Being a health care provider can be stressful. Having healthy habits in place can mitigate stress and help you be better at your job! (Part 2 of 4)
Healthy Habit 3: First Things Come First
With the many demands that medical school places upon its students, learning how to keep one’s priorities in place is crucial. There will be temptations and demands, but the student that can focus on and maintain their priorities is a student that will succeed.
Having now reached Covey’s third habit, you should notice that the list is falling in a specific order. Each habit builds upon the one it follows. While habit number two was to begin with the end in mind, number is about putting first things first. Prioritizing. It is about taking your vision and putting your energy behind it. It is about putting your energy into what is most beneficial to you end goal.
Prioritization is not just about managing your time; it’s about managing yourself. The key to this is identifying what you most value, and then putting your energy into those things. The problem many people have is that they can identify what they want, but when it comes to allocating the time and energy to achieve that, they fail to do so. As a medical student, if you want to be a doctor, you have to make the right choices to reach the end result you want.
While it may sound like a massive undertaking, prioritizing your life is not as difficult as it sounds. Medical school alone will consume most of your time. It’s the time not directly allotted to that, however, that you need to make wise choices regarding. You cannot choose how long your classes and labs are. But how you best make the use of that time is your choice. You cannot choose what assignments you will be given, but you can choose how you approach them and work to master them.
Urgency and importance are the two ways Covey laid out to assess priorities. Urgency we have little choice in; a situation presents itself and we are forced to react. Their significance makes no difference. Importance, however, deals with results. If it contributes to your end goal, then it is important. If not, it is unimportant. Covey’s “Time Management Matrix” assigns a value on a sliding scale with an axis, from urgent to non-urgent, and from important to non-important
|IMPORTANT||Quadrant I||Quadrant II|
|NOT IMPORTANT||Quadrant III||Quadrant IV|
Take a guess what quadrant you think the most effective people typically focus on.
Most people would guess Quadrant I – and they would be wrong. The actual answer is quadrant II according to Covey. While it cannot be argued that quadrant I also has many high priority influences that demand attention, if a person spends too much time in quadrant I can become overwhelmed with the stress that comes with dealing with persistent states of crises.
People all too often confuse urgency with importance which then leads those persons to spending too much of their time in quadrant III, all the while believing they are in quadrant I. Quadrant II deals with issues of the long term such as relationship building. The key to all of this is keeping yourself in quadrant II as much as is possible, while only venturing to quadrant I when truly necessary. That’s what putting first things first is all about.
Healthy Habit 4: The Win – Win Mindset
From the time we are children, we are taught to measure our self-worth through competition and comparison. It is the I can only win if I beat you, mentality. As we grow older, the dog eat dog nature of the world fails to abate and leaves society as a whole competing in basically every aspect of life.
If you can change your thinking on winning to being contingent on beating someone to something achievable through working with someone, great successes can be realized. It’s not about just showing up for your free t-shirt and participation trophy or trying to make everyone happy. It is about striving for win-win. It is all about learning to work with others for the mutual benefit of all.
You have to retrain your brain to stop thinking about your fellow students as competitors, and instead more like teammates. It’s a balancing act in which you must maintain equal parts consideration and courage. The difficult part is you have to match yourself with other students that are equally willing to think and work the same way. When this is possible, everyone benefits and your maturity and integrity shine through.
Maturity also comes into play should all parties not be able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Should this happen, it is not the end of the world. Not having a deal is a viable option to a win-win deal.
There are people you will encounter in school, and life, who will argue that when others fail, you win. They believe it only elevates them to a better position for a top med school or job. In a way, there is an inkling of truth to this, however this type of thinking is tied to a scarcity mentality in which people believe if something is denied to others, there’s more for them.
Covey believes in the abundance theory, there being more than enough for everyone. It doesn’t always seem this way, and it isn’t always true by any means, but sometimes, it is,
You have to stop thinking in terms of it only being possible to have one winner. While some of the times you come out on top feel like a win, according to Covey, they are in reality damaging possible future relationships. He postulates that if your classmates perceive you as being all for your own success, they will not work with you and you will therefore suffer losses in the long term by not thinking win-win.