by Pranay Parikh | Aug 24, 2020 | Experience, Learning
When was the last time you allowed yourself to eat ice cream? Not when was the last time you ate ice cream. When was the last time you allowed yourself to eat ice cream? A birthday? A celebration? For me, that was a few minutes ago. And it was guilt-free.
Before the last couple of months, it had been awhile. My adult whole life would associate ice cream and guilt. My diet never seemed to fit in ice cream.
This would lead to a couple of likely scenarios.
1. I’d be good for a while and eventually give in and eat a whole tub of ice cream
2. Or would give up the diet because it was too restrictive
I’d eat ice cream. And it was good. There’d be a small bit of satisfaction. And then shame and guilt. This was the only way I knew to diet. The only way to focus. It was all-or-nothing.
If I got distracted, I thought, well might as well check a few more things. Let me check my email really quick. Now that I’ve already lost concentration. There’s plenty of stuff I’ve been avoiding. Text messages. Slack messages.
Let me reconnect with the real world. A few hours later either a whole tub of ice cream has been eaten or I finally reached the end of new content on my instagram feed.
It all changed when I got a nutrition coach
All a sudden there was a cookie allowance. Or ice cream. How did that make any sense? To be honest, I was pretty hesitant at first. But I was paying for this advice. I figured I should at least try it his way. My way super wasn’t working.
So I did. I looked at the box of cookies and see that I’d be able to eat two. Two before working out and two after. It’s been awesome. My pantry has a ton of cookies now. I even got a bunch of ice cream as well.
Did you know that high-quality ice cream is soft and ready to eat right off the fridge? I had no idea. I thought all ice cream was the same. Hard as a rock when you take it out of the freezer.
And they ship ice cream now. Yes, ship. I recommend Wanderlust Creamery or Salt & Straw. Mmm, delicious.
I had something to look forward to on a daily basis. It was a small reward. Sometimes, I’d have eaten some ice cream and get a sudden urge to not work out. It happened sometimes.
But most of the time, I was able to find the motivation to do it. And then I got the reward of a little bit more sweets. It’s the small wins in life.
How often do you give yourself a small win?
I’m a simple person. It’s hard to go through the day like a monk. Abstinent. My willpower is only so strong. Eat right. Sleep enough. Exercise. And then on top of that: avoid all potential inputs so you can do deep work.
The latter might be the most difficult. We have so much on our plate that you can almost always convince yourself you are doing something productive. Replying to emails? Productive. Reading a book? Educational. Checking the news? Infuriating. But feels like you are being a well-informed citizen.
All the while, your big goal for the day is sitting there not being done. Whether it be eating healthy or working on that blog post.
Those draconian measures worked. At first at least. No sugar. It lasted for weeks. But I knew I couldn’t do it forever. Every time I’d go into work it felt like a challenge. There were donuts. Or cake. You know hospital call rooms. It’s odd if there isn’t something sweet within a few feet from you.
I would give in eventually. And then keep giving in. Because the day had already been ruined. Might as well finish that pint of rocky road.
I needed those small wins to keep myself from just giving in completely.
So what does ice cream have to do with productivity?
Do you give yourself treats for doing well? Maybe, it’s not ice cream. It could be a little Instagram. Or the news. There’s always something going on in the world, right?
I used to think that the only way I’d get anything done was to have huge chunks of time. That I wasn’t able to do anything other than focus on one thing. I know some people that can do that.
I know I can’t. But with something to look forward to, some digital ice cream, then that period of work just feels so much easier to do.
by Pranay Parikh | Aug 17, 2020 | Efficienccy, Experience, Learning
The best Ideas take time to make. Like a perfect vintage of wine. Effort, time, and luck.
There’s a handful of times a good idea has struck me. Just a few. But I think back now. Was it really luck that idea came to me? Probably. Destiny? Maybe. But there were people that seemed to have good ideas on a regular basis.
How could I become one of those people? How did I have good ideas? Would I have better ideas if I intended to? There was only one way to find out.
