PracticeI remember a time when my sons were young and went through three or four pairs of shoes a year because they were outgrowing them every few months.

“They grow up so fast,” is an observation that every parent makes, because it is so startlingly true. I also remember waking up one day—or so it seemed—to find that my adorable little boys were now young men who towered over me. Their interests evolved a lot over the years too, of course—from toys to sports to cars and now to entrepreneurship—and so did the way I related to and interacted with them as they grew up.  That’s the nature of raising a family; you can’t procrastinate on your kids’ growth and development, no matter how much you may want to. To be a parent is to be forced to constantly adapt to change.

In our professional lives the need to adapt and grow is just as important, but because we usually aren’t forced to change by unavoidable realities the way we are with our kids, we too often give ourselves permission to procrastinate. “Someday” becomes the favorite day for getting things done.  Someday … when conditions are right, when my team is ready, when my economics are better, when I’m not as busy, when I have all the answers I need to begin, when I’m ready to take the risk. Someday is the master of delay, and we use it in our lives as often as patients use it to delay treatment that they need.

So take a lesson from the parenthood manual and make yourself to adapt to the changing realities around you, as they happen. Ask yourself if your shoes still fit. Not literally, like the shoes my boys would grow out of so quickly. I’m talking about the metaphorical “shoes” you slip into every day—in your approach to the systems in your practice, or your clinical environment, or your patients, or your economics, or your lifestyle. Do those shoes still fit who you are today and who you should become tomorrow? If not, it’s time to acknowledge that you have outgrown your past, and that you are ready for the next exciting stage of your development. 

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