Episode 134 | How to Stop Giving All Your Time to VetMed

When it comes down to it, creating balance in your life is simply math.

We all have the same number of hours in a week… so how do some people seem to get more done with the time they have?

How do they have time for hobbies, travel, self-care, families, relationships… 

It’s all about focus.

Two types of INTENTIONAL focus play key roles in creating balance in our lives.

There is one area that deserves Much Less focus than we give it.

There is a second area that doesn’t get nearly what it deserves.

The result: A life that’s consumed by all things VetMed at the expense of our balance, and often our wellbeing, too. 

In this episode I break down the math and show you exactly how to adjust the numbers to create an entirely different, and way better, experience for yourself!






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Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. 

Hi there. I'm Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the Joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let's get started. Hello my friends.

Welcome back to the joyful DVM podcast. If you are feeling like your life revolves around work, then this episode is absolutely for you. I'm gonna spend some time breaking down some numbers in regard to hours and the way that we spend our time in a way that really may shed some light on why it doesn't seem like there's any room in your life for anything other than work.

And more importantly, I'm gonna show you exactly what you can do to shift that so that your work, your life becomes more balanced and your work falls into the bucket of time that it's intended to be. So let's start out with a little bit of math. And don't worry, you don't have to pull out a calculator. I'm gonna do the math for you.

We're gonna start out with the number of hours in a week. We know there are seven days in a week and there are 24 hours in each day that gives us 168 hours each and every week. Now, from those hours in a week, we need to subtract out the amount of time sleeping. And for the ease of this example, I'm gonna say that we have eight hours of sleep a night.

And I know some of you are laughing out loud at that idea. Believe me, during the work week, I have a hard time getting eight hours of sleep as well. But for the purpose of this activity, we're gonna go ahead and assume eight hours of sleep, and you can absolutely adjust that if you wanna go back and do the math yourself again later.

So seven nights at eight hours a night is 56 hours. We subtract that from the 168 hours of the total week. That leaves us 112 waking hours every single week. Now we have to look at how much time we're spending at work. For the sake of this example, I'm considering that we're working a 40 hour week, and I know many of you're gonna laugh at that as well,

but I want us to think about this for just a second. Are you working more than 40 hours a week? Now, part of that, you might take a look at the way that you're scheduled. Maybe you're scheduled 45 hours a week, but you're supposed to be getting an hour lunch every day, and that's where that 40 hours comes from. And this actually matters because I want you to take a look at how many hours are you working versus how many are you scheduled,

and what's happening to the excess. Are you working more than what you're scheduled and why? Why are you staying late? Is it just a periodic thing because of an emergency? That kind of thing. We can just set to the side. If it's periodic, it's not the norm. But if you're at work and you're staying at work because you're staying hours and hours afterwards to write records or do callbacks or something else,

then that means that there are some inefficiencies within your workday itself. There are opportunities for you within the workday to adjust the way that you're spending your time when you are at work so that your work tasks get done at work, and then you can leave work behind at the end of your shift. That's part of the, what we're gonna be really focusing on here.

I'm not gonna dig into all the details on how you create efficiencies, but I want you to at least consider if you're one of those people who are saying hours after your shift, what is it that you're doing in that time outside of your shift? So if it's an hour or two hours late every single night, then I want you to look at the way that you're spending your time during your day to identify where you are spending your time doing things that actually are keeping you from doing those extra tasks or those lingering tasks that you're having to stay late to do.

So for example, if during the day you're spending 15 or 20 minutes here and there just standing around chitchatting or commiserating or complaining or blaming, then that is 20 minutes, 15 or 20 minutes several times a day that you could be maybe writing your records or doing callbacks or some other tasks that you're waiting until after hours. If you're telling yourself you can't focus to write your records because there's too much going on,

my friends, there are things that you can do to help you to focus when you're at work. When I was in practice full-time when I owned my own practice, I would sit and I would sometimes put earbuds in or I would have literally like put these little sticky notes on the side of my glasses so that I couldn't see what was happening around me so that I could focus on that.

