How to Have a Better Day TODAY

What kind of day are you going to have today?

Often my clients tell me that they know before they even get to work that they are going to have a hard day or a bad day or a tough day. And then they tell me why. They give me all the reasons why their day will be terrible.

And you know what?

They are right.

Their day IS going to be terrible as long as that is what they are telling themselves.

But it doesn’t have to be.

It starts so innocently. You have the thought “this day is going to be awful” or “today is Monday and I hate Mondays” or something else along those lines. It’s likely a thought you think a lot. Maybe you think it every morning as you head to the clinic or hospital for work. And your brain is happy to (and very good at) finding evidence to support this belief. A LOT of evidence.

Does this make sense to you? Let’s slow it down so I can show you, step by step, how it all goes wrong.

Step 1: You think something like “today is going to be a bad day.”

Step 2: Your brain immediately starts listing all the reasons this seems true. It might use past evidence of previous bad days or just start spinning doom and gloom scenarios about whatever is on your agenda for the day: your clinic or surgeries or particular patients or meetings or difficult colleague interactions.

Step 3: And then you feel crappy. Likely at this point you will notice a familiar feeling of stress, dread, unhappiness, irritation, and/or resentment. Maybe then you’ll start wishing you didn’t have to go to work.

Step 4: All day long your brain will keep finding evidence for how today is another bad day.

Step 5: Your day will be bad.

I want you to ask yourself, what is the upside to thinking this? Really? Is there one? How does this thought make you feel? Probably not good. Probably not excited or happy to go to work. And just notice this. Notice the effects of a simple sneaky thought as it ripples through your day.

What result is this thought creating in your life? Is it helping you deal more or less effectively with the challenges that do arise in your day? Is it making you more or less productive during your day? Is it making it more or less likely that you will enjoy your day at work? Is it creating the results you want in your career or is it contributing to burnout and unhappiness as a doctor?

Here is a technique I suggest to start having a better day – every day.

The key here is to interrupt this pathway. So next time you catch yourself thinking you are going to have a bad day, stop yourself right there, and re-direct your brain. Ask your brain a better question:
How can I have a good day today?
How can I enjoy my day today?
How can I get everything done today and feel relaxed and in control the whole time?
How can I make today fun for me and my patients and staff?
And so on …

You get the idea. Want a better day? Ask your brain to figure out how and watch as it finds all sorts of answers and evidence for you. And notice how your day transforms.

New steps:

Step 1: Notice you are thinking “Today is going to be bad.”

Step 2: Interrupt that thought and ask yourself a better question like “how can I make today fun or interesting or simply have a good day at work?”

Step 3: Keep asking your brain this question all day long and notice how your day is actually fun or interesting or good.

Step 4: Repeat tomorrow.

XOXO
Sara

PS – I’d love to hear how this works for you!

PPS – If you are stuck or having a hard time shifting your thoughts about your day, please contact me for a free 30 minute mini-session and let’s solve this problem together!

 

How to Get More Vacation Time as a Doctor

On Facebook I recently saw a doctor post a picture from her 5 week vacation in Europe. It was a pretty picture. It looked sort of like this one.  But the interesting thing was the comment from another doctor: “5 weeks?? How did you get 5 weeks off?”

At first glance that sounds like a very innocent comment, right? How DO you get 5 weeks off?  Especially as a doctor.

But then I kept reading the comments. There were so many comments from other physicians about their lack of vacation time, being too busy to take vacation, feeling guilty while on vacation, feeling envious of this 5 weeks of vacation time. And on it went.

And so I want to answer this question. Because it took me years to figure this out.  But know I finally know the answer!

Question:
So how do YOU, as a doctor, get 5 weeks of vacation time?

Answer:
You ask for 5 weeks off.
You decide to take 5 weeks off.
You don’t “get” it – someone doesn’t give it to you. You go after it. You make it happen. You create the life (and vacation time) you want.  This is one of those answers that is simple but not easy.

This requires a mind shift. A BIG mind shift.  And this is hard for doctors, really hard.

I get it. It was really hard for me. I’m better at it now. But I still slip into it sometimes if I am not careful.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

What am I hoping someone will give me?

What would make me happy if I suddenly got it?

5 weeks of vacation?
A week off?
No call?
Working 4 days a week?
An evening spent with my family that is not interrupted by work?

What are your answers?

Good to know.

Now stop waiting to be given this and start figuring out how you get this! You give it to you. No one else is going to give it to you, especially if you never ask.

And I am guessing you might be thinking “yeah, but ….”  and automatically listing all the reasons why this is not possible for you.  Those “yeah buts” as I call them, are important.  Write those down.  Those beliefs are the reason you don’t have 5 weeks of vacation.  Or whatever it is that you are wanting and don’t currently have.

