2020, the year that felt like a decade, is finally drawing to a close. As I sat down to reflect on everything that’s happened, I couldn’t help but feel a bit overcome with all the emotion.
I work very hard to stay positive and optimistic, and despite all the challenges it’s brought, this year has been no different. My wife likes to say, it’s part of my nature or my God-given gift, but I also believe it’s been a conscious decision.
The fact is, I’ve been extremely blessed and have enjoyed privileges that not everyone has. I completely recognize that. I’ve also had to claw, hustle, and make sacrifices to get where I am as well. But no matter the circumstances, I like to focus on gratitude for my life and the people I have in it.
This time of reflection has made me realize that I’ve learned a lot this year. Now, I don’t keep a diary. Instead, for me, this blog has become a “diary” of sorts. I’m lucky to have connected with many readers from all over the world, and I’ve found that many of us share similar experiences.
And so, in today’s post, I decided to write down the main points I’ve learned this year. It may be little more than an outlet for myself, but if it helps anyone else out there, then all the better!
Humility is Vital
So many times along my life’s journey, I’ve thought, “I’m set.” I would reach a certain point and just know that I had it all figured out. Maybe I got accepted into school, got a job, or gained access to a certain strategy or connection and now, nothing could touch me.
Well, after a certain number of times being knocked back down a peg or two–whether it wasn’t matching into residency the first time, or a surprise change of work schedule, –I’ve realized that it’s important to understand humility.
I’ve also had investments not go perfectly. Or anywhere near perfectly-, now that I think about it. Sometimes problems popped up unexpectedly, like a fire or environmental issue, forcing me to change strategies.
Humility is vital to dealing with all of life’s unexpected. As I’ve learned and grown over the last few years, I’ve discovered that intellectual humility is extremely important. This is the skill of knowing that I don’t know what I don’t know. It sounds simple, but it’s not.
When I realized that there are things I don’t know, it was much easier to let go of my pride and ask for help. This has led me to some strong, supportive relationships with friends and mentors, and they’ve been invaluable in helping me achieve my goals.
The thought that was ingrained in me as I discovered more things that I didn’t know was simple: I need to always keep learning. By continuing to seek knowledge, I’ve been able to grow and expand my horizons. As far as I’m concerned, learning is the best way to develop yourself- period.
How many of you have read or learned something recently and realized, “Wow, there’s so much out there I don’t know.” If you haven’t felt this in a while (since residency, perhaps?), that probably means there’s room for you to grow.
My suggestion is simple: start listening to a podcast on a subject you’ve always wanted to learn about or that piques your interest. Better yet, join an online course platform like Masterclass, where you can learn a little something from experts in all different fields. Pick a course that covers something you’d never even considered before.
Our Leverage & Growth Summit was filled with physicians doing a ton of different things outside of medicine – blogs, podcasts, coaching, real estate, expert witness, books, ketamine clinics… the list goes on. Explore what’s out there, see what others are doing, and never stop learning.
Guarding Your Mindset
One of the biggest contributors to my success both personally and financially is the coaching I’ve received throughout my life. People ask me all the time about it, and they’re often surprised to learn that I pay for coaching in a variety of different fields.
I pay for a coach to help me with business and life. I hired another coach to help me with productivity and time management. I’ve hired yet another to help me with marketing. You name it, there’s a coach for it.
But why have a coach at all?
It’s because I looked around and realized that success leaves clues. People at the top of their game have coaches, plain and simple. Fortune 500 executives have business coaches. The best athletes in the world have coaches – Steph Curry works with a shooting coach, Tiger Woods has a golf coach. You get the idea.
Coaches provide instruction, encouragement, motivation, and perhaps most valuable of all, they have the advantage of an outside perspective.
After all, it’s very difficult to make observations from a subjective standpoint, and sometimes, it’s easier to see things from the outside.
In fact, through coaching, I constantly find how I limit myself in all areas of my life. I have hundreds of reasons why I can’t do something or accomplish something, but ultimately, I now recognize that that’s just the fear of failure talking.
I’ve found when I’m able to put that aside and focus on the outcomes that I want and the simple steps it takes to achieve it, things suddenly move from “impossible” and into the realm of possibility.
Okay, so this isn’t exactly something new; I’ve incorporated diversification into my life for many years. But more than ever, this year truly cemented it for me. 2020 has taken everyone for a loop- and that’s putting it lightly. At some point, every single person was impacted in some way, whether it was a relationship, job, or finances.
I’ve watched colleagues worry about their financial security. I’ve seen friends on social media talk about their struggles. Many physician incomes, including mine, were cut by a significant amount with all the uncertainty.
But while income changed, basic living expenses didn’t – mortgage, cost of food, water, basic securities.
In years past, I’ve often thought, “What if my medical income stream was completely cut off? Would I be in good shape?” But this year turned that hypothetical question into a startling reality.
It was like a mini stress test! And honestly, I hope that’s how you saw it as well. Of course, I hope that financially speaking, everyone who’s reading this is doing okay. But if 2020 opened your eyes to the frailty of our day jobs’ income, I believe that’s a very good thing. Going into 2021, diversification has never been more important.
Flow Like Water
At some point during the year, I found myself a bit down emotionally. You can probably relate. I decided that in order to break out of my rut, I needed to change up my routine. I woke up an hour earlier, and it felt like that scene in Forrest Gump where he said, “that day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.”
Now, I’ve never particularly enjoyed running, but I needed a change. And so I ran every single day. I lost weight, my energy improved, my thoughts were clearer, and my optimism returned. As a direct result of those newfound benefits, I created the Leverage & Growth Summit. For me, running worked out very well.
Then, in September, I hurt my foot. I could no longer endure the heavy pounding of running. A bit discouraged, I sat for a month, not sure where to go next. Then, on a whim, I decided to try Yoga for the first time. I threw down a mat and struggled through a few dozen poses.
I was hooked. Now it’s an integral part of my routine and my life in general, and after joining my wife for a few sessions, it’s become a great bonding experience for us.
The point of all this? I’ve discovered first hand that if you take care of your body, your mind will follow. If you feel stuck, discouraged, or just need a bit of a change, try a new form of exercise. It’s well worth it.
Focus on what’s important
Finally, with all the uncertainty and fear that circulated this year, I’ve never been more aware of what’s truly important in life: the relationships with my loved ones.
This season has obviously tested these relationships at times, and sadly, you don’t always realize how important something is until it’s challenged in some way.
Fortunately, I don’t believe this difficult time will last forever. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a huge list of things that I put off until 2021, and I fully intend to do them.
When it’s safe, I’m committed to making those travel plans happen, gaining life experiences, and spending quality time with friends and family. If it’s in my control, it will happen as soon as physically possible.
So whatever 2021 brings, I’ll make sure to not lose sight of what’s important to me. Even when life returns to normal, those relationships are no less important. In a way, I’m grateful that this year forced me to truly realize how important they are.
Many people say they experience the most growth in times of challenge. It’s kind of like a muscle; we need to be challenged and broken down for us to become stronger. I hope 2020 was that type of year for you. I hope it was that type of year for me.
Now, my focus is on moving forward in 2021. I’ll be figuring out how to take the things I’ve learned and use them to become better for my family and my community.
If that’s your goal as well, then let’s make it happen! Join me as we put this year behind us, take what we’ve learned, and make 2021 the best it can be.