And now that I'm back doing more clinical work these days, I'm doing the exact same thing. I'm really directing my focus back to what are the things I need to get done during this workday so that I don't stay afterwards. So that's an opportunity for you. And I've digressed a little bit from our math equation here to give you a few tips for those who are staying beyond your shift.

But I want you to, the bottom line with that is if you're staying hours past your shift, and so when I say 40 hours of your waking, 40 hours of your waking time being your work time and you, you think that's just impossible. It's just not enough time to attribute to work that I want you to look at what's happening during that time that's keeping you to staying afterwards.

My I am positive. I am positive that you will find some opportunities to use your time better. Maybe that means to delegate some things. Maybe that means that you just need to buckle down and focus whatever it is. I am positive that you can find more time in your actual scheduled work shift to get done some of those things that you're putting off and doing after hours.

And it's important that you do that because that is your personal time that you're giving away. So to come back to our equation, 160 hours a week, 56 hours a week, sleeping leaves you 112 waking hours every single week. If we assume a 40 hour work week, that leaves you 72 waking hours per week to do whatever you want to do,

72 hours every single week. 72 hours is 64% of your waking time every week that you get to decide how you spend it. That's more than half of your time. So if work is the only thing in your life, it's the only thing that gets your attention if you feel like it consumes you, we've got to take a look at what's happening in that 64% of the time that you're not at work.

And this is the space where most of us have the greatest opportunity. What's happening is not that we are at work most of the time, right? Even if you're working 50 hours a week, you're still not at work more than half of your waking time, but your mind might be, your focus may be there. If your attention is being given to work in that 64% of the time that isn't dedicated to work,

then all you have there is opportunity to shift your focus. If you take a look at people in the world who are doing the things that you want to do with their time, maybe they're spending more time with their kids, they're developing a new skill or hobby, they're going on trips, they are leading different kind of social groups, or they're interactive in some type of external organization.

Whatever it is that people around you are doing that you wish that you were doing, that you had the time to do that you had the energy to do, I want you just to consider that they are also offered the exact same 168 hours in the week that you are. They're just using their time differently. That doesn't mean that they're not spending 40 hours a week in some job,

most of them are. It's just what they're doing with that remaining 72 hours that makes the difference in the outcomes, if you will, that they create for themselves. And if we don't shift our focus away from work when we are not at work, then we're literally giving our time to our jobs. It may not feel like a choice. I get that.

And for those of you who also have on-call duty, then of course you are gonna have one eye kind of on whatever device it is that you're gonna be contacted through. I get that. But you're not required to interact with that job even when you're on call until you actually get called. So you do still have opportunity to put your focus elsewhere. And my friends,

here's the thing about the brain and the way that the brain works, it's much easier and much more energetically efficient to just keep thinking about the same things. Much more efficient to do that than it is to intentionally shift your focus to something else or to engage intentionally in some other type of activity. So there is resistance, natural resistance that comes up whenever you try to prioritize putting your focus somewhere other than work.

There's nothing wrong with you. This is a very normal human experience. And for those people who seem like they're leaving work at work who, who are fully engaged in the other aspects of their life, when they're outside of their working hours in veterinary medicine, they're not meeting any less resistance than you are. They're just simply pushing through that resistance because they know that what they want to experience in their lives and the act,

the experiences they wanna have, their relationships, they wanna have the skills they wanna develop, the hobbies they wanna pursue, they know that all of that is on the other side of that resistance. Once you get going, it's easier to keep going. That just comes down to physics, right? Objects of motion stay in motion. So just notice that with veterinary medicine,

with the amount of time that you have had to put into pursuing this career field first through all of your academics, and then once you got out into the career field that your focus has been on veterinary medicine as the primary focus for a very long time. And when that has happened, then your brain has developed a habit of thinking only about veterinary medicine.

We've just got to teach it a new habit. And in that we have to give ourselves the truth, which is that you are not required to think about veterinary medicine 24 7. It's not possible. You do have to sleep. But even in your remaining 112 hours of awake time every single week, you're not required to be thinking about veterinary medicine. When you are not at work.

