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Physician Thriving: The Power of Why

By Hilary McClafferty, MD, FAAP

You may be considering taking steps to address your own well-being in light of the ongoing national focus on physician health and wellness. It can be daunting to contemplate change and overwhelming to add another potential project to your already full plate. Where to begin? Would it be your nutrition, sleep habits, a new stress-management technique, a self-help book to find your motivation, a new supplement to support cardiovascular health? The options are endless and sorting through these choices might lead to a closed loop of analysis and inaction.

One way to avoid this mental cul de sac is to take several steps back and first contemplate your reason for wanting to change. What is your underlying ‘why’? It is worth taking time to find clarity on this issue and to refine your answer to a few words, or a short sentence, that you can access and reference quickly to move you forward in the direction of change.

Everyone’s ‘why’ will be unique, yet if properly refined, all are equally powerful. I had identified my ‘why’ a year ago, but after several frustrating false starts realized I needed to revisit my plan. I spent time over the summer thinking about the obstacles that had come up: an injury, a family illness, a shift in work responsibilities, business travel, other projects with tight deadlines, the list went on. It became clear to me that my focus on my well-being had slipped, and I was no longer on my own priority list. This is not the first time I have experienced this and likely won’t be the last, but now, at least, I am able to recognize what is happening and make corrections rather than rush on with life wondering why my health and fitness goals aren’t manifesting.

If you are having trouble identifying your reason(s) for wanting to improve your health and well-being or feel selfish in putting your needs above others, consider how your approach to health impacts the various elements of your life. For example, your physical and mental well-being generates positive emotions and energy that directly impact your social interactions, your family relationships, your career progress, your financial well-being, your community presence and influence, and ultimately the quality of your retirement or post-medicine career, among other things.

If you are contemplating change and have not yet identified your clear ‘why’, block some time in the next week to consider how your health and well-being factor into the various, complex elements of your life. Can you identify an area calling for change? If so, contemplate your reasons and motivations, your underlying ‘why’. Take the time to bring it into clear focus. Write it down, refer to it often. Now you have the catalyst you need to move forward effectively. And you will.

 

Hilary McClafferty, MD, FAAP, is board certified in pediatrics, pediatric emergency medicine, and integrative medicine. She writes and speaks nationally on physician well-being, resiliency, and whole physician wellness. She is a certified physician coach and author of two books: Mind-Body Medicine in Clinical Practice and Integrative Pediatrics: Art, Science, and Clinical Application, and editor of two Special Editions on the use of integrative medicine in practice. She is Founding Director of the Pediatric Integrative Medicine in Residency program, University of Arizona, and Medical Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Tucson Medical Center, Tucson, AZ. She is also a member of the International Coach Federation. Email: mcclaffertyh@gmail.com  Website: www.drmcclafferty.com  Twitter: @drmcclafferty