How I created fertile ground for good ideas?
Good wine starts with good grapes. These come from fertile ground.
I try to set the right atmosphere for great ideas. Remove distractions. Water the ground. Remove the weeds. Pray for a great harvest. The rest of those early times our out of our control.
I have two separate processes for this depending on the types of ideas that I am trying to have. Am I trying to come up with an idea that is outside of my comfort zone or an idea for a subject or process that I already know?
I try to set up the environment to match this process. If I’m working on a current project such as a blog post or a new video. Something that is a continuation of a current project then I’ll go to a familiar spot. Set up for comfort. Somewhere I know well. The rest of the process is the same.
Turn off notifications. Block off some time on my calendar. Free me from distractions or what I call mental weeds. They come up and choke life and sustenance from our fertile ground. Then do the hard part. Sit there in silence and think.
Now if I’m trying something new, a new project. Something outside of my comfort zone. I’ll try to go to a new place. I don’t have much space in my small apartment so will try working somewhere different.
Maybe I’ll stand instead of sitting. Or sit on the ground. Usually, the ground is left for serious problems when all the other places aren’t working. When was the last time you sat on the ground? I rarely do. It really feels different.
We have the most control in the beginning. Think about a color. I’ll wait. What was it? Why did you think about that color? Now think about another. What color was it? Any idea why that one came up instead of green. Or maybe it was green. Why wasn’t it blue?
What comes to us after we sit down, we have little control over. But our mental state and environment at least we have a little power over.
Feed your creativity
Great wine comes from happy grapes. You can’t just plant in the best ground and expect good grapes to pop up. You have to be careful with what you feed it. From the day the seeds go in till the day you pick them, the nutrients you give it will affect its taste.
So how do we feed our brain so that it has good ideas? You feed it with good ideas from other people. Something challenging. Or maybe outside of your knowledge base. I try to read, listen, and watch stuff from wide array sources. Of course, there are a few from stuff that I’m trying to learn.
For example, I listen to a bunch of podcasts on medicine to keep my skills sharp. But even then I try to keep it varied. I’ll listen to internal medicine podcasts. ER doc podcasts, critical care.
I also listen to podcasts on online marketing or history. You never know what can spark a good idea so I try to keep the nutrients that I feed my brain well-diversified.
On the other side, I also try to limit the junk food that I give my brain. I limit the amount of TV I watch and am more intentional with where I get any of my inputs.
That’s not to say all TV is bad. It’s more likely that I’d get a spark for a good idea from an article from a blog I follow or a podcast than I would from a TV show.
Sometimes it’s not enough
Now you’ve started off with fertile ground. Fed your brain the best of nutrients and you’re sitting there without an idea at all. Sure, you may have some not so great ones. What should you do?
As much as I’d love to say there was a solution. There’s no way to force good ideas to come. Rain doesn’t come no matter how hard we wish it.
We need to wait. Give it time. Some of my best ideas have come when I was doing something else. Not even thinking about what I needed to come up with an idea for. So what gives?
The missing ingredient needed was time. I needed to give my idea a chance to grow. My brain was working on coming up with a solution that I needed in the background. My grapes were growing.
So how do I put this into practice? It means that I’m not waiting till the last minute. I need to sit down and work on my big projects on a regular basis and give my brain time to come up with the ideas I need.
by Pranay Parikh | Aug 10, 2020 | Experience, Entrepreneurship, Learning, Productivity
Bottom Line: Your best life is out there waiting for you to create it.
I was always told to focus. There was little to be gained by doing more than one project at a time. Little did they know… that they were right. Well, they probably did know that. My advisors in residency had been advising people for a while. Who was I to try something different?
Fortunately, they had the grace to not say I told you so after I didn’t get a fellowship. Twice. However, they couldn’t have known that it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
I was told my resume didn’t show that singular focus was required to get into fellowship. That I would wake up and think, “How am I going to get closer to getting into fellowship today.” Most days in residency I just woke up hoping to survive.
