If you’ve been reading my blogs for awhile, then you know that my therapist is dope and SO necessary in my life!
Recently, she and I had a great session in which we discussed my struggles with procrastination, self-doubt, and self-sabotage.
This is something that we had been working on for some time, but I wanted to revisit the root of it.
I had certainly made a lot of progress over the past year or so, and this blog in and of itself is a testament to that.
However, I wanted to dig deeper and understand why I sometimes procrastinate and don’t maintain consistency in my progress.
I will delve into exactly what we discussed in a future blog post, however I have mentioned the gist of the incident that we discussed in the session in my first post on imposter syndrome and how it reared its ugly head during my intern year in residency.
Now, this experience is obviously something that is affecting me, given the fact that 9 years later I wrote a blog post about it and am still discussing it!
However, I had no idea the depths to which this negative encounter with a rude (and racist) attending had permeated my unconscious and was driving some of my self-sabotaging behaviors today.
I truly thought that I had gotten over this particular insult, but I had not fully.
I had absorbed the negative message of the encounter with this doctor. My therapist told me that this is because it happened during a very formative time in my career- my first few months of being a physician.
I was impressionable and at that point eager to please. The words that he spoke to me cut to my core.
I have been carrying them with me, deep in my unconscious mind.
I’ll tell you one thing: knowing that his words were still with me made me feel ill.
I needed to shake this loose. He does not deserve that much power over my life.
No one deserves that much power over my life.
I knew in that session that it would require some work to untangle my unconscious mind from his hurtful words, but I felt an incredible sense of urgency to make a change.
I needed a way to get this under control so that I can fully walk in my purpose.
I am a humble person, but I know that greatness is on the inside of me, because I am a child of God. Nothing and no one on this earth can take that away from me!
Ok, so my therapist (I told y’all she is DOPE!!!) gave me a suggestion that I have implemented. It has been extremely helpful in changing my behaviors.
You all know that I believe that you must change your behaviors before you can change your mindset.
Motivation is MOVEMENT-once you move and convince your mind that you are able to move, your thoughts will fall in line.
She thought that it might be helpful to have a visual representation of whether or not my actions are fulfilling my purpose or are playing into the negative mental model that I have created that fits into my imposter syndrome.
So, directly after leaving my appointment I went to my happy place- The Dollar Tree! (don’t judge me-the DT is LIFE!)
I purchased 2 jars and a package of decorative rocks.
I then labeled the jars as follows: Jar #1: Fulfilling my potential and my purpose; Jar #2: Not fulfilling my potential and my purpose.
At the end of each day I do a self- evaluation and place a rock in each jar. At the end of the week and month I hope to have more rocks in jar #1.
This. Changed. Everything.
I am not sure why, but there is something about having the jars on my shelf that really motivates me to stay on track and fulfill my goals for the day. (Plus, it’s so pretty!)
I tend to be internally motivated, meaning I like competing with myself.
If you wear an apple watch or activity tracker and MUST complete your steps for the day or you feel like a failure, then you are also likely internally motivated and this system could work for you!
Since implementing it, I have had bad days when I fall into my old trap of procrastination and self-sabotage, but I have noticed that there have been many more productive days in a given week than non-productive days.
This has been an absolute game changer for me!
I really love that this hack is simple, CHEAP (Dollar Tree for the win!) and effective.
What productivity tools or tricks have you implemented in your life? Do you think this one would work for you? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!
Peace and Love,
“How do you do it all?” Short answer—I don’t do it all. Not by a long shot.
“How do you stay balanced?” The truth is, my life is not balanced. Not at all. And, I think that is OK. When I picture work-life balance, I picture the words “work” and “life” on two sides of a scale, both with equal weight so that the scale is perfectly in balance. It’s a beautiful concept in theory, but do I really want my work life to equally balance with my family life? The truth is, I want to always prioritize my family and my personal life, while realizing that the demands of my career will require that I sometimes am away from home and have to prioritize work.
I like to think of this as “strategic juggling”. Picture me, in my white coat, throwing several balls into the air. However, I am a terrible juggler, and there are too many balls. Rather than allowing all the balls to fall, I decide to place 2-3 of them down at a time so that I can better manage the others. Once I get a handle on those, I pick them back up, and put others down.
Because I believe that my career of being a pediatrician that serves the underserved is my calling, I am willing to strategically (and temporarily) place the family ball lower than my career on a given day to reach a specific career-related goal; but I always pick it back up.
As an example, I give many talks, workshops, and trainings on cultural competence, specifically, implicit bias. I have also done research in this area and published in journals. As a result, I was asked to be the first author of a textbook chapter that centers on cultural competence with some physicians from Harvard Medical School. What a huge honor! However, as the deadlines approached this past year, that required many long and sleepless nights as I wrote, edited, re-edited, re-edited AGAIN—a very long process. However, I have great joy in knowing that I am contributing positively to my profession, and that my work may help the next generation of physicians take care of patients from diverse backgrounds in a culturally competent manner. So, on those weeks, I missed family dinners. I came home one night at 3:00 a.m., and was out again by 7:00 a.m. It was ROUGH. I placed the family ball down TEMPORARILY so that I could meet a deadline that would position my career for growth.
There was another week that my baby girl, Selah, was ill. I was called to pick her up from school early, but they told me that I should come around 2:00 since she was already down for her nap. Forgoing my work plans, I left work right away (and I am grateful that I have that flexibility when I am not on service!). I made it home by 11, cleaned the house, cooked a meal, picked up Selah, took her to the doctor, picked up her medications, brought her home, cuddled with her, gave her a bath, picked up my son, Israel, fed them dinner, and got them ready for bed. I did NO work that day. I made the decision to place the work ball down so that I could care for my family.
It might sound like I am super confident and sure of myself when I place the home and family balls down temporarily. Nope. The mommy guilt is real, y’all!!! I constantly doubt myself. There are often tears, both from me and my kids. I often wonder if I am doing right by them. However, when my son tells his friends that his mommy is a doctor and is helping to write a book I realize that he is proud of his parents and the work we do. Because I prioritize my family, I also try to make sure that the ball is only down for a very short period of time.
Will the guilt ever get better? I don’t know. But, I’d like to think that my children are loved, healthy, well-rounded, and amazingly bright and beautiful little people. So, I am not completely ruining, I suppose!
You may be wondering how my kids get fed and dressed, and picked up from school when my “home” ball is down? Dr. Daddy, aka Adrian, aka The Best Dad Ever. He is the biggest supporter of me and my career, and I truly couldn’t do it without him. We do not have a nanny or any other childcare help, except for the occasional babysitter, so we are a two-person show, here. Thanks for all that you do, Adrian! ❤
Do you believe in work-life balance, or do you juggle? How do you deal with the ever-present mommy guilt? Leave a comment below. Let’s chat about it and support each other!
Peace and Love,