You're not required to be thinking about what's happening at work when the patient's not in front of you. You're not required to be thinking about how that patient is doing. The truth is you can't do anything for a patient that's not in front of you. And so putting your focus there simply just decreases your quality of life, but does nothing to help those patients that you actually do care a great deal about.

We have to give ourselves permission to shift our focus away from work when we aren't there. And it's not a natural thing. So do not let yourself believe that people who have created a balanced life just don't have that problem that you have. They just don't tend to loop on thinking about work all the time. Because I promise you, the opportunity to loop about things at work,

have a thought loop about things at work, is always there. That opportunity's always there. The difference is just simply making an intentional decision to no longer think about it when you can no longer impact it. Whenever we think about things that we can't do anything about in the moment, we're simply wasting our own time. When the opportunity presents itself to where we can actually take action again,

then we can refocus on that thing or that patient or client or whatever the situation is, because then our focus is going to be really well-directed. We can take new actions based on what's in front of us, but if it's not there, all the thought in the world isn't gonna change what's happening with it. So you've got to learn to give yourself permission to set aside all focus on work related things when you are not at work.

This is how people create balance. And our brains are going to want to draw us back to thinking about work. This is, there's nothing wrong with you. This is what your brain does. Your brain is a highly efficient system. It's like a computer that wants to just keep playing the same program over and over and over again. It's completely capable of playing a different program,

but we have to insert a different program. If we have spent years in this habit of thinking about work all the time, it's not gonna be an overnight shift. It's going to be one intentional decision at a time. And this is where it's so important for us to take a look at that 72 hours that are not work dedicated hours every single week.

That's 64% of your waking time and decide in advance how you want to spend it. Decide in advance. That's the key here in the moment. Your brain is gonna go right to work in the moment. Your brain is going to offer you, you know, bags of chips and cookies and movies and hanging out on TV and scrolling on social media. And it's going to tell you that you need all of those things just to to cope with what happened at work,

just to decompress. But the more time that you spend doing those things, all that we're doing is we're avoiding shifting our focus towards something that's actually going to empower us. Those things are great for a while. Yes, we all need a little downtime, that's fine. But don't give away 64% of your time to coping with the other 40 hours a week that you're at work.

Do you see how that really becomes an unsustainable way of living? 40 hours a week at work, 72 hours left over, spent coping with having to deal with the 40 hours you were at work. You've essentially given 112 hours of your week to work. And I don't care how much money you make, it's not worth a hundred percent of your waking time.

It's just not. This is a skill we all have to develop a skill of being able to shift our attention to what we want to focus on in the moment, moment. And when we decide in advance what it is that we want to experience, what hobbies we wanna pursue, what relationships we want to tend to, what self-care rituals we want to practice.

When we decide in advance those things, then we can schedule those things with ourselves in our non-working hours. Work gets you 40 hours a week, and sure, as you do your own math equation, go ahead and put in there whatever your commute time is back and forth, that's fine as well. But everything beyond that, that's yours to decide how you're going to spend it.

And when you decide in advance what's important to you, and then you make those appointments with yourself to spend your time in, engaged in those things that are important to you, then there's no room left in your extra time for work to to sweep in. Now, I'm not saying that we have to schedule every moment of every day, but if you're trying to break a habit of getting stuck in thought loops about work and giving away all of your free time to work and overworking and staying after work,

if you're trying to break that habit, then I definitely recommend that you use this process. Decide where you wanna spend your time. Decide what's important to you first. Look at the time that you have. How do you wanna engage with those things this week? Pencil those things into your calendar. And then when the time comes where you've penciled it in to partake in whatever that activity is,

giving somebody a call, going to the gym, grocery shopping for the next week, partaking in a hobby, whatever it is, spending time with your, your own pets, whatever the thing is that's important to you, interacting with family, with your kids, going to functions, whatever those things are when it comes time to do them, just know your brain is going to try to offer you a reason not to.