On days that I had more strength, I had hoped to learn something along the way. I had always seemed a bit scattered in residency. Working with the heart doctors, the lung doctors, and even the pharmacists. I kind of just went where I saw something interesting.
In residency, everyone and everything was interesting. Not much different than now. As you can see, curiosity is a strong suit of mine. For better or worse. When I graduated I had a choice, to double down on that curiosity or to start focusing.
When my life changed?
I decided to double down on my strengths. I decided to start an online course. I had to basically teach myself critical care because my hospital was one of the many that did not have in-house intensive care doctors. In my free time, I taught myself the basics of creating a course and created the foundation of a course. Not knowing if it would turn into anything, at least I was learning something new.
Around that same time, I made a conscious decision to put myself out there. Out where? I didn’t know. I just would be more willing to whatever life had to offer. I had joined a few online physician communities and thought they would be a good place to find some kindred souls.
There were plenty of other docs that were where I wanted to be. Fellowship wasn’t in my cards, but maybe something else that they were doing was. There was a post about a local meet-up in Los Angeles, and that was my chance. I offered to host it, set it up, whatever was needed.
What happened next was mostly luck and a little intention. I believe that you increase the surface area of your luck by putting yourself out there, getting over your fear, and being intentional. My current business partner reached out to me after he saw my post. He was trying to put himself out there too. We instantly bonded.
We had a lot of shared interests including education. He had a blog where he taught doctors how to earn passive income. I thought, hey I’d like to learn how to do that, and maybe I could help you get your message out through an online course.
Since that time, we’ve created an online course on commercial real estate taken by hundreds of doctors, had a live in-person conference, and another virtual conference with over 12,000 attendees. Based on those successes, we’ve also created an online accelerator for physician entrepreneurs.
What I’m working on now?
Throughout this process, I realized that there weren’t many people who had documented their journey. I knew a few docs who were pretty successful but they had started blogging later in life. Or blogged about other topics, not how they got to be where they were.
I was always looking for virtual mentors, ones whose path I could read about to help me guide my own. I was encouraged to make my own path, and that’s where the idea for this blog came to fruition. This blog will document what I’ve learned along the way and the many failures that will inevitably happen so other people can learn from my journey.
I have started a few projects from scratch that have been fairly successful. I’ve realized a passion of mine is to help other people get up and running on their interests inside and outside medicine. To help with that, I have also created a consulting service to help other physician-lead companies and startups. My strengths lie in helping either myself or others with the beginning stages of growth so my consulting service will help with that.
I’m currently working with an established venture capital fund to help them grow their educational platform and also a few docs who are just starting to help establish their brands.
The Concierge VA
I’ve quickly reached a saturation point in the amount of shallow work I can do myself on a daily basis. To help with that, I’ve hired a virtual assistant that has made a day and night difference in my entrepreneur journey. I can barely imagine how I was able to manage life before hiring her.
When we were getting acquainted and getting her up and running, I found that there weren’t that many great resources on how to best utilize a virtual assistant. The material was superficial or just out of date. I wanted help with the day-to-day. How do I structure the job so she could be her best self?
There was so much I learned in just the first few weeks of working together that I think I could save someone else countless headaches and time. To help others along this process, I’m partnering to create a virtual assistant company for other physician entrepreneurs. We will work with the physician to match them with a VA just for their needs and to help them with onboarding. The service is called The Concierge VA and will be launching soon.
by Pranay Parikh | Jul 27, 2020 | Life Style, Experience
I always thought happiness would come if… I got the right job or married the right person. There was always something. Maybe I needed a vacation. Or some time off.
I would try and position myself in the right place. And wait. I’m ready to be happy. I’m patient, I’ll wait. And wait. It never came.
Or it would, but for a few days. And I was back to normal. Not sad by any means. normal. Neutral. Going through my days, looking forward to being happy again.
Then one day I thought. There has to be more to this. Why are some people happier than others? Were they born that way? Or taught to be that way?
