Mastering the Inner Game in Medicine is this month’s Mastery In Medicine Monthly Tip and Progress Notes.  It will take more than a month to truly master your inner game. There’s no better time than the present to get started.
The inner game is the conversation you have with yourself when faced with a situation.  It is how you process life. It’s the filters you apply.  It’s what makes you feel good or bad as you move throughout life’s experiences.  Are you focused on the problem or visualizing the solution?

It is understandable if you get discouraged about the future of healthcare.  The headlines of hospital downsizing, layoffs and even closures makes anyone squeamish where there was once a sense of career and financial security.  Add to that the fact that most physicians have mastered the knowledge and skills of medicine and can’t imagine what they would do if faced with a career transition.  The conditioned response to the changes in medicine is a sense of gloom that many doctors feel.  That sense of gloom robs physicians of our power and potential.  It keep us feeling stuck and waiting for the other shoe to drop: another layoff, having to do more with limited resources, and physician burnout.

What does the inner game have to do with the changes in healthcare and living a life and career that you desire?  Everything!  Let’s demonstrate with a quick exercise.  Go online and read the latest article on hospital budget crisis, nursing shortages, or layoffs. Complete the article then check in with yourself.  How do you feel? What thoughts are running through your mind?  Write down the top three predominant thoughts and how they make you feel.  Do you feel empowered and ready to operate from a place of strength, or do you feel deflated and are looking for another doctor to commiserate with?  That’s the power of your inner game.

Mastering the inner game in medicine means mastering you.  Who you are? What are the gifts and talents that you bring to medicine independent of the outside circumstances, the conditions you find yourself, and the financial distress of the institution that employees you?

If you’ve done the exercise above then you’ve taken the first step in increasing your awareness of the power of the inner game.  You get to make it a game.  The more often you play that game the more you heighten your awareness of how often you are giving away your power and potential to your surroundings.  Awareness is the first key to reclaiming your power.

5 Steps to Mastering the Inner Game in Medicine:

  1. Create a list of the top 5 most common thoughts and conversations that are distracting you from your goals.  Most commonly it is the things that physicians complain about and zap your energy.
  2.  Acknowledge what is not within your power to change in this moment.  You may continue to be aware and have conversations about what is not pleasing to you, however the intention is to lessen the energy you give to these issues.
  3. Reclaim your energy by focusing on the positive impact you want to make in medicine.  Go back to the list you created in Step 1 and ask yourself what is one thing you could do that would impact your life and career positively.  Maybe you focus on improving the patient experience at your local level.  Maybe you explore how to streamline a system so that it functions seamlessly.   Maybe you develop a plan to improve staff morale.
  4. Energize yourself by taking care of yourself.  Physicians are used to taking care of others, often at the expense of themselves.  Sometimes we need to say No to things in favor of rest and rejuvenation.  Other times, it is a Yes to time with family, friends, and other activities that augment our joy factor.
  5. Strategize steps for success.  Mastering your inner game is about the commitment to take charge of your thoughts, which will direct how you feel, and determine the actions you will take.  A strategy or plan in place makes your results predictable.  At first it will feel like additional work in an already busy schedule.  With time it will become second nature until one day you will automatically shift your thoughts and perspective to what feels good.  Then you will realize you are more often solution focused rather than problem based.

Share your experience in the comments section to spread the learning!