Insights From Our Editors

Career Coaching: Are You “So Successful You’re Miserable”?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
ROB Professional Editors

July 26, 2017

Your practice may be going gangbusters, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy. Cortney McDermott, former executive at Vanity Fair and other major corporations, says many Americans are “miserably successful.”

“Sometimes rock bottom can look a lot like being at the top to everyone else,” says McDermott in her new book, Change Starts Within You. “Chasing gold star after gold star, coupled with unrealistic ideas about ‘work-life balance,’ is not sustainable.”

In trying to make the practice the best it can be, it is easy to be consumed by the practice. All waking thoughts can be involved with the practice. Staff problems, money-flow problems, third-party problems, patient problems … problems, problems, and more problems. Crisis management seems to be the world in which we live.

How can we find relief? One of the first places to start is to get the practice into control. List all the problems, then prioritize them. What change will make the most impact on your practice? Do that first, then, work your way down the list.

The natural direction of the universe is to move toward chaos. It takes energy and planned effort to move toward organization. The only way to move out of crisis management is to become actively engaged in planned management. It is not easy, but it is well worth the effort.

And we also need to understand what science knows about what makes us happy. An article located HERE can help us understand this part of the equation. See how many of these are reflected in your life.

Do you spend time each week thinking about people you care for and love?
Studies show the body releases high levels of oxytocin when we think about people we love. Even when you spend time on social media looking at photos of people you like, this act raises oxytocin levels. Higher oxytocin levels result in people being happier than they were before they looked at photos or status updates.

How old are you?
•    A 2014 study found people in their 70s were happier than 18-year-olds. Both age groups experienced extraordinary events, however, older people had more life experience and knowledge about themselves, therefore, enjoyed the events more.
•    By the way, age 23 also tends to be an especially happy age.
•    The saddest age for many is that midlife-crisis period of early 40s to mid-40’s.

Do you engage in positive thinking?
A 2010 study found that there are five key items that contribute to positive thinking, which, in turn, results in happiness:
Being grateful
Being optimistic
Practicing acts of kindness
Relishing in how lucky you are
Using your strengths

Do you exercise regularly?  
When you work out, endorphins are released creating feelings of euphoria. Regular, planned exercise contributes significantly to happiness.

Do you regularly engage in submerging yourself in the culture around you?
A 2011 study found that men and women who enjoyed things like ballet and art, or even attended sporting events or church, were more likely to be happy.

Do you have a pet?
A 2011 study showed that pets increase our self-esteem, give us a better sense of belonging, and bring a deeper meaning to our lives.

Do you volunteer on a regular basis?
Volunteering creates feelings of self-esteem and psychological well-being. Those feelings lead to increased happiness.

Do you have sex four or more times per week?
Frequent sex leads to less anxiety, stress and depression. Sex also makes us physically healthier and increases our ability to make more money. A 2013 study found that people who have sex more than four times a week make five percent more than those who have sex less.

Do you try to be happy?
People who focus on trying to be happy are actually less happy than those who don’t, a 2011 study found. So, just live life and do the other eight items in this list.






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