Are those “yeah buts” true?  Really?  Are you absolutely sure?  Rather than using your brain to find reasons you can’t have 5 weeks of vacation, ask your brain to find out how you can have those 5 weeks of vacation.  Solve those “yeah buts” and get that vacation time!  Or weekend off.  Or whatever it is that you want and think you cannot have.

And if you need help figuring out how to give yourself what you want, or even figuring out what is it you do want – please email me at sarawdill@gmail.com. This is what I do. I help doctors work less and live more. I have figured this out for me – and I would love to help you figure it out too!

Career Re-Design for Doctors

I am part of a large Facebook group for physicians. I love it. I love doctors – they are my people. Even though I am no longer practicing (at least for now), I still identify very much as a doctor. One thing that I notice over and over again is how many docs complain about the number of patients they see, their clinics, their days, their general busyness, their overwhelm. They think it is just something they have to put up with.

And I get it. That is part of why I left medicine. At the time, I didn’t realize that I had other choices besides leaving my practice. I didn’t realize that we usually only complain about things we feel powerless to change. I didn’t realize that by complaining I was essentially taking all my energy and frustration and defusing it rather than using it to take action and create positive change.

I want to tell you, in case you don’t know, that you can change the way you practice. You don’t have to just cope with it and get through your workday as best you can. As doctors, we are very good at coping.  Too good.  But who wants a career that requires coping and a “get through it” mentality every day?  I didn’t.  And my clients don’t. I want you to love your work, love your patients (if you choose to see them), and love your day to day routine. It is possible.  And you deserve it.  Your patients deserve it.  Your family deserves it.

You can change the way you see patients. You can change your clinics, your schedule, the number or types of patients you see. You can change anything you want. You can stop seeing patients and pursue non-clinical practice. You can leave medicine and do something totally different. Whatever you want, you can create it.  You get what you tolerate. If you want something different, you need to stop accepting the status-quo.

Here are the first three steps to creating change in your work-life.

  1. Step back and notice what it is you want. Too often we are so busy with our day-to-day life that we don’t stop to step back and pay attention to the bigger picture. Ask is this what I want? Am I living my values? Am I creating a life that feels meaningful to me?
  2. Next, notice what it is you are currently tolerating. Check in with yourself. Notice what you like and don’t like. What part of your week is the best and what is the worst? Be specific.
  3. Lastly, and most importantly, notice why you are tolerating the things you don’t enjoy in your current work. You will come up with reasons that seem to simply be facts. It will feel like you are just stating the truth. You may come up with beliefs like “I have to” or “I can’t ask to see fewer patients” or “sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do” or “I can’t let others down”. These are actually not facts. They are thoughts that you deeply believe to be true. You need to start dis-believing these thoughts that are keeping you stuck. Start questioning all of these. Notice what would be different if you didn’t believe them.  How would your life be different if you believed the opposite of them?

Write all these things down. With a pen and paper. Make lists. Notice. Stop complaining and start taking action to change the things you don’t like.

If you need support or help or want to make changes and don’t know how to get started, please contact me. This is what I do. You are who I help.

XOXO – Sara

Don’t Let Gratitude Keep You Stuck

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US. This is a day in which we all (or at least many of us) reflect on all our blessings and what we are grateful for. I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. It combines food (anyone who knows me knows how much I love food) with family and friends.

But I have been thinking a lot about gratitude recently. I think slowing down and appreciating one’s life and feeling grateful for everything in it is wonderful. It feels great. It’s paying attention to the beauty of life right now.

But I also see gratitude being mis-used as an excuse for not going after what you want. I did this a lot! I used gratitude as a way to stay stuck in my life. I think I basically confused the idea of being grateful – really really grateful – for everything in my life, with the idea that I shouldn’t want more from life. For me it looked like being grateful that I had a good career as a doctor. I got to help people. I had a good income. I worked four days a week. And I felt guilty that I wanted more from life. I felt guilty that I wasn’t happier and more content.

I told myself I shouldn’t want more. I told myself I should just be grateful for what I had. The “should” and the “just” are the keys to where those thoughts go wrong. If you tell yourself a lot of things with the words “should” or “shouldn’t”, “just” and “can’t” – take notice!

Yes, those things for which I was grateful were all true about my career and life. And I was using gratitude to deny what was also true for me. I didn’t like practicing medicine. I was unhappy at work. My personal life was almost non-existent. And I felt stuck in my life. On top of that, I felt guilty for wanting more. Somehow, I had confused gratitude and my genuine desire for change.

Being grateful for what you have doesn’t mean you can’t want more for your life.

Being Grateful Quote

Once I learned this, it all changed. Now I realize that being more present to life, and feeling gratitude for all that I have in my life and all that I get to do, is what allows me to want more. I want more – for me and for others. I want more – for me and for the world.

