How will I contribute?

Objective: Developing a desire and capacity to engage in the transformation of healthcare

Key Distinction: Contribution vs. Consumption

What creates a meaningful life and career? Is the money that your will earn? The lifestyle you can enjoy? We live in a time of astounding material abundance, yet as a society, we are no happier for it. In fact, we are suffering higher rates of burnout, suicide and substance abuse. What we really want is not so much to consume as to contribute. The more we contribute, the more purpose we will have. An implicit social contract exists between society and medicine. Through reflecting on their purpose and impact, physicians have the opportunity to define the service they will render in a personally compelling way.

Elements of the PURPOSE / SYSTEM domain: Mission, Vision, and Process

The PURPOSE / SYSTEM domain of your professional identity involves developing an intention of your mission (i.e. a self-defined purpose to orient one’s professional activities), your vision (i.e. the end-state of the mission/purpose you have defined), and your process (i.e. the way you will make progress towards the vision and to persevere during challenging time) to answer the question, “What impact will I have?”

MISSION: What am I committed to that is greater than myself?

Related Topics: Professional Purpose, Mission

What this is about
  • Having a professional direction. Smart people can do any number of things, but what issue is important to YOU? What do you want your career to impact?
  • Knowing your “Why”. Why are you going into medicine? When the going gets hard, what will keep you “in the game”?
  • Being committed to something greater than ourselves. Are you a ‘giver’ or a ‘taker’ in life?

Why it matters:

  • Leadership. If you’re in it for yourself, your ability to influence and impact others will be severely limited. People follow those who have a purpose that is greater than themselves.
  • Professional Advancement. When you apply for career opportunities, and you are asked about your career direction, will you have a well-considered, compelling response?
  • Resilience. Medicine is challenging, in training and in practice. Having a greater sense of purpose will allow you to persevere.
Prompts for Reflection
  • The people who most need what I have to contribute are…
  • The problems I feel most compelled to address are…
  • If I had $100 million in the bank, and money was not an issue, it would be meaningful for me to do…
  • The ways I can best contribute towards solving a problem are…


  • Five Years to Live: You found out that you only had five years to live. (Gulp.) You can’t put off your dreams any more. You must start the process to realize your dreams today. What would you be building towards with your last five years staring you in the face?
  • Volunteer for Something You Care About: I’m not talking about volunteering in order to have it on your resume. I’m talking about the type of volunteering where you are doing it because you believe fully in the cause. If you’re ever stuck wondering about what your “cause” is, go out there and volunteer. That is a powerful way to awaken your purpose.
  • Just Ask Yourself: Take about twenty to thirty minutes by yourself and ask, “What is my authentic purpose in life?” Then, just start writing down the answers that come to your mind. For every answer you write down, you will feel the emotional charge of that statement. Some will have more, some less. Just keep writing. At some point, you will write something that will have such a high charge that you will begin to cry. That’s the one you’ve been waiting for.

VISION: How will I define success?

Related Topics: Setting Goals, Defining Vision

What this is about
  • Defining Success. Not how society or others define success, but what does success look like on your terms?
  • Growing and Challenging Yourself. Are you maintaining the status quo, treading water day after day, or are you growing through giving yourself the challenge of working towards a better future that you have defined?
  • Creating positive change. As a result of your efforts and your career, what will have been your impact?

Why it matters:

  • Leadership. If you are looking to influence others, what is the desired future state that you will rally people towards?
  • Clarity. Defining your goals brings clarity to your day-today efforts.
  • Productivity. Having goals makes you more productive. When you have goals your actions can be better focused towards achieving the goals.
Prompts for Reflection

Prompts for Reflection:

  • A big audacious goal that I’ve been thinking about a lot is…
  • The fears which I must acknowledge around setting authentically daring goals are…
  • If I were to achieve my audacious goal, I would feel…
  • The three things which, if they happened, would make this year successful are…

Reflections & Exercises:

