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What if you decided to do things differently?

If you take a different path, you will arrive at a different destination

Although it hurts me, I enjoy complaining. It feels so good when I am doing it. First, I share a bad experience with a "willing" partner. Then my partner, who understands the rules, tells me their own sorry tale. If they tell it right, their tale of woe must eclipse my own. Then tag, I'm it again. And so the game continues -- each of us reaching for more "badness" to share with the other until we are overwhelmed by the state of our "disastrous" world. Although it feels so good in the moment, afterwards, complaining leaves me feeling bad. So, why do I do it? I do it because the short-term gain of commiserating with others feels much better than the long term gain of taking charge of my own experience. 

In academic medicine, there is much to complain about. Our salaries could be better, the workload could be lighter, others could work harder . . . There is no end to all that is wrong. Unfortunately, though it feels right, talking about it doesn't make it better. Instead, it changes the focus of our attention and makes it bigger. 

If we pattern our experience after what we see in our environment, we will create the results that others have. If we don't like these results, we have the following three choices: We can 1) choose to stay the same (and continue complaining); 2) go against the grain (and become the object of others's complaining); or 3) create a new environment (where we set the rules). When I talk about a new environment, I am not advocating that you leave academia (although that may be the answer for you). Rather, I am recommending that, within your larger world, you create a new home. In your home, you decide what goes. You can create an atmosphere of respect, tune in to a news channel that is uplifting, play by the rules that serve purpose . . . In your home, you get to decide. 

In your academic environment, you may already have a home. However, if you accepted the default settings, it is likely that your thermostat is off. In that case, your home's temperature closely matches the temperature of your external environment (it is really hot out there). If you want to stop experiencing the extremes of temperature (it's always too hot or too cold), then you might want to set your own thermostat.

Until you choose how you live, you will mostly live the life others choose for you. So, how can you choose to live differently? 

On Season 2 Episode 30 of the clinician researcher podcast, we discuss the importance of taking control of your academic environment. In particular, we discuss the following: 

  1. The challenge of conformity: You might feel pressured to conform to the status quo. However, the status quo hinders your ability to thrive. 

  2. Your personal agency: Despite external pressures, you have the power to shape your own environment. 

  3. Navigating toxicity: Academic environments can be toxic; but you can develop strategies to thrive. 

  4. Finding the right mentors: Look for people who want to invest in you. Just because they are successful on paper doesn't make them right for you. 

  5. Become independent: If you don't like your curfew, you might be ready to move into your own academic home. Be warned, you will need to pay the bills. 

This week, I want you to listen to your conversations. When you catch yourself complaining, ask yourself, how can I change this story? 

What if you could reject the default settings of your environment and, instead, create your own? How would it change your current experience. 

🎙️ News you can use:

We will be opening up enrollments for the next cohort of the Clinician Researcher Academy. Clinician Researcher Academy is your gateway to creating the research career you actually want. Interested? Sign up to join the waitlist here. Once the application portal opens, you will be the first to hear about it. Spoiler alert, it is going to be super awesome!

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