Do You Want to Work this Hard the Rest of Your Life?

Jan 31, 2022
A weary doctor in scrubs sits behind bars, head in hand, against a yellow backdrop.

 Do You Want to Work this Hard the Rest of Your Life?


Being immersed in the medical field for over four decades conditioned me to perceive the world in a different way than most. I judged people, perhaps a little too harshly. I especially judged those that worked less than my colleagues or myself. I perceived them as lazy, less driven, and less successful. 


And make no mistake, I now realize that I was conditioned to think like this. As doctors, we carry rigorous schedules that few people outside healthcare can truly comprehend and that even fewer can successfully carry out on a daily basis. 


For example, I wake up every day at 5:30 AM. I stretch, shave, shower, down a protein shake and begin my day.  



Once I arrive at the hospital, I make my rounds and see any inpatients. Following rounds, I’m typically operating from 7:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.  After almost five hours of operating, I go to the cafeteria to grab lunch 5 or 10 minutes before heading back to my practice.


But as I’m on my way to my practice, I get paged for a consultation back at the hospital. Although I still have patients waiting at my practice, I will consult with my colleagues to determine the best course of action for the patient in question and determine if I need to go back to the hospital right then or add that work onto the end of my day.


When I finally arrive at my practice, I go through my mail and 15 messages waiting for me from patients inquiring about their care, their surgery, their medication, their questions, etc.  I need to ensure that these patients hear back from me before the end of the day. 


But there’s one minor problem, I have a waiting room filled with people, now complaining, because their appointments are behind schedule. So I see all of my patients and return messages and complete prescription refills and other requests until the end of my clinic when I finish returning phone calls and completing any paperwork. 


BUT there’s one last problem! 



I’m on call and I just got paged so I need to head back to the Emergency Room and handle the situation whether it is a brisk nosebleed they can’t control or a patient who can’t swallow or a child who swallowed a quarter.  For sure, I try my best to give each patient the best care possible.  


But I am human and at a certain point, my patience, smile and sense of humor runs out.


Only after I’m done monitoring and caring for my last patient of the day, can I go home and spend time with my family. If there is any regret I have from my choice to be a physician that no one ever explained to me, it is that the people I love the most receive the scrappy remains of my patience, time, and sense of humor.

After years and years of this vicious cycle, battling with my love/hate relationship with medicine, I knew I needed a change.


I went to a retreat in Colorado and discovered a different perspective which I needed.  Which I welcomed.


I met someone who had a life that I could only dream of; a private plane, a private chef, a multimillion dollar house.  He appeared to have it all.


But it truly wasn’t the material things that intrigued me.  They opened my eyes to see that leading this kind of life is still possible.


He hangs out with people I only read about.  He doesn’t need to be anywhere at any certain time.  He chooses who he wants to be around.  And he's not obligated to do anything he doesn’t want to do. This man? David Osborn is one of the the founders of the mastermind group Gobundance.



And then David threw a question at me:


Do you want to work this hard for the rest of Your life?  


The question caught me off guard.  

It knocked me into a tailspin.


I expected him to ask me…

if I wanted to make more money?  

Or own my own plane like him?  

Or go on more adventures?

Or have my own chef? 

But work hard?   


That was all I knew.  That was who I was.  That was how people became successful and accomplished their goals.  That was how I would make my dreams come true.

I had done it for so long I didn’t even realize how much harder I worked than most other people. In order to make money and be successful, I needed to work harder and sacrifice more time and stress to get there.  

In fact, I believed in my core that to make it big, I had to kill myself to get there.

Do you believe that you have to kill yourself to become successful?

I wondered: who were these guys trying to find the easy way to make a fast buck so they could play?  

Maybe I didn’t have enough in common with these guys.  


Do I want to work this hard for the rest of my life?


Not the question I expected to hear.  

Not one that motivated me.  


Did I want to make more money?  



Would I like to pay less taxes?  

Hell Yes.


Did I want to work less?  

I didn’t know.  Never thought of it.


Did I want to hang with these guys who were looking for the most money with the least work?  

I wasn’t sure. 


This was very different from the intense peers I competed with and who excelled in college, med school and residency.  But then… 


These guys were all successful and looked happy.  All had much more money than me and all were having a hell of a lot more fun than me. The more I deliberated the question, the more conflicted I felt.  The more I became uncomfortable… 


Do I want to work this hard for the rest of my life?  


That question made me restless.  It shoved a mirror in the face of my life, self-image and values.  Joining these guys was unchartered territory.  But I knew I was ready for a change.  I definitely was ready to raise the bar.  

And the idea of joining them made me nervous.  


By that point in my life, I knew I wanted to stretch and grow.  I wanted change.  When something scared me, I needed to go there. 


Do I want to work this hard for the rest of my life?  


I wanted to face fear and be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Yes, I was ready to see what they could teach me.


And I have never stopped learning.



I realized a part of me wanted to be like them.  At least the more fun, less pressure, less work, “the world in the palm of my hands” part.  To decide how I'm going to rock each day rather than decide what work needs to be done to pay for and squeeze in a vacation.  To choose which adventure to book this year rather than how much I needed to save to afford one vacation.  


It was time to evolve into something more than I had lived for the past 22 years.  Since I finished my residency training, I had lived the same day, week, month and year for 22 years.  264 months.  1000 weeks.  7000 days.


Do I want to work this hard for the rest of my life?  


That weekend began my journey into a different life.


The difference between working hard in medicine and working hard in life is YOU get to choose life and how you want to attack it. 


Medicine is linear and there’s a system for everything that must be followed. 


After this retreat, I viewed my work in medicine and my time in life with a different lens.


I ensured I had quality time with my family and started other projects that fed my soul.


Do I want to work this hard for the rest of my life?

This question still haunts me to this day. It echoes in the depths of my mind. It resurfaces every time I'm given a choice. It helps me navigate my present into the future which I want to be full of more laughter, passion, excitement and adventures.


All that I have learned not only changed my life but was the catalyst for me to share so many epiphanies, concepts and strategies with other docs and healthcare professionals who don’t even know this information exists or how to access it.


That is why I created Breaking Out Of the Medical Mindset. 



Do you want to work this hard for the rest of your life?

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