  • Set Goals: I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming! Don’t worry if your goals are perfect, too wimpy, or too aggressive. Just write them down. One-month goals. One-year goals. Five-year goals. Ten- to fifteen-year goals. Goals in each of the eight domains (Family, Social, Religious/Spiritual, Health, Career, Financial, Intellectual/ Learning, Leisure). Write them down!
  • Review Your Goals Regularly: After you had a chance to write down your goals, review them regularly. For goals that are for one year or less, I’d recommend reviewing them weekly. That way, you can see how to structure your upcoming week to pick off a few goals. For goals that are for greater than one year, I’d recommend reviewing them annually or a few times a year.
  • Never Give Up on Your Dream: Sure, tangible goals are nice, but you also need a dream. If you don’t have one, get one. If your dream is to have a have $10 million in the bank or a big house, that’s not your dream. Those are desires. They can even be set as goals, but they’re not your dream. Your dream involves you being involved in a community, doing something meaningful, and having a positive impact. Those are the elements for your dream. It is up to you to dream that dream.
  • 50 Goals Exercise
  • “BHAG.” Jim Collins – About Jim,

PROCESS: What is my next step?

Related Topics: Managing Self, Developing Habits, Managing Change

What this is about
  • Success is not about ‘tricks’,short-cuts, or luck. It’s about building yourself up through sustained effort.
  • Taking action. Move towards your goals incrementally every day even if you can’t see the entire path.
  • Habit is greater than willpower. Build up habits and routines which will be easier to sustain than to use your willpower.

Why it matters:

  • Productivity. You will define a process that will allow you to maximize the productivity of your time and effort.
  • Progress. You will make progress daily, weekly, monthly, annually towards your vision.
  • Impact. The impact you will have is the cumulative result of your sustain effort.
Prompts for Reflection
  • The three actions I could take this week to bring me closer to my goals are…
  • The three habits I need to develop in my life are…
  • The three people I will tell about my goals, who can hold me accountable are…
  • The three things I need to do less of in order to make time for working on my goals are…


  • Wake Up at a Regular Time: Set a time. 6:00 am? 7:00 am? 8:23 am? It doesn’t matter. When you wake up at a regular time, it begins to put your whole body into a rhythm. If possible, routinize the first thirty minutes of your day. It also helps preserve your stamina for making decisions because you don’t waste a lot of energy worrying about trivial things like when you should get up.
  • Plan Your Week: Before your week starts (or at the beginning of the week), review your schedule. There are 168 hours in that week. Think about the most important things to get done in that time frame Three to five things. Block out the time in your 168 hours to do those. Then hold those times sacrosanct. In writing this book, I had to block out a number of hours every week for writing. In time, the book was completed.
  • Inventory Your Activities: Every once in a while (e.g. monthly), take an inventory of how you spend your time. See if some bad habits have crept in. Monitor especially time on social media, video games, and TV. In the professional environment, monitor the projects and meetings you are involved with. Think to yourself: What are the three things I need to do less of in order to make time for the three things I need to do more of?

What do you mean by system?

Related Topics: Healthcare Systems, Social Aspects of Health, Health Policy, Business

What this is about
We’re no longer talking about cellular systems or organ systems, but systems of people organized to provide healthcare. Medical education has traditionally avoided the topic of social (e.g. policy, business, socio-economic) and healthcare systems. As healthcare becomes more complex, doctors will need a more fundamental understanding of systems in order to cope and lead the future of healthcare.

  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD
Prompts for Reflection
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus mollis augue sit amet mattis bibendum.
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus mollis augue sit amet mattis bibendum.
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus mollis augue sit amet mattis bibendum.
  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus mollis augue sit amet mattis bibendum.


  • Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus mollis augue sit amet mattis bibendum. Donec leo dui, ultrices sit amet arcu eu, fermentum lobortis leo. Vestibulum imperdiet ligula ac mauris hendrerit iaculis.
  • Vivamus sit amet nulla ligula. Suspendisse tortor risus, fermentum eu risus a, mollis condimentum urna. Integer fermentum sapien et venenatis ullamcorper. Proin mollis lorem non varius fringilla.
  • Nulla pretium ante massa, in consectetur diam hendrerit at. Vivamus finibus non orci sit amet luctus. Aliquam at dapibus nibh. Nunc vitae porta urna. Maecenas dictum eget nisl non maximus. Quisque mattis finibus augue, sed tristique leo condimentum in.
  • TBD
  • TBD
  • TBD


Be calm and strong and patient. Meet failure and disappointment with courage. Rise superior to the trials of life, and never give in to hopelessness or despair. In danger, in adversity, cling to your principles and ideals. Aequanimitas! ~ William Osler