Episode 33 | Understanding the Risk of Sabotaging our Lives and Vet Med Careers in 2021

The new year is coming.

So, where do you land?

In the camp of excited anticipation?

Or in the camp of dread, doubt, uneasiness, and a little bit of fear?

No doubt, 2020 threw us a hefty dose of the unexpected…


…not really more than any other year.

Read that again…

Not really more than any other year.

What we can predict has remained unchanged.

What we control, that’s remained unchanged too.

But the paradigm of what we believe…. now that’s where the real shift occurred.

For many of us, that paradigm shift created a super-dose of uncertainty.

We don’t like uncertainty.

But there is good news here…

Just because the paradigm shifted, we still have the ability to choose what we believe… we have the power to shift the paradigm again to generate what we really need most heading into 2021:


In this episode, I break down how our paradigm will create or sabotage our success in 2021… and what you can do now to tip the scales in your favor as we move into the new year.

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The risk we face of sabotaging our own lives and veterinary careers as we head into 2021, that's what I'm talking about in Episode 33. 

Welcome to the Joyful DVM Podcast. I'm your host, Veterinarian, and Certified Life Coach, Cari Wise. Whether you're dealing with the challenges in Vet Med, struggling with self-confidence, or you're just trying to figure out how to create a life and a career that you actually enjoy, you'll find encouragement, education, and empowering concepts you can apply right away. Let's get started.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to Episode 33. Today, we're going to talk about sabotaging our own success and specifically our own success when it comes to making the changes that we want for our lives as we move into 2021.

Here's the truth: a different outcome requires a different approach. And as we approach the end of 2020, many of us are already thinking about the new year. We're picking our word of the year. We're planning our new year's resolutions.

The new year offers an opportunity for a fresh start and let's face it after the experiences of 2020 a fresh start sounds pretty good. But what's really going to change? That question lingers under the surface. There are the tangibles: a new president in the United States, distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, a new year on the calendar. Everything else, we'll, that's up to us.

This time of year, I'm looking ahead, setting goals for myself and my business, developing a plan. The anticipation of what could be is exhilarating. I can feel the excitement in my body and the urgency to get to work bringing my plans into reality. But I've been around this mountain before. Despite my well thought out plans, the universe may have something different in mind. We at least learned that in 2020, right? The thing is it's always been this way.

As humans on this earth, we have the opportunity to plan ahead, set goals, and then create an elaborate strategy to bring our vision into reality. The way I just described it makes the concept sound way sexier than it really is. See, it includes not only the big things but all the little things too. Every day, we are making decisions ahead of time, and then following through with our decisions. That really is all there is to setting goals and reaching them, deciding what we want, and then taking action to achieve it.

Did you brush your teeth this morning? That's an example. You decided in advance to brush your teeth, and then you executed your plan. Did you check your email? Feed your pets? Make a cup of coffee? These are more examples of your ability to decide in advance and then follow through. Now you might be thinking, "Cari, those things don't really count. They're easy."  To this, I have two responses.

Number one: today, they are easy only because they are practiced. You've done these things so often that many of the neurologic processes required for you to plan and execute are on autopilot. Your brain requires a massive amount of energy to operate effectively. And approximately 20% of your total energy use in a day is simply your brain doing its thing. So the more processes it can put on autopilot, the better.

Number two: a reminder - they were not always easy. At some point, you did all of these things for the first time, and there was a learning curve.

Think about brushing your teeth. As children, we had to learn how to hold the brush, put on the paste, et cetera. It was clumsy and awkward, but we figured it out. We developed both the psychomotor skill of teeth brushing and the habit - consistent decision and execution of brushing our teeth daily. Or what about the first time you checked your email? For me, it was during undergrad back in the early nineties, and it required a lot of steps especially if I tried to do it using dial-up internet service from home. I had to learn the sequence of events to connect to the internet then how to log into our college server; how to locate my email account; find the inbox, open, and read; and then sending an email, that was a whole new set of steps required. Today, checking my email only requires a tap of a button or a click of a mouse. The how is easy, but the execution still requires me to make a decision in advance and then follow through with what I decided to do.

Wondering what any of this has to do with new year's resolutions, goal setting, and achievement? Only everything. In our culture where we stay so busy, most of us don't consider the "what do I want" question on any kind of regular basis. But as the new year approaches, considering that question has become a ritual. The questions themselves are all around us. What's your new year's resolution? What do you have planned for next year? And so even if we don't intentionally set aside time to consider what we want in 2021, we're already pondering it at the subconscious level. What's more, we are also experiencing the emotional energy created by that subconscious thought.

