You’ve been working hard for a long time. Pretty much as long as you can remember. Now all that hard work is paying off, right? You have a job you absolutely love, you’re making loads of money, you have ample time to enjoy your friends and family and you can’t remember a time when you were happier and more content. If this last sentence rings true for you, congratulations! While this blog post was not really written with you in mind, you’re welcome to read on.

For those of you (doctors, residents and medical students) who aren’t experiencing your desired level of success or sense of flow in your lives right now, I wrote this post with you in mind.

You’ve overcome many hurdles to get where you are, and you have much to be proud of. Yet how often do you stop and allow yourself to feel this sense of pride? Probably not as often as you allow yourself to feel stressed or anxious about what your days consist of, and what your future will bring. Please take a few moments, right now, to appreciate and recognize yourself for all that you’ve accomplished and endured to get where you are now. Give yourself a hug, or a pat on the shoulder, or place your hands over your heart, and accept my sincere gratitude and appreciation. You are doing truly important work and you are making a difference in many people’s lives.  Thank you.

You’ve already proven that you have what it takes to succeed. You’ve shown that you can establish a difficult goal and do what’s necessary to achieve that goal. You can hold your own against the competition; you can survive lack of sleep, intense pressure and a grueling schedule. You are an accomplished physician (or resident or student,) yet you probably find yourself in limbo between trying to excel, trying to survive, and trying to somehow maintain a sense of balance in your life and your relationships.

Because there have been so many changes in the healthcare landscape recently, many doctors (including residents and medical students) find it difficult to feel hopeful, or to create a clear vision of their future. Healthcare reform is just starting to have an impact, and the implications for our practices are unclear. For many doctors, this is creating a sense of foreboding, uneasiness, or downright fear. Many doctors (perhaps even most) see themselves as “victims of change,” or “victims of circumstances.”

I’d like to offer you a better way to plan for your future. Rather than worry about what “might” be, why not focus on the aspects of your future that you DO have control over. Since there’s no way to truly know what the future has in store, instead of worrying so much about things that may or may not ever come to be, wouldn’t it serve you better to develop strategies that allow you to adjust to any changes more powerfully and successfully? Wouldn’t it help to learn how to become truly adaptable, and to actually look forward to change, recognizing that change is one of the only constants in life? After all, isn’t change what allows you to grow and keeps things interesting?

If you are not a Master of Change, by default you are a Victim of Change!

Wouldn’t you rather be a Master of Change?

How do you do this? What are the steps to becoming a Master of Change?

I’ve devoted the past several years of my life to studying and teaching this very thing, and I’m very passionate about sharing what I’ve learned with others, especially doctors, who typically view change the same way they view root canal surgery or taxes.

Like most things that are truly valuable, becoming a Master of Change doesn’t happen overnight. However, once you feel that desire and make the commitment, it’s well within your grasp. You’ve tackled far more difficult challenges in your life.

The first step to becoming a Master of Change is developing a very clear understanding of who you are at your core- The Real You.

You may think you know who you are right now, but more than likely you’re relying on data that is incomplete at best, and very possibly, totally inaccurate. Most people believe that they are the sum total of the experiences they’ve had and what society has defined them as. Most people are wrong, which is why most people lead “lives of quiet desperation.” You don’t need to be like most people.

Knowing who you are at your core-the Real You- requires you to be very honest with yourself.  Sometimes you need to get feedback from other people who know you well and you trust to tell you the truth.  Parts of the process can be uncomfortable, but if you’re committed to it, what comes out of the process is nothing short of miraculous. Knowing who you are at your core provides you with an internal navigation system (an internal GPS) that will assist you in making the right decisions– every time– for the rest of your life. And like a good navigation system, it will guide you back whenever you veer off of your true path (which is bound to happen.)

This isn’t something that requires deep spiritual practice or hundreds of hours of silent meditation, though I certainly wouldn’t discourage this type of practice if you want to go there. Discovering who you are at your core is something you can do in the comfort of your home, in just a few hours.

I’m going to share more details about the process of knowing who you are and becoming a Master of Change in my next blog post, but for now, please give some thought to these all-important questions:

  1. What are your highest values (the qualities of life you would fight or die for?)
  2. What are your unique gifts and talents (the things you do so well that you experience a sense of “flow” when you do them?)
  3. What is your true purpose in life (the primary reason you are here on earth?)

These are the key inquiries you must explore to truly know who you are, which is the first step to becoming a Master of Change.


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, Guthrie supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Guthrie is making practice purposeful.


About the Author:  Dr. Bob Uslander is an emergency physician and for the past 20 years he has taken care of thousands of people suffering from pain, fear or both.