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Despite the pandemic, more people than ever in the United States want to be entrepreneurs. The US Census Bureau reported that more than 4.4 million businesses were created in 2020 – the highest annual total on record, a 24.3% increase from 2019 and an impressive 51% more than the average for the previous decade. This means that many new professionals have been and are learning on the job, many aspiring to skills that will set them apart and make their concepts successful. However, these dreamers can also quickly fall into the âshiny objectâ syndrome: a craving for a new trendy side. It is often because, for some, the desire to undertake comes from a place of fear of missing out (FOMO). A person might, perhaps, hear of a colleague who was able to retire earlier or who significantly reduced their daily work. Although inspiring, these stories are not the norm and should not be a primary factor in trying out entrepreneurship.
Related: How to choose your best idea and leave FOMO behind
I’ve spoken to thousands of doctors about the power of entrepreneurship, and what seems to resonate best among them is the idea of ââimpact – certainly everyone I know who entered the profession did so to make a difference and leave a better world. Unfortunately, this impact is mitigated due to other responsibilities, such as negotiating with insurance companies or flipping through electronic medical records. That’s why I helped create an Entrepreneurial Physician Accelerator that has helped hundreds of physicians start and grow their businesses; had I had access to it early on, I could have avoided many of the personal growth traps detailed below.
Why personal development can be a trap
We, the professionals, are used to taking a well-defined path, one that integrates the university and the doctoral school, and for us doctors, a continuous and very structured training. We expect that in the end, the result will be a considerable level of expertise. In the world of personal development, however, such a structure does not exist. There are countless self-help books, podcasts, and coaches to help you get started, and while many are helpful, it’s easy to just consume them and consume them. As a result, you never feel quite ready to take the plungeâ¦ to take action.
We can also fall into âanalysis paralysisâ. I’ve seen countless doctors stuck for months trying to decide on the best type of microphone to use for a podcast, or the right software for coaching. But there is seldom a âbetterâ something, and more often than not, the needs change as we move forward. We might think we’ve learned about the minute differences, but the reality is, examining the minute details exhaustively costs countless hours of hands-on experience.
Learn new things, then apply them
So how do you avoid this honey trap of inertia? It is made by to commit to action. A moving object will remain in motion until an outside force acts on it, so it is necessary to expend this initial activation energy, and this is best done by minimizing the amount of energy required to start.
New projects or side activities can seem intimidating at first. It’s easy to embrace the lofty goal of starting a podcast, for example, to immediately feel overwhelmed by the details. An effective remedy for me came by embracing a Japanese word, kaizen, which means “continuous improvement” or “change for the better”. For me, that meant breaking that podcast journey down into identifiable and achievable steps, such as writing an intro or practicing cadence. When my task was to create a podcast cover image, I broke it down into even smaller steps. Therefore, From MD to entrepreneur came to life in a matter of weeks rather than dragging on for months, or never seeing the light of day at all.
Related: Psychology to do more (in less time)
Give yourself deadlines
What goes hand in hand with kaizen is setting clear deadlines. Have you ever sat at home trying to choose the right images for your PowerPoint instead of working on the core of the presentation? Defining a âdrop deadâ date or time (as they call it in the post) avoids this black hole, in which we think critical information is just a podcast, a book. or one more conference, and / or the tenth iteration of a concept will produce a better product / serviceâ¦ something close to perfect.
Related: Keep moving or die: 3 tips to prevent analysis paralysis
Take a break from content consumption
How much time do you have Actually work every day? Ten minutes? Thirty? An hour if you’re lucky? Author and podcaster Cal Newport often says that many of us don’t do real work, but are just commuting passengersâ¦ answering emails, reading articles and not really moving the needle. This tragic mess is often the result of leaving such real work until the end of the day because there is always another article to read or an email to respond to. But what if you told yourself that for the next 30 minutes, you weren’t responding to any emails or reading any articles, but instead focused on just one task? I know the idea may make you squirm, but there is real power in calming the outside world. When you do this, more of the real comes to the surface.