How many of us have fallen victim to the idea that, once I graduate veterinary college then I will be happy, or, once I own my own practice then I will be successful? How many of us have actually achieved those goals and suddenly realized that the goal post keeps moving? Or that the people we were trying to please may never see us as successful and that working towards other people’s goals isn’t making us any happier?
Simply achieving a goal or some pre–determined metric won’t make us magically happy or even successful in the eyes of our peers and colleagues.
It’s no surprise that many of the guests I interview on my podcast state (in some way, shape or form) that the one thing they know now that they wish they knew ten years ago would be to embrace who they are and live their most authentic life. Great! But how on earth do we accomplish this, practically speaking, while juggling careers and family responsibilities, trying to make everyone happy and failing to make anyone happy—most notably ourselves?
According to the executive summary of the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study published in JAVMA1, “spending time with family and socializing with friends” were factors that were “strongly associated with high levels of wellbeing.”
Ok. I know what you’re thinking, how do I spend more time with friends and family, spend more time on hobbies, and still meet all of my current obligations in the same 24 hours?
So maybe more time isn’t what we need, maybe deciding how to spend our time is what’s most important. How do we improve the quality of time spent with family and friends, and how are we able to be fully present in these activities while simultaneously wondering how our patients are doing?
I’ve spent the past three years learning about high–performance in order to better understand and answer the age-old question, “How do some people seemingly accomplish more in one day than others accomplish in one week or even a month?” Not surprisingly, the answer lies within Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of our desired outcomes will come from 20 percent of our actions.
The biggest time–savers and wins in this area weren’t professional, but personal for me. I hired someone to help keep my house clean and automated my grocery shopping through several online, automatic delivery services. When I looked at the cost to outsource these tasks, the joy they didn’t bring me, the time freed up versus the additional hours I’d have to work to afford to hire someone, it was a no–brainer. I saved myself more than five hours a week to work an additional 1-2 hours to pay for the additional cost of these services! In fact, simply cutting the cord and cancelling the cable services I never used was another solution with no additional time worked. In five hours I can record and edit a podcast or spend nearly a whole day with my horse!
What’s the value of an additional five or ten hours in your week? Would it get you closer to living the life of your dreams?
Taking a hard look at how I was spending my time and money allowed me to reduce my debt, cash-flow major expenses, and free up more time to ride my horse and pursue professional opportunities that seemed out of reach only a few months before I decided to take intentional action towards accomplishing my goals and living the life of my dreams. +
1. Volk, J. O., Schimmack, U., Strand, E. B., Lord, L. K., & Siren, C. W. (2018). Executive summary of the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,252(10), 1231-1238. doi:10.2460/javma.252.10.1231
3 questions to help on your quest to reclaim your time, authentically live the life of your dreams, and finally indulge in that hobby you love but have been putting off until you accomplish that next level of success:
1. Is this something that I can delegate? It’s true, not everyone has the same resources available to delegate activities. But when you identify tasks that could be delegated, then we can start to look for solutions. Our superpower as veterinarians is being able to find creative solutions too difficult, if not seemingly impossible, problems. Be patient; not everything can be immediately delegated and often times we need to find the right staff or family member to take on additional responsibilities, and then we need to train them and provide the resources and support needed to succeed. It’s a longer–term solution, but the extra effort is often worth the additional time we can reclaim.
2. Is this something that still needs to be done? How often have we looked at our to-do list? I mean, really looked at what’s eating up all of our time. Is it even something that still needs to be done? If not, stop doing it.
3. Is this activity the best use of my time? The best advice I ever received, and at the same time, the most difficult to implement, was to stop doing low–dollar tasks and to start focusing on the high–dollar, high–value tasks. This applies across all professions and to every area of our lives. If ever you find yourself saying, “I just don’t have time, I just can’t,” then this is for you.