Step Back, Look Forward

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3 days, 1 place and 1 friend. And all the time in the world to slow down and step back. I call it my annual retreat. Not your typical reclusive , no talk type though. The most difficult part of doing this is commiting to the days that it should happen. Somehow it keeps on getting pushed back. There is always something that seems to be more important . I even needed someone to pin me down to do it.

Why do it in the first place?
If there are times you feel that you have too much on your plate and need to sort things out…
If you feel there is more that you can do, but can’t seem to find the starting point….
If you want to look into your varied roles and figure out how they align….
When you are about to take a big leap and you need to see the big picture …
When life gives you a second chance and you need to set things right….
When you are about to start a new phase and you want to set your sight on where the next chapter can take you…

Stepping back gives you that chance to look forward.

Here’s how to ” step back,look forward” my style:
1. Get a real big push to commit your days to do this (this seem to be the hardest step for me!).
2. Call a friend to be with you. Choosing the right friend is crucial. Someone who can listen when you think out loud. You don’t need answers when you do this. You just need someone to hear you out ( so you don’t look crazy talking all by yourself! Lol!) Talking out loud what’s going on in your mind may trigger further insights. My friend J is perfect !
3. Find a place that offers less distractions. Food should be readily available when you get hungry. Television or internet preferably not available.
4. Set your goal. Mine was to set my direction for the next 3 to 5 years. For some, it can be a long pressing question that needs a careful thought.
5. Write an exhaustive list of questions you want answered in relation to your set goal. Examples from my list includes:
At what age do I want to retire? What else do I like to do other than what I am doing now? What do others say I am good at? Who do I want to be with more often? How much do I need to keep the life I have now? What else do I need to provide for my family? Your list can be different but consider all aspects of your goal.
6. Ask what’s in it for you if your set goal is met. A stress free lifestyle perhaps. Happiness in pursuing a passion. More time with family. Financial rewards. List it down too! Doing this will excite you to pursue it relentlessly.
7. On the other hand, what can go wrong if you pursue your set goal? List it all down too. Don’t mince on this one. The more you think about this, the more you will be able to prepare for hurdles and challenges.
8. Identify things you can do now to set the ball rolling. How about those that you can do in a month? Within the next 3 to 6 months? Set the timeline based on the goal you have set.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, stepping back to do this is a good thing.

Residents or fellows who are about to end their training. Doctors on top of their career. Those experiencing a slump.

Here’s to making a life not just a living! Cheers!

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