Remember, thoughts create emotions. So, even if we aren't overtly crafting plans and new year's resolutions, at some level, you are thinking about the new year and that is creating an emotional feeling or vibration inside you. If you're feeling hope and excited anticipation like I am, then your thoughts about next year are probably anchored in positive possibility. If you're feeling dread, doubt, uneasiness, or fear, then your thoughts are probably focused on what you don't like, can't control, and your negative beliefs about what you individually are capable of. It's important for us to recognize how we are feeling and to uncover what we are believing if we are ever going to have a real shot at bringing our resolutions and goals into reality and following through with the actions required to execute the decisions that we are making in advance.

Here's why: all action is driven by emotion. This includes inaction or not taking action. Every single thing that we do or do not do is driven by emotion. The emotion we experience is created by our thoughts. What we think about and believe literally creates our emotional experience. This is the sole reason why new year's resolutions fall to the wayside and goals are not achieved. It's not because we take the wrong actions or even no action. It's because we're thinking about it in a way that sabotages our success.

When asked why we don't make the changes we desire or create the dreams we have for ourselves, the number one response is, "I don't know how." This response reveals two things.

Number one: it shows us where emotions like confusion, uncertainty, and doubt are created. And number two: it allows us to recognize underlying sabotaging belief. I must know how I'm going to achieve the goal before I take any action toward it.

Traditional goal setting reinforces this sabotaging belief. Step one: decide what you want to achieve. Step two: plan out all the action items required to achieve it. Step three: get to work checking off your action items. This works pretty well right up until the point that you don't know how to achieve the thing you want. And most of us, when we come up against not knowing how, we give up. We decide it's not possible. We fail before we ever actually try.

Friends, knowing how is never a requirement in the journey to reaching our goals or creating the dreams that we want for our lives. We want to know how only because of what it helps us to believe, which is that we are capable of following through taking the actions and creating the result. The belief, "I can do that", comes easier when we can see in advance all the actions that will be required of us. And the belief that "I can do that" creates the emotion of certainty.

Taking action from certainty is easy. There are two sabotaging problems with this approach. One we've already touched on. We can't clearly see the path of how, we fail in advance by not even trying. The second, when the how we thought was right turns out to be wrong and we quit. Put another way, when the results we create are not the results we ultimately want, we decide we are doing it wrong which creates a new belief of, "I can't do this", which produces a new emotion of defeat or hopelessness, which drives the action of quitting.

So what's the remedy for sabotage? Commitment and Belief.

See, the reality is we never really know how. How is just an illusion that allows us, humans, to generate certainty. We like certainty. Certainty is the opposite of fear. Fear is our most primitive emotion, and back in the early days, it kept our species alive. But today it just keeps us from living into our potential.

This year, 2020, provided lots of opportunities for us to experience the emotion of fear. The reason why, because the events of 2020 have shaken beliefs that historically have created our certainty. What we believed was going to happen in the 2020 new year turned out to be totally different and totally wrong.  So a new belief, "I don't know", showed up over and over and over; and with it, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and hopelessness. Those emotions are still running high and we are allowing them to drive our actions, including the decisions we are making today about what is possible in the future, and this brings us full circle.

The new year brings opportunity. The level of opportunity available to us today is not different than the level of opportunity available to us at this time last year. Our ability to dream and set goals and make resolutions, and our capability to achieve it all is exactly the same as it was last year. The reason we will succeed or fail this time around is the same reason it has always been - not because of the actions we take, but because of what we believe about our ability.  When we believe we can; when we believe we are called to; when we believe above everything else, the how really is irrelevant.

From the emotion of belief, we will take the first step, which is the only step we can clearly see. It may be research. It may be a conversation. It may be an action that you aren't quite sure is exactly right, but no matter what it is, the action of taking the first step will provide new information to consider, which will create clarity and then help us to decide our next step.

This is the process: Act, Consider, Decide. Act, Consider, Decide. It is only through this repeated process that the how reveals itself and it is why belief is the only thing that you need to get started. Want to dig deeper into all this mindset stuff, and join a supportive community to cheer you on all along the way? Then the Vet Life Academy is perfect for you and I'm sharing all the details in my latest webinar. Visit joyfuldvm.com/webinar to pick a date and time that works for you, and let's create everything that we want for our lives in 2021 and beyond together.

That's going to wrap it up for this episode. I'm wishing you the very best and I'll see you next year.

Thank you for listening to the Joyful DVM Podcast. If you'd like to learn more about the concepts and ideas discussed here, and how to apply them to your own life to create confidence and empowerment for yourself, you'll love Vet Life Academy. To check it out and learn more, visit joyfuldvm.com/vetlifeacademy. And if you're loving this podcast, I'd appreciate it if you'd share it with your friends and leave us a review on iTunes. 

We can change what's possible in Vet Med together.