Goal setting in 2017

The Ubuntu Medical rebrand is almost complete! Some of you who have come to see me in the last couple of weeks will have noticed a complete change in the practice.  The photos below give you a sense of the space we’ve created.  Now we are looking to accommodate additional practitioners to either rent or work for us. We are especially looking for GPs at the moment.  But we are also looking for most allied health professionals (particularly, podiatrists and exercise physiologists and even psychologists).  If you know anyone who might be interested—please call or email me

Ubuntu Medical Centre     Ubuntu Medical Centre - Inside

The start of the year and finishing this project got me thinking about goals and New Year’s resolutions, and generally having a sense of achievement in life. So, I’d like to share a few tips to share how best to start the year.

My 2017 is well underway, and I’m ready to work closely with clients for March and April, and then I’m taking 5 weeks off—me and my wife are heading over to Europe for a much earned break.

(1) Set Goals for the New Year

There are people who actually make the time to write their goals down (usually at the start of the year) and those who don’t. It actually is one of the most important things you can do.  Look up how to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related) if you’re ready to dig into the specifics.  But more importantly you work on your goals with someone who can keep you accountable.  They don’t have to be a life coach/psychologist etc., they can be a friend or family member.  Then review your goals with them every 3 months.

Secondly, don’t just write a whole bunch of ‘to do’ lists—your brain will get overwhelmed very quickly. Focus on 2-3 big things you wish to achieve this year and turn each one into a 3-6 month project (3 goals x 4 months = 12 months).  For me this year, I wish to set up Ubtuntu Medical Centre (as mentioned), recruit 2-3 GPs and 3-4 allied health professionals, continue to work in my psychological private practice, and support my wife in the birth of our first child due later this year.  Have a think about what the big ticket items will be for you.

Also think about fear setting rather than merely goal setting. Think about the 2-3 things that you need to do that will help accomplish the goal in the shortest period.  And oftentimes these things are scary so we put them off.  For example, with recruiting GPs to the practice—I know that I need to attend 1 big GP conference and some specific GP networking evenings as well. Networking isn’t in a ‘fear space’ for me, but the pressure attached to ‘selling’ Ubtuntu Medical Centre is out of my comfort zone, and therefore lies in the category of ‘fear setting’.

In Tim Ferriss’s book The Four Hour Workweek, he describes fear setting as writing them down, defining them, and quantifying them.

Once you know what they are, list all the fears (flow-on effects) that are associated with the core fear. For example, if you’re thinking about quitting your job, the core fee might be around reduced or lost income, the associated fear however, is your family won’t support your decision. Ferriss then explains that rating the likelihood of each fear and writing down preventative measures and contingency plans: helps your brain to re-evaluate if the fears are valid; if they’re not—their impact is quickly lost.

(2) Think Medium-Term not Short-Term

We are increasingly living in a society obsessed with short-term thinking. I find myself increasingly pressured (usually by me) into delivering short-term results.  Whether that is in pursuing my goals or responding to a communication that needs an answer. Sometimes it is just a trap.  So when you are choosing your 2 or 3 big goals for the year—it is really important for them to be at least 3 months in duration—because it will stop you from being reactive to the ups and downs that happen every day in our lives.  Or by being distracted by the short-term goals etc. that won’t matter to you at the end of the year.  To do big things in life—I feel more and more strongly that we often have to take short-term hits.  When I reflect on 2016—and what I remember about it—it really was about 4 main things for me:

  1. Supporting my wife to pass the GAMSAT exam to get into medicine
  2. Helping my mother renovate a house at Highgate Hill
  3. Building my private practice
  4. Buying into/re-brand the medical centre where I work.

I hope you all have a great start to 2017 and really set your focus on the things that actually matter.


How to put the Merry into Christmas

Christmas can be fun time, and for many it can be a stressful time. Bringing family together, and extended family, and with the addition of new partners: is a dynamic to be wary of at the best of times—let alone a day where a lot of planning, cooking, and money has been invested.

For those who have small families or dysfunctional families and are dreading Christmas because they already feel isolated and lonely in life, those feelings can magnify during these times of cheer.

Keep calm and carry on.jpg

Here are 7 tips to put the merry into your Christmas:

  1. Accept that all of your good intentions/efforts/expectations won’t be met. While Christmas is marketed as the happiest time, no one is happy all the time—particularly over the course of a three-hour lunch, or over a couple of days.
  2. Support yourself by aligning yourself to people you are comfortable with and can enjoy speaking with. This might mean stepping out of the room to make a phone call to a friend to vent and get your equilibrium back.
  3. Start the day with some exercise. Getting your body to produce endorphins—the mood-elevating chemicals—can get your mindset and energy into a positive place before seeing your family.
  4. Watch how much alcohol you have. While a few drinks may make you feel temporarily euphoric, alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel more emboldened to share your thoughts and feelings, which isn’t always necessarily received in the way you want.
  5. When you greet your family, tell them you’re excited to <insert feeling>. This might be “enjoy relax with them”, or “to talk about all the happy times” (always frame to the positive, rather than a negative statement like “not to have any drama”). This will set the tone and also your expectations for the day/meal.
  6. Know when and how to touch family members/guests. When you touch someone during a conversation, you release oxytocin in their brain, a neurotransmitter that makes their brain associate you with trust and a range of other positive feelings. A simple touch on the shoulder, a hug, or a friendly handshake is all it takes to release oxytocin. Of course, you need to use your judgement—if you do it too much or with someone who doesn’t like to be touched it will have the opposite effect.
  7. Say thank you. And attitude of gratitude is infectious and hard to fault.