It's going to tell you that you're too tired. It's going to tell you that you'll just start tomorrow. It's gonna tell you that you are crazy to think that you could do both. And my friends just realized that's old programming. That's what's kept you exactly where you are. That's the habit way of thinking. That's the easy way out. But all of us who have created any kind of balance,

we didn't create it by accident. It didn't just happen to us. We had to fight for it. And when I say fight for it, I mean fight for the habit that's already present in your brain. There's not a problem with your brain. Your brain is simply put on autopilot the thing that you've focused on most frequently. It's become a very efficient system.

It's not a problem. But we just need to rewrite the programming because no longer does vet Med require 100% of your waking hour focus. When we were in school, sure, it required probably like 85% of our waking hour focus between actually going to classes and and studying. It needed that kind of focus for us to make it through those programs. But now that you're through it,

now that you have the degree, you have the credential, you have the job, it doesn't require 85% of your waking time anymore. It gets the amount of time you decide to give it. For most of us, that's somewhere around 40 to 45 hours a week. 60 to 64% of your time is left over for you to decide what you wanna do.

So do you wanna give that remaining 60 to 64% of your time to work? I don't think you do, especially if you're feeling stressed out and you're feeling anxious and you're really starting to believe that getting out of vet med is the only way that you can ever make this better for yourself. I want you to listen to this because when you leave VetMed,

all you're leaving behind is simply the focus that's been the habit for so long. Your brain will replace it with something else. And if your natural state of being your normal state, I don't wanna say natural 'cause it's not your natural state of being, but if you're normal, your typical way of being has been to feel anxious and stressed out all the time.

Your brain will simply just replace it with something else that makes you anxious and stressed out because that's what your brain thinks is normal for you. But if that's not the experience that you want for yourself, my friend, you're the only one who has the power to change this. And it's easy. It's not quick, but it's relatively easy to do. You just have to simply decide with intention where you're gonna put your focus when you're not at work.

Are you going to allow yourself to keep focusing on work? If you are, then just realize if you draw the conclusion that work is taking up your whole life, you might be right about that conclusion. But don't mistake it as a, as a anything other than what it is, which is a choice. You're deciding to give all of your time to work that's not required of you anymore.

Now, some of you may do this activity and you may come to find that the hours that are required of you to focus on work are well beyond 40 or 45 hours a week. And if that's you, then I want you to consider, is that how you want to spend your time? Some of us is, yes, some of us completely love it.

We kind of have integrated our lifestyle with our career in veterinary medicine, and we don't mind this kind of ebb and flow in and out of veterinary related things day in and day out, hour by hour. There's nothing wrong with that. If that's what you're choosing for yourself and that's what brings you joy and fills you up, then do that. But if it's not,

if it's a requirement of you and not something you actually wanna continue doing, then just realize it's not magically gonna change itself overnight that the only one who can make changes in your life is actually you. And you can't wait on somebody else to make changes before you have a different experience. You get to do that for yourself right now. So even if you can't find a different job overnight,

if that's what you're believing that you need to do, what you can do overnight is shift your focus. What you can do overnight is decide that when you're not at work, that you're not gonna think about work that doesn't make you a bad veterinarian or bad veterinary technician or practice manager. That doesn't make you uncaring or lack of or full of lack of compassion.

That just simply gives you the opportunity to prioritize you and to recognize that you are more than your job. That your life is more than just what you do as an occupation. And that if there are things that you wanna pursue, if there are dreams, if there are goals, if there are skills, if there are hobbies, if there are trips and relationships that you wanna spend more time on,

then you get to decide how you spend your time starting today, that 72 hours a week that's left over outside of work are yours to do with whatever you want to do with them. Sit down, do the math. So from that 72 hours, subtract out how much time do you need to get ready in the morning? How much time is maybe commute time to work?

Maybe you shave those off and see what's left over. You're gonna find a huge number of hours there that you don't even realize that you're giving away when you do the math. That's really hard to ignore. How much time we all waste getting stuck in thought loops and worry and anxiety. That's not required though. Remember, the way that we feel emotionally is created by the perspective that we have about the world.

