There's some haters out here that just heard that sentence were like, ah, I don't like this dude anymore. You can get over it. I'm unapologetic about this. I wanted to be able to have a dependable schedule, practice medicine while my kids were in school or at the very least control the number of days that I'm working, such that I knew when I'd be late. When I wouldn't, when I was available, when I wasn't and that involved, changing my life, changing my work life balance. If we stopped at the first pillar, we would have just stopped at changing mindsets. And as my coach puts it, right, have heard her say it while we need to recognize that it's our thoughts that lead to how we feel.
There are definitely some situations that make it easier to have better thoughts than others. Thoughts that lead to better feelings, better actions and better results. And so for me, changing my situation into my ideal work-life balance meant going part-time, that's what I did the solution for. You may be completely different by the way. But I started out by dabbling my feet in those waters of part-time work went to 0.9, five big shift there, right from Wanda 0.95. And then I went to 0.8, five. And in July, I'm going to 0.65. When I went to 0.8, five clinically, I got Wednesdays and Thursdays off. And when I go to 0.7, five, I'm going to get Monday through Wednesday off. I'm gonna work Thursdays and Fridays still love my job. Still loved practicing medicine. Still love teaching residents in particular, but now I've got a dependable schedule right now.
I took a massive pay cut for that almost a six figure number, but that's how I got my work-life balance. I could drop my kids off in the morning when I wanted work on my business during the day, and then pick them up from school. We could go hit golf balls afterwards or go to the park. And then I could do my group calls for the alpha coaching experience at night, once my kids were in bed, I loved it. So while it may be my thoughts about these situations, that improved how I felt it was a hell of a lot easier to have these better thoughts. Now that I controlled my schedule. So in July I mentioned, I'm cutting back. You don't have that better schedule. And this has been my journey to work-life balance. Everyone's path looks different. It might be stopping certain kinds of procedure that you don't really enjoy.
It might be it's focusing on a specific or, you know, niche that you really enjoy taking care of. It could involve becoming a physician entrepreneur, which I'm a huge fan of. I think that every doctor could benefit from a side gig. Just my thought, you can take it, do what you want with it. But I think everyone can benefit from it. Has my journey been straightforward or easy? No, definitely not. It is anything but stress-free or without trouble. Of course it was. And it still is hard work and involved. A lot of coaching to get to where I am, because at the end of the day, coaching is the secret sauce that helps with all of these pillars, mastering your mindset, mastering your money, your mindset, your money, your life. The key is learning how to enjoy that process. Enjoy the journey. It's not about the end.
It's about enjoying the middle. It's about enjoying the journey to getting there. In fact, that's probably why some people say that the idea of work-life balance isn't even possible. I know that there are haters out there every time I use that word or that phrase work-life balance. Like it just makes your skin cringe. You know what I think that people that don't believe in work-life balance just haven't found it. It seems like a fountain of youth to them. It seems like an impossible goal. It just means that you're still in the process of learning how to enjoy that journey. A lot of you just heard that and you're like, yeah, Jimmy, that's great, but I can't do that. I can't afford to go part-time I can't afford to really master my life in this third pillar. And that's why the second pillar exists, because the only way that you can really take control of your life, that you can really set boundaries, that you can really practice medicine because you want to.
And not because you have to is through the second pillar that we're going to talk about next week, which is mastering your money. If you don't master your money will almost certainly be your master. And we have to talk about this because for most doctors, they view money as the end. And I want to tell you right now that money is the means to the end of finding work-life balance. If you master your mindset first, then you master your money. You will have the gas for the car that is designing your journey to finding work-life balance. Don't get mad about the gas in the car, right? Like you don't get angry that you have to put gas in a car and you have to fuel this machine. Don't get mad about money. Money is not the end all be all. It is a tool. It is everything, but it's because it's the gas that feeds the car for the journey that we want to take. So if you want to learn more about what's involved in mastering your money so that you can find the work-life balance. You're looking for from this episode tune into next week's episode on the physician philosopher podcast, all right, friends, today's thought is this in order to find work-life balance as a partner, parent, and physician, you have to master your mindset, your money and your life in that order. So until next time my friends start before you're ready. Start by starting start now. I'll see you next week.
My dad, Dr. Jimmy Turner is a physician first personal finance blogger. You know, I've coached for doc. However, he is not your position or your life coach. He also isn't a financial advisor, financial planner or accountant. Anything discussed in this podcast is for general education and entertainment purposes. Health coaching is not a substitute for therapy, medicine, or medical treatment. However, if you're a doctor looking for a life coach, you can reach out to our, my [email protected]
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