By Thu-Lan Nguyen, OD
May 24, 2017
Optometrists are motivators. We motivate our staff to be productive. We motivate our patients to be compliant with our treatment plans. We motivate our business partners to expand and grow the practice. But what we do when we need motivation?
The key to finding motivation at work is knowing what is important to you as an individual. Is it making money? Making a difference? Being powerful? Helping others?
Looking for an answer to that question, I read Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It was a reminder to me that to be great, maintain motivation, enjoy work and feel fulfilled, I have to know the answer to the question: Why do I get out of bed in the morning?
Factors that can lessen motivation include feeling overwhelmed and overworked, challenges with patients, petty staff dramas, feelings of inadequacy and boredom. All of these factors likely fall under one big category, which is usually the biggest reason for lack of motivation–a feeling that you are not appreciated at work.
I consider myself a self-starter and motivated person, but, like anyone, I go through phases in which my motivation and drive decline. To recapture my motivation, the first thing I do is to go back and remind myself of my “why.”
The search for the why behind my work as an OD has been helped by these five practices:
Celebrate your patient’s good vision. It may be easy to perform routine refractions and take a patient from 20/30 to 20/20 with a couple clicks of the phoropter. You write a new prescription, and you move on to the next patient. But I also try to take a moment to celebrate great vision with the patient. If changing lives is your “why,” then you should celebrate every time you give a patient better vision.
Recognize your practice’s achievements on social media. Social media can release dopamine in your brain, the same way a hug or physical activity does. You get a short-term rush of happiness when you post, or get a share, a like, or a comment. Celebrating your staff on social media by, for instance, recognizing an employee who went the extra mile for a patient, and getting staff involved with promoting your practice on social media, can increase motivation across the practice.
Change the background music in the office. Music can help, or hinder, your work depending on the nature of the task you are trying to perform and the nature of the music. Music can increase alertness and make tasks seem less boring. But there is nothing worse than listening to the same music over and over again, day in, day out for weeks, months and years. Be sure you don’t have the radio in your office tuned to the same station, or be sure you aren’t listening repeatedly to the same mix of music. An idea: Have staff take turns sharing their own music mixes from their favorite Pandora stations.
Invest time and energy into charity work. Don’t just donate money. Donate your time and your services. Participate in activities outside the office to help those in need, and encourage your staff to so as well. You may loose money by doing charitable deeds. But taking the time to give back will help fulfill that basic human desire to make a difference. It allows you to connect with the community, and something bigger than your practice. I recently went on an optometric mission trip with SVOSH (Students Volunteering Optometric Services to Humanity). If you need a reminder of the impact of good vision on individuals, go to a place that does not have access to regular eyecare. Providing a simple pair of glasses has a profound effect on someone who has gone years without being able to see.
Take a vacation. When you are feeling stressed, or unmotivated, you may not be able to jump on the next flight for a getaway. But the act of planning your next vacation will keep you motivated, even if the vacation is months away. Planning the vacation can be just as exciting as the vacation itself. And planning is something you can start doing now.
How do you get, and stay, motivated? What is your “why” as an individual, and as an OD? What helps you remember your why when your motivation starts running low?