It's our thoughts, opinions, beliefs and conclusions, and that's it. Emotion is created by thought. When we are frozen in emotion, we are actually frozen in a thought. If we shift that thinking, we shift that focus, we shift that perspective, they all mean the same thing. When we shift that, we shift our emotional experience of it.

And when we shift it, we will take different actions. A little hack for you in this. If there's something that you have wanted to do for a long time that you just don't seem to have the time to do, insert whatever project or whatever hobby or whatever relationship insert here, what I want you to do now is I want you to go and I want you,

I'm gonna give you permission here to get on the internet, and I want you to do some Googling about that thing. So let's say you want to learn how to kayak that you have some waterways near you and kayaking always look fun and you wanna buy a kayak and you wanna spend some time kayaking, great. And right now you've told yourself that there's just not enough time that you're working all the time and you're too exhausted and there's just never enough time to to do what you gotta do to figure out how to get it done.

And so it just never happens and it just gets kicked down the road. Later, later, later. I'll get to it. Awesome. We're gonna get to it now. So here's your first assignment. You're gonna get on the internet. You're gonna go to Google and you're gonna start Googling How to kayak, where to Buy the best kayak, where to rent a kayak in my area,

where to kayak in my area. You're gonna just gather all the information, and as you give yourself the opportunity to gather all the information about that thing that you really wanna do, that you are believing you don't have time to do, I want you to pay attention to how you feel. Because as you start looking at all the different ways to get into kayaking,

kayaking, clubs, things that you can buy as far as buying a kayak, renting a kayak, kayaking, places where you can go and actually spend time kayaking. As you look at all that, what you're gonna notice if you'll pay attention is that your emotional state is gonna increase. You're gonna feel better even by sitting there just doing the research about this thing that you've had an interest in that you just keep putting off because you've bought into this lie that you don't have enough time.

Your emotional state is going to improve just by starting to do the research. And from there, then you just make the next decision. Do you decide, okay, yeah, I wanna buy a kayak. Awesome. Now where am I gonna buy it? Now you can start to do your research on that, and then you put on your calendar when you're going to go and get it,

or maybe you're gonna order it and you decide, when am I gonna order that? When am I gonna place that order? And then you get to decide where am I gonna go for my first trip outta my kayak? We're gonna research the places for that. Then you're gonna put that on your calendar. When are you actually gonna do it? And when the dime comes up for you to order that kayak,

your brain's gonna offer you a million reasons why you can't. It's gonna tell you you don't have enough time, you don't have enough money, you didn't do enough research, and you're just gonna ignore all that and you're gonna do it anyway because you know that you wanna pursue kayaking and you have the means and the time to do it. And so you do.

And when it comes time, then to take that kayak out, you're gonna have another a hundred excuses that you should do all these other things instead. And you're gonna set those things aside 'cause you already made that appointment with yourself to go kayaking and you're gonna do it anyway. And as you push through that resistance in the moment, that resistance to the things that you actually planned in advance,

you're going to build your own confidence. It's gonna be amazing how quickly you start to feel better. VetMed can wait. It'll be there when you get back. The rest of your life is waiting. VetMed was never supposed to take over your whole entire life. You can be an amazing veterinary professional and also have an amazing life at the same time. It really all comes down to how do you spend the time that you have available to you?

Absolutely give a hundred percent of your focus to veterinary medicine when you're scheduled, but give yourself equal permission to take a hundred percent of your focus away from veterinary medicine when you're not at work. Your life balance is in the difference in what you do with the time that you have outside of the time that you're contracted, if you will, to be at work.

For most of us, as I've already said, that a 60 to 64% of your waking time is not required to be focused on your job. That is your opportunity to create the balance in your life that you've been looking for, that you've been hoping will just create itself. And when you take that step to prioritize your time in a different way, you're gonna be amazed how quickly you not only feel better,

but you actually start to see those goals and dreams come to fruition at a speed that you never could have anticipated. All right, my friends, that's your challenge for this week. If this episode resonated with you, I hope you'll share it with a friend, and I would love to know what you think. You can always send me an email over here at Joyful DVM.

Have a great week. Bye for now.