Be grateful but don’t be afraid to want more. Life wants more for you too!

XOXO

You Are Allowed to Be Happy

You Are Allowed To Be Happy.

Do you know that?

You are allowed to be happy.

Even if others are not happy.

Even if others might be experiencing war, famine, cruelty, injustice, hunger, death, illness.

You are still allowed to be happy.

Even if you are experiencing war, famine, cruelty, injustice, hunger, death, illness.

You are allowed to be happy.

Your being happy doesn’t hurt someone else.

Your being happy doesn’t take away someone else’s happiness.

Your being happy isn’t selfish.

Your being happy isn’t unkind.

Your being happy is an act of kindness – to yourself and to others.

Your being happy sets other people free to live their own lives.

You are allowed to be happy.

XOXO

Sara

Flower Heart

Live Like You’re Dying

I know…sounds like a country western song. And it is. Thank you, Tim McGraw.
For others of you, you may be thinking that this is too morbid. Or unrealistic. That you can’t just live every day as if it might be your last.

Actually, you can. And in fact, this might be the most realistic way to live your life. Because we are all, in fact, getting closer to death every day. And every day could very well be our last. This isn’t morbid. This is true.

I took my daily walk this morning through a beautiful old cemetery just outside Blue Hill, Maine, overlooking Blue Hill Bay. With gravestones dating from the early 1800s, I once again was confronted with the fact of our limited time here in the world. People young and old lay buried around me. And it didn’t make me sad, it made me impatient with myself for not doing more, showing up more, contributing more, and for not fully living my life NOW!

Are you fully living your life? Are you making every day count? Are you happy & excited every day you wake up? Or do you feel like your life hasn’t started yet? Are you spending too much time doing things you don’t want to do? Maybe it’s time to stop. Right. Now. Life is short. None of us knows how long we have.

Be healthy.

Be happy.

Be you.

Today I am re-committing to living every day to the fullest. To living my life full out. Every day someone dies. One day it will be me. I want to make sure I’ve lived as fully as I can before that day. Are you with me?
XOXO

The Door

We all have doors in front of us every day. Unopened. Leading us somewhere. Are you going through the door in front of you today? Is it a door you want to go through? Or one you believe you “have to” go through? What would your life be like if you just went through the door you wanted to? Today. Right now. The one that is waiting for you.

XO

Sara

What Have You Stopped Wanting?

As a coach, I ask people what they want. Some people know. A lot of people don’t know. Some people have stopped wanting altogether.

If you don’t know what you want—how will you ever get it?

What have you stopped wanting? Or what have you given up on ever getting?

Coming Home to Yourself

Lately I have been so excited about the beauty and truth in poetry. Little snippets here and there keep landing on me like a cool drop of rain hitting my skin on a hot summer afternoon: unexpected, a quick shiver, a sigh of yes, a feeling of delight.

Today the line that struck me is from a poem (or blessing) by John O’Donohue, called On Waking, from his book To Bless the Space Between Us. The whole blessing is as follows:

I give thanks for arriving
Safely in a new dawn,
For the gift of eyes
To see the world,
The gift of mind
To feel at home
In my life.
The waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger,
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring.

The line I am repeating to myself is:

To feel at home
In my life

This is what I want. This is the feeling I am after. To feel at home in our life is what I think we all want. As I go along in life, in coaching, in opening to myself, more and more I do feel at home in my life.

What is home? Good question. For me, home is belonging, home is feeling safe, home is love, home is everything good and true in life.

What is home for you? Do you feel at home in your life? How could you feel more at home in your life?

xo
Sara

My Four-Leaf Clover

I find a lot of four-leaf clovers. Do you? Here’s a picture of one I found the other day when I was out running. I paused to change my music, saw a bunch of clover and there it was!

Four Leaf Clover

 

Do you want to know the secret to finding four-leaf clovers? You have to believe they exist AND you have to look for them!

I didn’t always believe that four-leaf clovers actually existed. I thought they were some sort of magical symbol or element in a fable, like a unicorn. But one day I was borrowing a book from a friend. She handed it to me, and then said “oh, let me take out my four-leaf clovers.” She was drying them in the book. That was the day I realized that they actually existed. I asked her where she found them and she said she found them everywhere. The key was that you just have to spend time looking for them.

The other day when I found one I had a lightbulb moment about belief and effort. I really reflected again of the lessons I learned in becoming a collector of four-leaf clovers: belief and the effort of seeking.

I am guessing there are things in your life that you don’t believe in? Or that you don’t believe exist? Or can’t exist for you? That there are things you know could exist but you don’t spend any time looking for them, or finding them?

What is the four-leaf clover in your life in which you need to believe and/or go find?