In this episode, Master Coach Jill Farmer tells us how important prioritizing your own wellness is and helps us to gain balance so we can institute self care into our lives.
“What if I treated myself as well as I treat those who I love the most in the world? How would that shift my decisions and priorities?” -Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer
In today’s episode, DocWorking Founder and CEO, Dr. Jen Barna and Master Certified Coach Jill Farmer got together to answer a question that is on a lot of physicians’ minds, “How do I carve out the time from an overbooked schedule to practice self-care without feeling like I’m being selfish?” This question is so relevant because so many physicians are so focused on caring for others that they often feel that they can’t fit in the time to take care of themselves, or they don’t allow time for it in their busy schedules because they don’t prioritize it as being as important as everything else. At DocWorking, our specialty is Coaching Physicians to achieve the best in life and medicine. That includes creating a balance between the caring for others that you do so selflessly, and incorporating time for your own wellbeing and growth. We believe that you can have it all. Our goal at DocWorking is to help you to identify specifically what that means to you, and to help you achieve it. Tune in to this episode to hear ideas from Lead Coach Jill Farmer on achieving the right work-life integration, and how prioritizing your own wellness should be at the top of your list.
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Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Jill: What if I treated myself as well as I treat those who I love the most in the world? How would that shift my decisions and priorities?
Jill: Hi, everyone. We’re so glad you’re here. Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Jill Farmer, a lead life coach at DocWorking. Today, we’re going to tackle a question that comes up a lot from our listeners and physicians in our THRIVE program for physicians. And that is, “I know I need to take more time to take care of myself, but that feels selfish. I feel I should be taking care of other people instead.” And to join me in the conversation where we wrestle with this question and come up with some good answers is the CEO and founder of DocWorking, Dr. Jen Barna, board-certified radiologist, and practicing physician, as well as the leader of our team at DocWorking.
Jen: Thank you, Jill. It’s always such a pleasure to be here with you. This is a tough question. It’s something that I’ve heard a lot from other physicians over the past year, and something that really rings true to me personally. When I tend to think of values, I’m thinking of integrity, honesty, all these different words that we like to think of. But if you say, “does something align with your values?” and that thing, at the same time should be taking care of yourself, I tend to think of my values as being taking care of everybody else. Even when I name my values, it still has to do with taking care of everyone else. Then, part of that cutting back and simplifying that involves taking care of yourself still feels a little bit like you’re crossing a line, like, is this really okay?
Jill: Super interesting imprint in your mind that [chuckles] if I’m somebody who is exemplifying my values, it has to be in some action or service for someone else. I think that’s super common among physicians. It’s a super common imprint. Honestly, it’s probably one of the reasons that contributes to a lot of burnout, because we, as human beings, are designed to serve and also designed to need to have energy, focus, and physical wellness in order to be of service. When the scales are tipped really far in the direction of this doesn’t count or I shouldn’t really value it unless it’s in service to somebody else, that means that probably not enough attention is going into what needs to happen for us as individual human beings in order to sustain that service.
The thing that is really telling, and you said that, actually, somehow, it’s the opposite of values. It’s something that’s not in line with your values, to take care of yourself really is what we’re saying. You didn’t say it in those words, but as a coach, that’s how I’m hearing it. That if I’m taking care of myself, if I’m doing things that light me up, recharge my batteries, or taking care of myself, somehow, that’s a zero-sum game, and that means that I’m not really valuing other people. The invitation I would have to explore is, what if it’s not a zero-sum game at all, but two things that need to be working in concert and integrated with each other in a more balanced and synergistic way? [chuckles] Which is a fancy way of saying we need to get some attention to both sides equally.
