Many changes occurred in 2013; most of which were for the better. The biggest change involved moving to a different state to complete my graduate education to become a doctor of physical therapy, but I’ve also experienced significant changes to my 3, 5, and 10 year career goals.
From new relationships to a new car, 2013 has been one heck of an adventure, filled with new experiences. I'm a big believer in self-reflection, which is why I want to share 13 things I learned in 2013, all of which I will use to make 2014 the best year yet...
1. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know.
You would think with how long I’ve been in school I would know everything, right? Wrong. Although I am proud of my education and the knowledge I have gained in the past 25 years of my life, I still have a long way to go. Some days I feel like I have a handle on the complexities of movement and the human body, but it won’t take long until I'm exposed to a new concept which causes me to feel like Billy Madison in the clip below. With the ambition of being considered among the best in my field, I'm okay with this concept as it has made me buy into becoming a "life long learner."
2. I am entering into a profession that has an opportunity to lead the way in changing the state of healthcare in the U.S.
Have you been to a physical therapist lately to get your back pain checked out? What about that nagging shoulder injury that makes itself known every time you lift weights?
Physical therapists are doctoral-level trained health care providers that help people eliminate pain, avoid unnecessary surgery, and improve their mobility and independence. PTs are trusted healthcare professionals with extensive clinical experience who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the body’s ability to move and function in daily life.
Just like dentists are doctors for your teeth, physical therapists are doctors for your musculoskeletal system. With the way our nation’s health (and healthcare system) is headed, physical therapists have an opportunity to lead the way in positively impacting the lives of healthcare consumers as well as transforming the way our society views medicine. (hint: medicine = exercise!)
3. It’s acceptable to be 26 and not married with kids.
I love my married friends. I even love my married friends’ babies. They are just making it extremely difficult to go home for family events and not get questioned by every relative about my relationship status or why I don’t have any kids yet. Since the majority of my friends have tied the knot, I’ve become okay with being questioned about when I’m going to join the married club. The way I look at it, by the time I get married all of my friends will have good paying jobs and can afford to buy me sweet wedding gifts.
4. Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
This quote has really made a difference in my life this past year. In our society (my generation is probably worst), everyone wants it NOW. Success, money, cars, relationships, vacations, you name it. It’s easier said than done, but in 2013 I've learned to “submit to the process.” I’m a firm believer in the thought that success doesn’t happen overnight, but rather success is the sum of small efforts repeated every day.
Although I’ve known this for many years, the contagious-ness of enthusiasm has become very apparent to me during the latter half of 2013. I attribute this to my role on the Physical Therapy Advocacy Team we have established at the graduate institution I attend. Basically, our advocacy team leads the way in promoting the physical therapy profession to legislators, healthcare professionals, and the general public. Being around other individuals that are as passionate about helping people as I am has increased my drive significantly. I was passionate about positively influencing and inspiring others before, but those I surround myself with have raised my motivation to an entirely new level.
The take away? If you can’t get excited about life, surround yourself with people that do. It won’t take long for their enthusiasm to be spread. *The photo below is of Florida's first physical therapy pub night. Our physical therapy advocacy team is proud to say we were first ones to bring an event like this to the state of Florida. Nothing but good things happen when a group of passionate, motivated health care professionals come together for a conversation over a pint!
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Applying this to life-- the majority of your success comes from a small percentage of the things you do. Want to increase your success, or at least mange your time more efficiently? Find out which things make up your 20% and do more of those things.
7. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, challenges readers to really think about why they do what they do. Sinek doesn’t disregard the “what” and the “how” of leaders, businesses, etc., but he states the most important aspect is “why” things are done. After reading this book, I sat down and thought to myself, “why did I spend two years of my life working toward a graduate degree in exercise physiology while teaching undergraduate courses in kinesiology, only to continue my education for three more years to become a doctor of physical therapy while running a personal training business in my [free] time?”
My experiences in 2013 contributed to my realization of my own “why.” Being able to answer this question of “why” with confidence makes sense of my career path up this point and the goals I have set for myself moving forward. Believe me, it’s much easier to get out of the bed with excitement at 5am each morning when you wake up with a purpose. I highly recommend each person with goals and ambitions work to figure out their “why” before moving any further into their career.
8. The awesome-ness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
In comparison to where I live now, my hometown in the U.P. is really cold and gets a ton of snow. I probably could have told you that while living there, but it doesn’t really sink in until you’re away for a period of time. Living in the U.P. growing up, I took for granted how unique it is (even if the nearest shopping mall was three hours away). Sure, the winter is rough. BUT, there is no better place to be than in the upper peninsula in the summer time. Now that I live in Florida, I get excited every time one of my friends asks me to tell them about my hometown. The conversation typically starts with, “Oh, you live in the U.P.? That’s part of Canada, right?” but ends with, “Wow, the U.P. sounds amazing; when can I come visit?”
Folks in sales notoriously have a reputation of being dishonest. Daniel Pink, in his book To Sell Is Human, argues that the process of selling something occurs in more people than just salesmen. From a teacher “selling” her students on her teaching methods to a physical therapy student “selling” themselves to future employers, I have realized that being in sales isn’t a bad thing and is actually an essential part of success. In 2013, my entrepreneurial mindset became more obvious than ever before. I’m looking forward to the business opportunities that will present themselves in 2014.
10. If you don’t build your own dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.
11. Building relationships is the single most important thing you can do for your career.
If I had to guess, the year 2013 lent itself to more conversations with people than I’ve ever had before. I give credit to my ability to interact with others confidently to Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” No, it’s not a book on how to manipulate others into doing what you want them to do, it’s a book on how to build relationships and successfully interact with others. In the future, I strongly believe the network you build will play a much more important role than in years past. Learning how to effectively communicate AND be a good listener are two skills that cannot be emphasized enough.
12. Time goes by too fast not to get out of bed each morning excited to start your day.
I’ve never been much of a hit-the-snooze-10-times-before-I-get-out-of-bed-kind-of-guy, but prior to this year I wouldn’t say I enjoyed hearing my alarm go off. This has changed in 2013. I’m a firm believer in doing things in life that make you happy. If something in your life doesn’t make you happy, work towards changing it. In 2013, I’ve been fortunate enough to be at a point in my career which enables me to go to bed at night excited to wake up the next morning. Every time my alarm goes off, I look at it as another opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Life is too short not to get excited about what you do.
13. There is no such thing as the “perfect time” to do something.
If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do something, you better get comfortable because you’ll be waiting for quite a while. I admit, I like to analyze everything. This has caused problems in the past as every time I had to make a big decision, I would analyze each angle to help determine which decision to make. While some may view this as a good thing, it often resulted in indecisiveness, especially if there wasn’t a clear cut “right choice.” 2013 improved this area in my life significantly. I now understand there will never be a perfect time to do something. Whether it’s launching a business or starting an intimate relationship, I can almost guarantee the timing will never be perfect. Don’t let timing stop you from these pursuits.
When thinking of how you want to approach 2014, Tim Grover and Martin Rooney tweeted two thoughts I recommend you think about when figuring out your goals for the New Year.
Let’s work together to make it happen.