My happiness was a roller coaster. A slow grind till the top followed by a few sweet moments of happiness then another slow grind. It worked for a while. I always had something to look forward to, and it did make me work harder.
But I envied those that had a more even temperament. The ones that were able to go on daily with a decent level of happiness. For a second, let me think that it’s possible to teach myself to be happy. Most other things in life are able to be learned. Why not happiness?
In the end, we just want to be happy, right? That’s the goal of pretty much everything we do. Be happy and bring happiness to others. I’ve always taught that before you can bring happiness to others that you’d have to be happy yourself. Like putting on oxygen first on an airplane.
The Game Plan
So I came up with a game plan. I prepared for a difficult challenge. As my dad always said, if it was easy then everyone would do it. I knew I wouldn’t become happy overnight.
I decided to talk to some of the happiest people I know. People I know well and who I’ve seen deal with hard times and good. Not the ones that were artificially cheery all the time. The ones that were grounded and always had an air of positivity around them.
How did they look at the world? How was it different from how I saw the world? Fortunately, I had surrounded myself with people like these.
After months and hours of discussions with my friends, I noticed two common threads.
1. How often they expressed gratitude
2. How they looked at life when things didn’t go their way
It starts with gratitude
How often was I thankful per month? A couple of times? How many times a day? Usually none. When I sat down and thought about it, I didn’t express gratitude that often at all.
Well, maybe there wasn’t something to be thankful for every day. I mean I didn’t go on vacation every day. Eat good food every day. Get something new every day.
That could have been the problem. How can I have more happiness, if I can’t enjoy the small things in life? I thought this would be a good first place to start. And so a week went by. Two weeks. I had been thankful a handful more times.
Honestly, I kept forgetting. It didn’t feel natural to be thankful. I wasn’t used to being happy for small things. So I tried to switch things up. I got a notebook and at the end of the day, I would put down three things I was thankful for. Three things from that day. Everyday.
I put the notebook right next to my bed. So I’d see it before I went to bed. Let me tell you it was a struggle. Most days I’d come up with one thing to express gratitude for, maybe two if it was a good day. But I would sit there until I got to three. Everyday.
Over time, it became easier. I’d be able to rattle off things that went well that day. Small things. Finding a parking spot right away. Finishing a blog post. Catching up with a friend.
There was so much to be thankful for every day, I had been ignoring it. The notebook also helped me on days that didn’t’ go my way. Remind me that there has been plenty of good things that have happened recently. After a while, I didn’t even need the notebook, my mind would be looking for all the good that happened that day.
The other side
Showing more gratitude made a tremendous change in my life. My life would have been better had I stopped there. But there was more. Now I had to look at how I saw things when they didn’t go my way. My failures and missteps
I realized that my happy friends looked at failure differently than I did. It was part of the process for them. An intended outcome. Did they go through life expecting that they would fail? Sounds like not that great of a life.
No, they expected to fail many times till they succeeded. A small and important distinction. Studying medicine taught us either to succeed or don’t try. Only take a class if you can guarantee an A. Bailout if things are starting to look poor. That B could forever tarnish your GPA.
Life outside of medicine was different. Failing meant that you were trying something different. No one expects you to be a master pianist right away. You’ll have countless horrible sounding practice sessions along the way before you are ready to play in front of other people.
The same could be said about starting anything new. You’re going to be bad at it. Horrible even. You’ll want to give up. I know I’ve given up a ton of times in my life already. That’s because I’d try something for a little bit. I’d realize I wasn’t a natural and quit.
There are very few things in life that I’m a natural at in life. You may be the same. Instead of looking at the end goal, mastery, I looked at the process. The journey. All the missteps and hiccups were part of the learning process. Another learning opportunity.
I can’t admit that it took all the frustration out of not getting something right the first time. But it stung a little less. Even better, something magical happened. Before when I’d ignore it when things went well. Now I was looking for learning opportunities there as well. Was it luck? Or did I do something especially right? Was it repeatable?
The good and the bad became opportunities for me to improve myself. And I was thankful for both.