Has anyone told you “Good job!” recently? Especially for professionals in the medical field, it can be hard for us to look at what we have done well or are doing well. The first week of medical school message was that we were like small kitchen sponges and a firehose of information would be directed at us and we were supposed to try to absorb what we could. What sort of message is that? During clinical training, the focus was on what we did not know and needed to be doing better. As attendings, we are bombarded with Press Ganey satisfaction survey results often filled out by the most disgruntled patients.
Well let me tell you that you Kick Ass!! You have worked hard and sacrificed your time, often health and quality of life for the good of others. You have balanced the difficult tasks of being a caregiver to patients while trying to be the best spouse, family member and friend you can be. So thank you. I would wager to bet that if we time traveled your 6 yr old, 16 yr old and 26 yr old self to now, they would be extremely proud of the person you have become. And if you feel like that would not be the case, then what can you do in your personal, professional and spiritual life to make it so?
There will always be ways in which we can improve ourselves. But sometimes taking a moment to just pat yourself on the back and say, “Good Job!” is just what the doctor ordered.
On life’s journey, we have bumps in the road and sometimes come to dead ends. This can be financial, relational, personal or related to our careers. Having a road map of where we are heading is important in order to retrace our steps and find another way.
To start, having a road map in advance by setting clear financial goals can help us be intentional with our money and our time. If you find yourself straying off course, it is time to reassess your goals. Is something more important than your originally thought? Did the power of instant gratification overcome the reward of a slow and steady race? Or are you using spending to try to cover uncomfortable emotions?
Using words like always, never, and can’t are words of dead ends. Hope is extremely powerful and recalibrating your mindset to realize there are other paths to where you want to go is powered by bigger picture thinking. What personal financial goals do you have? Paying off debt, owning your home, saving for kids’ education, retirement, being able to help family and leaving a legacy are just a few to help make your map more clear.
If you feel like you are drowning, it is time to start from square one and prioritize your values. A zero based budget will help. Start with top line items being necessities ie. shelter, food, utilities and reasonable transportation in order to work. Charitable giving or tithing will typically follow. Then, line by line add next your prioritized spending until you have spent on paper your monthly income. This will be a practical assessment of what is most important to you from top to bottom. In addition, when times are tough, what to cut first will go from bottom to top.
I want a new car. I want to go on a big trip. I want that new pair of shoes I have been eyeing. It is easy to want and unfortunately, it is also contagious. You get a burst of dopamine that gets your reward center purring and it is harder and harder to resist spending. Have a spending plan can help keep you on track. Putting an intentional 48 hour pause before large purchases can sometimes help your from making bad financial decisions. Reminding yourself that it is not about want you can’t have, but rather the bigger picture of want you want for your life on a larger scale, can save you from making costly decisions.
In this day and age of constant comparison with social media, keeping up with the Jones’ is harder and harder to do. Focusing on what brings you joy, happiness and peace is of utmost importance. When I look at my itemized credit card or bank statement, I should see spending that reflects my values. If I don’t, it is time to reevaluate what is important to me and what I am will to trade my money (ultimately time) for.