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Don't Be A Lame Doc

The lame duck Congress is scrambling to get things done before there is a shift in the balance of power.

The term “lame duck” originally applied to brokers who couldn’t pay their debts. Only later was it applied to Congress people still sitting but ousted in the previous election.  The 20th Amendment to the US Constitution shortened the lame duck session from March 3 to January 3, but did not eliminate it. The present lame duck Congress has passed the tax cut extensions and repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This, despite the fact that lots of the votes are coming from senators and congress members voted out of office in November. American history is full of important lame duck decisions, like the decision President Buchanan made not to intercede when Southern states seceded or Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings. Don’t make the same mistake. Once you decide to move on, move on quickly. Flip the switch and start anew. Give yourself permission to divorce your new self from your old self as quickly as possible.

How? Take a page from the smoking cessation playbook.

Manage the stress with diet, exercise and relaxation

You will probably go through career alternation withdrawal syndrome (CAWS). Instead of taking nicotine gum,  treat the withdrawal symptoms with stress reduction techniques. Put the time and day of a 3x/week exercise schedule in your calendar. Pay more attention to what you eat and what you weigh. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of meditative relief each day.

Get support

You’ll need help getting through  the CAWS so surround yourself with allies and helpers. Read Freelance MD a lot and comment on the blogs describing what you are going through. Keep a journal.  Consult a career of executive coach if need be. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE if necessary.

Make a plan and stick to it

My friend, a practicing infectious disease doctor, told the rest of the members of his group that he was moving on after graduating with his MBA last May. He’s still treating pneumonia. Break the plan down into small steps and reward yourself when you hit each benchmark successfully.

Keep reminding yourself of why you are doing this

Inevitably, self doubts will reappear and contradictory thoughts will re-emerge in your mind. Drive them out. When you hear “I can’t believe I’m doing this”, shut if off. When a little voice says “But I trained my whole life to be a doctor”, turn down the volume. Remember what motivated you in the first place.

Making a career modification or change takes courage and self-discipline. You can do this. Don’t be a lame doc.

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