The Physician Philosopher Podcast

TPP 45: Get Out of Your Head (To Get Out Of Your Way)

Most of us have this thought wired into our brains that we have to work hard all the time or we are not going to be successful or enough. But what if the answer to being both successful and enough wasn’t found in how much time we spend on work. What if this actually leads to more burnout in medicine? What if the answer was actually found in taking time away from work?

Larry Keller

Today’s Thought

So today’s thought is this: Staying busy is not the answer to solving your problems. Instead, create white space on the calendar so you can get out of your head and get out of your own way.

Wired Thoughts

Most of us have this thought wired into our brains that we have to work hard.  All the time.

I know doctors and physician entrepreneurs who are trained to think this way. 

Doctors who don’t take vacations.  

Doctors who work any and every extra shift they can to try and get to financial independence faster – or worse, just to afford their lifestyle. (Hint: this isn’t the answer to stopping burnout in medicine).  

Physician entrepreneurs who pour themselves into their online business every waking moment that they have.

In fact, it is super common for doctors who transition into the online business world to trade burnout in medicine for entrepreneurial burnout. 

What do you think the commonality is that creates burnout no matter the job?

It’s their thoughts. 

Recipe for Burnout 

It turns out that part of the reason burnout in medicine and burnout in entrepreneurship happens is that some things are in our control that we don’t typically think are – including how often and how hard we work.

This is one reason we talk so much about doing the tough thought work before you change your situation.

Now, I’m the pot calling the kettle black here, I get it.  

It took me three and a half years in my own online business to realize that working harder doesn’t mean I am working smarter. It also doesn’t mean I am preventing burnout in medicine and my online business. 

In times past, I’ve been known to spend every waking hour I have when my kids are sleeping or busy (and I am not working clinically) on my online business, The Physician Philosopher.  

That is a great recipe for burnout.  And I don’t recommend it.  

The interesting thing is that working like that not only causes burnout, but it actually doesn’t even lead to the best results.  We all need space to be inspired in our lives.  

The longer we stare at a problem, the harder and more complicated it often seems to become.  It is like having writer’s block.  Staring at the keyboard isn’t going to make the words come out any faster.  

Most of the time the answer is to take a break.  Relax.  Recover.  Recharge.

Creating Space 

I recently had a weekend where I almost missed out on a great opportunity for The Physician Philosopher (TPP) to help more doctors because I was going to spend the weekend at a computer “working on the business.”

All the while, the answer to helping more doctors through TPP ended up being to work less on the business that weekend and spend more time with my family.  

Not making any sense? Let me explain…

Recently, we launched ACE (or the Alpha Coaching Experience for those of you “not in the know”)… our premier coaching program that helps empower physicians to find the balance and financial freedom they need to live life and practice medicine on their terms.

And if you aren’t an online business owner you may not know that launches can be hell. In times past, “Hell Week” would have been a better name for launch week.  

Things always break or go wrong. Internet connections are lost. Advertising accounts get closed down at inopportune times.  Websites crash.  It is always something during a launch. 

Prior to this most recent launch for our Summer program, Kristin – our business manager at TPP – and I looked at all of the things that had to be done. 

  • There were podcasts and videos to record
  • Emails to read and respond to
  • Our current clients to take care of
  • Online course content to create for The 3 Pillars to Physician Freedom that we teach inside of ACE

And all of those things were what kept me in my office in my basement while my kids left to go to the pool on a Saturday with their mom.

About 30 minutes into working on all of these “must dos,” I realized how ridiculous this all was.

I created this business so that my own family could have more freedom. So that I could spend time with my wife and kids.  And to create a life we live with more freedom and flexibility to do all of that.

Yet, here I was, sitting in my basement typing away on a keyboard scripting the next podcast episode on the list for launch week. 

That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to do this anymore.

I was going to go to the pool. And be a dad.  Throw my kids around the pool.  And get water splashed in my face.  

So, that’s what I did.  I went to the pool.  Hung out with my wife and our 3 kids. 

While I was hanging out with my kids, we saw a friend of ours who we had recently met because our 7 year old is in school with (and may or may not have a crush) on their daughter. 

Well, this girl’s dad and I started talking.  And guess what?  It turns out that he works for Doximity.  And you know what?  He is actually involved in marketing and advertising for Doximity.  

Pretty cool given that – as anyone who is an online physician entrepreneur knows – one of the problems with advertising on other social media platforms is that it is very hard to target only physicians, which is our intended target audience. 

Well, with Doximity, that’s not a problem. In fact, it is one of the things that makes it a very appealing advertising space.  

Opportunity Strikes 

This was awesome for TPP. 

And it is another example of the bread crumbs that God constantly leaves in my life to remind me that it is okay to take a break from working on the business.

In fact, it is on those breaks that inspiration and opportunities always come.

When I chose to create white space on the calendar to hang out with my family, wouldn’t you know that is when inspiration would strike and opportunity struck.

The problem is that most of the doctors I know work hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes to the point of being work-aholics and eventually leading to burnout in medicine.

And when we look for the solution and become fascinated by personal finance or in creating a business outside of our clinical jobs… we bring that work-a-holism with us.

Which is a really interesting problem to have, because I don’t know any physicians who crush themselves in their journey to get to financial independence, as fast as possible, who do not do that because they want freedom. 

Freedom of their time. Freedom of their money. Freedom of their schedule to live life on their terms.

Yet, we work ourselves out of that freedom because of our work ethic.

Leave The Calendar Open

So today I just want to encourage you to take some time for yourself and for your family and/or friends. 

It may not make sense at face value that taking time away from your projects and ambitions may actually allow for bigger impact and purpose, but that is exactly what happens.

When I decided to go to the pool instead of working in the business, I found a new way to reach more doctors in need. 

Recently I decided to play pickleball in my free time that I previously would have spent “working” on the business and I met another entrepreneur in the online space who is very successful. From that conversation came a brand new idea for TPP. 

I’ve started reading a lot more again recently (I am a huge Harlan Coban fan) or listening to books while I drive in my truck… which is what sparked the episode before this on being a hero and not a victim in your story as I am listening to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  right now, too.  

So the point is, if the to-do list is piling up and burnout in medicine or your online business is creeping in, but you aren’t exactly sure what the next step is, maybe it is time for you to step back.  Take a break.  Enjoy some time to yourself and with your family.

Get outside. Go for a walk. Get some exercise. Read a book or listen to some music with the windows down in your car.

However you get out of your head so that you can get out of your own way…. do it.  Take the leap of faith.  And you just might realize that inspiration for the problems you currently have show up when you least expect it.

They might just show up through white space on your calendar.

Learning how to do this isn’t always easy. That’s what we can help with inside ACE. Join us when the next enrollment opens by signing up for the interest list for the Alpha Coaching Experience (ACE) at https://thephysicianphilosopher.com/waitlist

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