Last year, I picked up on two words as I went through major transformations in life: “Forward Momentum.” Let’s talk about what led me to those words and how my dedication to this belief has benefited me personally, as well as my veterinary career. I believe a focus on this can help you in your veterinary career too.
Last fall, I walked away from a practice after five years of service. While the employment relationship was once strong, it ended tumultuously and left me questioning my 18 years of loyalty to the veterinary industry. What had I accomplished? I have served on the Board of the South Carolina Association of Veterinary Technicians; volunteered with the local veterinary technology program for 13 years. I had served on two different AVMA committees; was named the 2009 South Carolina Technician Of The Year; was appointed by the Governor to be the only Licensed Veterinary Technician to sit on the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. In 2015, I earned my Certified Veterinary Practice Manager designation.
I should have viewed those accomplishments strongly, yet here I was questioning my future with a profession I had once loved. I was burned out.
Simultaneously, my personal relationship of several years was ending. That left me feeling even more insecure about being able to trust other people. During the holidays, I was in between jobs for six weeks waiting to join my new practice. I was also moving my life into a storage unit as I worked toward securing a new mortgage — a process that would prove to take 4 1/2 months. There was a lot of self-reflection going on!
Facing this enormous change, I had a decision to make: I could choose to be apathetic and let life wear me down, or I could choose to dominate life. Path of least resistance? Sleep in each morning, lay on the couch and binge on Netflix and potato chips. Instead, I opted to find the silver linings. I got up each morning as if I were going to work, and I dressed for the day. I was determined to be productive. I made the bed. I didn’t turn on the TV. I kept my diet and nutrition on point and I remained loyal to the gym. I called upon many wonderful people in my professional and personal network for guidance and advice. I studied the lessons of several leadership coaches — mainly those of Brendon Burchard. Through a Burchard seminar, I met a personal development coach and through those months, worked with her. I created opportunities where none seemed to exist/ That’s “forward momentum.” It’s the continuing to move toward a goal in spite of the overwhelming challenges.
After reflecting, I realized leaving my profession wasn’t what I needed. I needed the chance to think differently of my career and find a new balance. I had to identify what I needed from the next practice I would join. I ultimately found one that has proven to be a fantastic match, allowing me to serve as its Hospital Administrator. But, I took it a step further. I realized that I wanted to reach more than just one veterinary practice. So, I started my own veterinary practice management consulting business. Yes, in the midst of all these heavy changes, I started a business too: Liger Veterinary Consulting. In doing so, I now have the privilege of writing articles, speaking at conferences and working on a private basis with practice managers and owners that need some guidance.
This combination of good nutrition, exercise, lessons in leadership and guidance from those in my network, along with my own perseverance to maintain “forward momentum,” helped to revitalize my passion for veterinary medicine. It was all of those things that reminded me all of the wonderful opportunities and people that veterinary medicine has brought to my life.
I also knew that if I was going to maintain this forward momentum, then I had to remain committed to it. It is not a one-time fix. It is a long-term commitment. Each day, I am conscious of my diet because I know that “high-grade” food fuel for my body means maximum performance. I make efforts to go to the gym, or yoga class or do something active. It is important to exercise the body and the mind. While I make no “therapist” claims, career and personal readiness and balance are needed when embracing “forward momentum.” For me, that means I burn that negative energy off on the treadmill, rather than allowing it to stir within me. For you, this may mean journaling, or practicing something related to your faith or even engaging in adult coloring books. It is important to maintain contact with your support team, too. It is this commitment to your focused goal that propels you forward.
I also believe in personal accountability, so I have to check-in with myself. As Peter Drucker, a writer, professor and management consultant, famously stated, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This means that we have to make an effort to lead ourselves so that we may serve others. If I am not of healthy body and mind, then I cannot effectively serve my team and our clients and patients. It is my responsibility to be at my best, not just for myself, but for those who rely on me. One check-in tactic for me is to revisit YouTube videos and podcasts by Brendon Burchard, whom I referenced earlier. Suddenly, that time sitting in traffic is time well spent if I’ve uploaded an improvement based podcast! There are a plethora of free resources on YouTube — just search “personal development” or “leadership development.”
When we can’t see the forest for the trees, it is time to back up. The forest is beautiful and it’s a shame for us to miss out on enjoying it. I want you to remember this: Even if you feel burned out, you always have the ability to “take the bull by the horns” and create new opportunities. Those opportunities might not exist on Indeed.com. Likely, they won’t fall in your lap when you need them to. But, if you remain committed to yourself and your passion, you will find satisfaction and success. If you put in the hard work, you will reap the rewards. Whatever “staying healthy” means to you, I challenge you to dedicate yourself to a forward momentum belief, so you may be the best to you and the best to serve those around you. Whatever intentions you set, honor them and do so deeply. It takes that level of connection to maximize the outcome. I know your veterinary career has brought you many wonderful experiences and relationships and I hope you are able to honor those.
No matter what you are facing, be thankful for what you still have — most of which is not tangible. This is the greatest life and career lesson I’ve learned. Generating positive energy serves three purposes. First, it keeps your mind in a healthy place. Second, it serves those around you. Third, it provides a way to connect with others. When you are mindful of humility, compassion and goodwill, there will be a strengthening in the bond you have with your team, your clients and yourself.
I think it appropriate to end this article as I end many posts and messages: #forwardmomentum