Jen: The logic of that makes complete sense. I understand the concept of, you have to put the mask on yourself first because if you don’t take care of yourself, then you won’t be sustained or survive to take care of all the people you want to take care of. But by the same token in the context of limited time, which is what we’re all facing– Although you rightly point out, we have 24 hours, and that doesn’t change, so it’s a perception that we have limited time. But given that perception, the concept is again, like, if I’m carving out time for myself, and even just downtime, then that is less time that I can spend taking care of either my family or my patients by definition. I’m just curious if that’s something that you come across. I’m guessing from experience that things that I’m thinking typically, it seems that I’m not the only one thinking about them from what I’m observing from people reaching out to me and from our coaching calls.
Jill: If you’re imagining people in the world that you love and admire the most, in your case, that’s probably your family, your kids and spouse, knowing you as well as they do. If they came to you and said, “Okay, I have 16 hours in the day when I’m not sleeping. Doesn’t it make the most sense for me to spend 16 of those hours doing things for other people and just not worrying about what I need to do for myself in order to feel my most alive and healthy? Shouldn’t I really be dividing those 16 hours up and just give all 16 to other people?” What would you say to them? [chuckles]
Jen: Great point. I would say, “No, of course not. You have to take care of yourself and build time for that.” Absolutely. I would want them to take care of themselves.
Jill: Right, because you would know that the human experience would actually be really diminished by the sense that you had to do everything only for other people, and that you didn’t get a chance to live and to nourish yourself, and you would know it’s not sustainable. Over time, you’ll start to get resentful about that in a way that is the opposite of what your values are. If your value is to serve, that you’re setting up conditions for yourself that you can only do it with so little in your tank that your psyche is literally primed to make it resentful so you can recalibrate things so that you can make more balance, yeah, it sounds crazy. We wouldn’t want that life for our dearest friends or family or children or spouses or siblings. But yet, somehow there’s this part of us, the guilty part of the conditioned brain that says that somehow, we’re less than if we do that. I think that’s just a fun thing for you to begin to think about for yourself, like, “Huh. What if I treated myself as well as I treat those who I love the most in the world? How would that shift my decisions and priorities?”
Jen: In the episode we just had recently with Dr. John Crosby, I loved what he said about how he would do this thing, some sort of paperwork-related thing, which normally he would not have liked but he taught himself to like it. And part of what he would do is reward himself in some way. Maybe he would take himself out to a nice dinner, or he would use the money he made from doing that to do something that he cared about with his family. I thought that was really interesting. There are ways to integrate that in, and there are ways to cut that time out for yourself. What I do hear from physicians who are reaching out is that I need this, but I don’t have time for it. So, it’s been really helpful to hear your insights about that. I really appreciate it.
Jill: When we say, “I need this, but I don’t have time for it,” part of the undercurrent to that is recognizing that you’re not being given that time. It does take some bravery at times to really recognize where your agency is, what choices you do have, and how important it is for the long haul. If this work is important enough to you to be of service for more than a very short duration of time, then I think it’s really important as physicians to recognize that there’s no jackpot or windfall that’s going to be handed to you just because you’re a super great human being who does things really, really well and who has earned all the gold stars. It’s going to take some initiative on your part to make some of those decisions for yourself.
Jen: Thank you, Jill Farmer, lead coach at DocWorking, for your insights and for all of the work that you do to help physicians and for your work in our THRIVE program. If you’re listening to this and you are identifying or feeling isolated, and having difficulty making time for yourself to prioritize what matters most to you, please reach out to us at docworking.com. Please reach out to me at [email protected]. Let us investigate and try to find a way to help you make this time for yourself and realize that you are not alone. So many of us are feeling this way, and there’s no need to be isolated. There’s a group of physicians nationwide, including US and Canadian physicians at this point, all specialties, and we’re here to support you with our coaching and with our peer support as well. Thank you so much for listening today. DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you, Jill Farmer, for all that you do.
Jen: We physicians are lonely. There’s nobody at work or at home that we can talk to about how we feel and the experiences that we’ve had. What if there was a community of like-minded physicians, coaches and mentors who you could just be yourself around? Having this kind of support will be your secret weapon to having a balanced life that you can enjoy again.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you for being here. Please check us out at docworking.com. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe. Thank you for listening.