JTI Blog

Current events in cardiopulmonary radiology, updates about the journal’s web site features, and links to other web sites of interest to cardiopulmonary radiologists.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

T4T by Jonathan Chung: Self Control
As a resident, I thought night float was going to be a very productive time for me. Work for 10 hours at night and then get home by 9 am. That would leave me at least a few hours to study, work on projects, or run errands during the day when everyone is available and everything is open. I scheduled multiple projects or meetings during the morning after my night shift, excited about the prospects of “getting things done.” One factor I did not consider was the issue of actually having the motivation to work on these projects or show up for these meetings. I did not realize what it took to interpret imaging studies for 10 hours straight without breaks in a busy ED. This shift essentially depleted me of my motivation in the short-term. Sadly, in the end, I got next to nothing done that month--disheartening but a good lesson for the future.

Though disheartening at the time, it taught me that there is only so much “energy” one has during a day. I now know that it is difficult for me to work a busy clinical day and then expect to be able to put forth the same effort after work on projects or meetings unless I “refuel” by spending some time with family or friends, relaxing in front of the TV, taking a nap, or getting some exercise. I now believe that this “energy” I refer to is probably what experts have termed self-control. Self-control is defined as the conscious inhibition of innate or habitual behaviors, urges, emotions, or wants that interfere will completion of tasks geared toward goals or aspirations. It is clearly a learned skill as babies and toddlers do not possess it, and adults, on some level, do. Different individuals have different level of self-control, whether due to nurture or nature. I would imagine, most physicians have a very high level of self-control; however, no matter how much discipline one has, it is essential to understand that self-control is finite. Over-extending oneself can lead to disappointment, discouragement, and failure. For example, how many times have you seen someone on a strict diet decide to go ahead and binge or give up on a diet because they slipped up and had a piece of cake or some ice cream. The slip up gives the person a rationalization to quit: “This is too hard; I can’t do this.” It would have been far better for the dieter to realize that self-control is finite and build in some leeway for some comfort food so that they did not expend all their self-control. In fact, rather than dieting, a healthy lifestyle marked by moderation and consumption of a well-balanced diet (including some junk food) would be far better and achievable in the long run.

I am not saying that you should not strive to be the best you can be. I simply encourage you to lead your life with the long-term in mind. Though cliché, it is so true; life (and your career) is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself well, mixing in intense periods with times of relative rest or relaxation, and you will finish the race happy and productive.