Category Archives: Motivational

Posts that are meant to inspire you to aim higher, work harder, and succeed more.

Downsizing My Life

Messy Desk

Messy Desk - Flickr

Over the next two weeks, starting tomorrow, I will be downsizing my life. This downsizing will take place in tandem with a few other projects I’ve decided to work on. I’ll announce the details of the other projects as they come up in case anyone is interested.

So, what does all this talk of downsizing entail? It involves an idea that “stuff” we acquire and hang on to throughout our lives can be both good or bad. Some of the good “stuff” might be the last surviving records of your grandparents immigration via Ellis Island. Bad “stuff” is that which doesn’t give any real value, and just hangs around taking up space. Bad stuff can sap you of time and mental energies as you fight to keep a handle on all the stuff you own.

The idea behind my current downsizing project came from the author Rolf Potts. Potts wrote books about travelling the world with little to his name and wrote a lot about the value of “stuff” and how he saw it affecting lives. He writes:

“…neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.”

These words rang true to me when I first read them almost three years ago. However, I didn’t act on the thoughts and ideas inspired by these words back then. Seeing Potts words again, I don’t think I’ll make the same mistake twice. I will be selling and/or giving away those things which I don’t need or use any more. I will be as ruthless as possible in purging all the excess “stuff” from my life.

It’s not as bad as you think! And no, I have not gone crazy…not yet that is. 🙂 I’ll be keeping a careful list of the things that I part ways with. At the end of the two weeks, I’ll post the, hopefully, long list of stuff I managed to ditch. My hope is to raise a little money from it and take a trip somewhere with it before the end of the summer when medical school starts. At the least, this purging of “stuff” will allow me to make the move to Dominica with little/less trouble. 😉


Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Motivational, Personal


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Living An Extraordinary Life

Symbol used for motorways in the United Kingdom.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m the sort of person that always strives to live my life the way I wanted. I think we all imagine that we will experience lives that are amazing and far from ordinary. I think there is nothing wrong with this. Having something to stretch for, to shoot for a dream, is a great thing. For me, one of my dreams is to practice medicine in places around the world where access to medical care is not readily available. Ideally, I’d like to settle somewhere in the rural US after a few years working abroad. I don’t know if this dream is possible, or if my life will come to resemble anything close that which I dream of.

What I do know is that if I didn’t have the dream I would be lost. There are so many ways to go in life. Having a dream is like having a GPS on your dashboard. Decision points come up in our lives and ask us to pick a direction that might alter our path slightly. I picture these points like a toll booth at a motorway entrance. Do you take the motorway north or south? Do you take the south-bound motorway since the traffic report on the radio said there was construction and delays for north-bound traffic? Your trusty GPS will prompt you to go on way or another. After passing through enough toll booths in our lives we begin to carve out a direction for ourselves, our final destination becomes clearer.

All of this leads back to living an extraordinary life. When faced with a choise, a toll booth in the road, we would do well to consider two things:

1.) How will this decision get me closer to my goal?

2.) Will taking one direction over another better get me to my goal?

If both ways move you towards your end goal the question you can now ask is, “Which direction will give me a great story to tell?” Aim to collect great stories as you journey through life. I think you’ll find that, when you look back, you will have led an extraordinary life indeed.

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Motivational


Fear: Friend or Foe?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt - Image via Wikipedia

Fear is, for most people, something that is to be avoided at all costs.But why do we have the uncontrollable urge to run away from things that we fear? Most likely, it has something to do with our biology that we hold on to from back in the days where being afraid was the thing that kept us on edge, that kept us alive. Fear was being prepared for the lion bearing down on you in the tall grass,and avoiding the tall grass if possible.

In today’s world most of our base needs are provided for within reason.We have the luxury of being able to expend our energies on things that do not relate to finding food, making shelter, or avoiding harm. However, I think that our hard-wiring for fear prevents us from taking risks that would benefit us. We avoid things like speaking to a cute stranger we met on the bus out of fear that they could be a closet psychopath, or that they might hurt us emotionally by snubbing our advances. We still have the avoidance of fear, but for most situations, for the majority of us, it is an unjustified fear.

So what can we do about it? By recognizing that we may have fears that are not equal to the perceived threat we can make a choice to ignore the fear and act anyways. With time we might learn to  distinguish better between irrational fear and justified fear. When we learn to take on the fear we are feeling and turn it into something positive we enable ourselves to become better, to do more, to grow. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inauguration address, summed things up perfectly when he said:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning,unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Has there ever been a time when fear has kept you from acting? Was the fear a rational or an irrational fear? Did you later regret not doing something? 


Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Motivational


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The Journey Is The Reward

The journey can feel like an eternity when you’re waiting for something that could change the next several years of your life. Being premed students, we tend to wait for a lot of these life-changing decisions and we don’t always do it so gracefully. We wait for MCAT results, for that acceptance letter, or for a big presentation you have to do.

With so much of our time spent waiting in a state of limbo until a decision comes down from up on high and directs us one way or another you would think that we would be some of the most patient people ever. Instead, premeds tend to be some of the most nail-biting, hand-wringing, teeth gnashing worry wort people. We excel at stressing out over things beyond our control. We abhor the uncertainty of not knowing.

I know people that can turn off all their worries and concerns and just be. I envy them. They are calm and collected in the days leading up to the arrival of their acceptance letters and test results. What is it that makes them better able to handle the stress than most premed students out there? I got the chance to pick the mind of one of these people, and here’s what I found:

1. Look at the bigger picture. – If you’re constantly stressing over something, then chances are that you’re not looking at this things from the bigger picture/perspective. I’m talking the cosmological perspective here, not the typical 10 years from now perspective.

I tried this out in a meditation of sorts last night to see if I could gain any relief from my stomach gnawing worry over waiting to hear back from med schools about my acceptance or rejection. I pictured myself from above like a fly on the wall. I watched myself pacing around, worrying about the results of my application. Then I tried pulling back the view a little. I was now looking at myself 20 feet in the air. I kept pulling the camera out so to speak, 100 ft, 1000 ft, 1 mile, 10 miles and so on. By the end of all this I was looking at the universe itself and thinking about how long it had been there and how long it would be there. It was a reminder of the flickering of an instant that our lives occupy this space.Worrying about the results of my med school acceptance seemed to pale next to the grandiose scale of the universe and all things in it. I laughed at the silliness of it all.

2. If you can’t directly influence something than let it go. – It’s bad for your health to hold on to things past the point where you can, realistically, have any sort of effect on the outcome. You are expending energy needlessly. Go exercise or read a book instead. Study your lecture notes. Do anything to channel that latent energy towards something that you can influence and you can make a difference in.

3. Find things you can love equally. – Don’t allow medicine or school to be your only passion. If you suddenly found yourself unable to work towards that goal or dream anymore what would you be left with? My guess is you’d be kind of empty. Find a hobby or activity that you can learn to love just as much. You’ll find yourself a more rounded person and you will have something to fall back on when times get tough. For me, it’s my love of languages and cultures that I enjoy as well as golf and tennis(even though I suck at tennis).

How often are you worried or stressed out? What things do you do to handle stress?


Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Motivational


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SDN: 4chan of Premed Universe?

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If you’ve been a premed student or med student long enough chances are you’ve heard of (herein referred to as SDN). Now granted, the title of this blog entry is a little extreme, but I think it highlights some of the dangers of SDN. I want to examine the world of premeds when given a vehicle like the interwebs to connect with one another.

The Good:

SDN has a core group of members on there that are typically sane and dole out sound, constructive advise to lost premeds that stumble onto the forum. These people are usually, but not always, attendings, residents, or med students that have been in their program for a while.  They are Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Motivational, Personal


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Winnable Games

Game Strategy Board

In a previous article on Timeboxing I wrote about how to use timeboxing to help you procrastinate less and get things done quicker. The way to make timeboxing work for the things that you really can’t seem to motivate yourself to do is to look at the reasons behind why you don’t want to do the task. I think, for me at least, the reason I put something off comes down to two things: the task is not seen as being fun and it is seen as taking too long to complete in comparison to the energy I have to put into it.

Timeboxing can help make tasks more fun and quicker. Your first step is to break down a large, seemingly insurmountable task into smaller bits. Break down the heck out of a task! I don’t care how ridiculous it may seem to keep making the actionable tasks you have even smaller and more minuscule. Do it! By leaving yourself with 100 mini-tasks instead of 1 giant project you have taken the level of perceived energy need to complete things down significantly. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 12, 2011 in Motivational, Study Tips


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Comfort Zone, Growth Zone, and Freakout Zone

There are levels of comfort that we all have that set our boundaries to the things we will/will not do. This is known as our comfort zone. If the situation that we’re presented with falls within our comfort zone we are cool, calm, and collected. If the situation falls outside that comfort zone however then we start seeing problems arise. We become uncomfortable, to varying degrees depending on how far outside our comfort zone we find ourselves. In order to expand our comfort zone we need a way to push ourselves safely. This is where our growth zone comes into play. Here’s a diagram a made to help explain things better.

Graph of various comfort zones

Graph of various comfort zones

I used to be extremely bad with speaking in front of groups. I couldn’t do it well, and I didn’t want to do it either. My comfort zone was very small when it came to public speaking.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Motivational


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