There are many more strategies you can employ, and every family is different. Sometimes just talking it out with an objective person can help; they often offer insight that you can’t see (we often can’t see the forest for the trees).

Ubuntu Medical is closed between 22 December and 30 January 2017 for renovations and practice expansion. I will be working over 3-25 January 2017 from the Grange Practice, (3 Days Road, Grange). To book, go online or call (07) 3857 3777.

Best of luck for the ‘silly season’.


Sitting with personal overwhelm and uncertainty in times of business entrepreneurship

Wow what a ride the last couple of months have been. I have some very exciting news!  Ubuntu Medical (where my rooms are located) is finally getting a facelift and I’m taking 50% ownership of the Medical Centre, which I’m extremely excited about.  We have been here for 8 years now—and we thought that it was time to modernise it!

So what’s happening?
Between 22nd December and 30th January, 2017 we are closed to give the whole place a facelift.  We are taking additional space from the shop next door and creating additional rooms, which will be soundproofed; we’re adding more toilets, and concreting out the back to create 5 additional car parks! All this, with of course: a fresh lick of paint. Wow, I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Once complete—along with new branding, website, signage, shop front and reception area—the practice will look to recruit GPs, other allied health practitioners, and pathology; all very exciting stuff. We aim to be a one-stop shop for your entire healthcare needs.

I’ll see clients for most of January, but from a new location in the Grange (details to come).

Personally, the whole process has been a massive learning curve. I was attracted to the idea because I’ve always been interested in running a small business and thought that this was the right opportunity—at the right time.  I have learnt about negotiating leases, dealing with staff and change (and recruiting the right people), Internet, data, computer systems, commercial financing and long-term strategic thinking.  If that wasn’t enough, I’ve learnt about  interior design and fit out as well.


Key learning’s (so far)
(1) Dealing with overwhelm and uncertainty is probably the main psychological skill required.  I truly believe that this is true for any entrepreneurial activity.  There are times when it all feels too much, or too many people think that the idea is a bad one.  The key is to stay in the feeling of anxiety or overwhelm and not try to get rid of it.  If you stay in the feeling long enough and resist the temptation to run away—it eventually passes and your comfort zone expands.  Overwhelm is not a sign that the project is a bad one.

(2) Secondly, you can’t do it by yourself and you need the right people around you. For this project, I knew a great builder and associated tradespeople from renovating properties in my personal life.  I also found 2 really great people who could do the practice’s accreditation, business plan and marketing.  I had to find the right mortgage broker to obtain the correct commercial funding (difficult to navigate in this noisy space) to make the project happen, sustainably.  Literally 10s of people are involved in the project. Conversely, I learnt how to avoid the wrong people i.e. those who would hold the project back, which was equally important as finding the right people.

(3) It has really got me thinking about how bigger projects in life (I would also call them dreams) get completed. Firstly, they do take time and can’t be rushed.  More specifically people can’t be rushed; they need time to emotionally process the change.  We can process intellectual things very quickly but take longer when strong emotions are present.  Any change, especially to someone’s working environment is always going to be emotional.  It probably took me 6 months of planning, talking it through with people, before everyone was ready to commit to doing it.

(4) Developing a good gut feel and sense of optimism goes a very long way. I would have loved to have made every decision with 100% of all the available information.  The reality was—this wasn’t always possible.  I relied on a mixture of gut feeling and rationality to make decisions.  Importantly, a project like this is not possible without a general feeling of optimism and vision of what you want to create.

(5) If you going to do something, then you need to do it properly. This is what I learnt renovating houses and renting them out to students.  I learnt that I sometimes needed to go a little over budget to make a house nice to not only appeal to renters, but to maximize its re-sale value.  I really see the same principle applying to running a successful business.  Different components— good staff, marketing, good location, fit out—are factors that must be properly executed, otherwise the business won’t work properly, which this saying sums up nicely:

“More than this is not necessary but less than this is insufficient”.

Again, this will probably mean going a little over budget. However, in the medium to long term, provided you have a good product—this will be of little consequence.

I shall keep you all updated as I continue learning and feeling my way through entrepreneurship.


Conscious vs Unconscious Change

So what is behaviourimgres-1 change?  Literally hundreds of books, television shows and self-development workshops are dedicated to this topic. Yet it is debatable how much benefit people actually get from them. Or if they do, the change is not long lasting. In this post I look at conscious and unconscious change and explain that if people wish to truly change their lives (or a certain area or behaviour) then they must change at all levels of human consciousness.

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