The Power of Habit

Thank you for having me here for the DX Done Right podcast webinar. I was always seeking to be the best at everything. I literally started at a young age. I taught myself how to paint and play guitar, and I even successfully stole my sister’s professional camera to learn photography. Additionally, I excelled at being a nerd in all subjects except for the Arabic language. My average dropped from 100 to 99, and my God, that drove me crazy.

I told you I excelled at being a nerd. I participated in almost every school competition and was known for all of my achievements. All of that, combined with the support and ovation I got from those around me, made me feel confident and powerful beyond belief. Like, wow, I’m actually good.

So what happened next? I got to university. Do any of you want to be doctors in the future? Well, I got into the measure of my dreams and I failed my first exam. It was the very first exam in the first year of medical school. It included the basics. Those of you who have a type A personality will understand exactly how I felt at the time; type A personalities are ambitious and self-conscious.

I am always concerned with time management. In contrast to type B personalities who are more patient, less anxious, and more relaxed, I am a type A personality, never satisfied and always seeking to be more than good enough, so experiencing failure for the first time in my life was tough, especially since I experienced it away from home. Failing that exam shattered me into a million pieces. I lost my confidence, I started doubting myself, and I even started to question whether or not I was good enough for medicine. I went from a nerd in high school to a failing grade in the measure of my dreams. That got me into severe depression.

At that time, I did not realize the importance of failure. I wasn’t aware of the potential that it would add to my life and to my growth. Everything I had ever wanted fell away. I hated feeling that way. I had to change something deep down. I knew that I could get back up and try again since there would be other chances of scoring high on other exams. All I needed was to fast forward to after that exam and until I graduated from medical school, and I managed to become one of the top students in my faculty by developing new habits, so here’s what I did. I created new study techniques. I used colorful sticky notes to write high-yield information and would stick them everywhere around my room.

First, I started by drawing anatomical structures over my body to improve my photographic memory. I helped my colleagues by teaching them the subjects that they didn’t understand. I depended mainly on the active recall technique, which I highly recommend. You do it by reading your lesson or watching a video about it, and then you put it away and start taking notes on what you can recall or what you understood from it.

Second, I fixed my diet. I started eating healthy, making time to cook at home and prepare meal boxes on a weekly basis.

Third, I learned yoga, which is the art of combining breathing with movement. It’s the type of exercise that heals the body, mind, and soul. It’s the type of exercise I needed to be able to manage the stress and pressure I was going through.

Fourth, I focused on my circle of friends by keeping those who motivated me to be and do better and by staying away from those who discouraged me, distracted me, and made me feel bad.

Fifth, focus on disguise. I paid more attention to the words I tell myself every day. The thoughts I get before I go to sleep and the thoughts I get in the morning all depend on what I tell myself every day. Your words matter, so the next question is how did I maintain all of this? I used the habit loop method, which I learned from a book called Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit.” The habit loop is a neurological loop that governs any habit. It has the ability to override old habits by creating new impulses that are stimulated by new urges or behaviors. It consists of three elements. a cue, a routine, and a reward. The cue for a habit is anything that triggers a habit.

Cues most generally fall under the following categories: a place, a time of day, or other people’s queues were my desk. After I finish my classes at university, I go back home, see my desk, and start my routine. The routine is the most obvious element of the habit loop since it’s the behavior you wish to change or reinforce. In my case, the queue is my desk. I start studying, which is my routine.

And then I get to the reward, which is my favorite part. For example, the reward is the reason our brains decide that the previous steps are worth remembering for the future. It provides positive reinforcement for the desired behavior, making it more likely that you will produce this behavior again in the future. It can be, for example, doing yoga with my coach or eating something that I like.

So, using the steps we just went over, we create a behavioral pattern that activates certain brain centers whenever we perceive something, and we develop the discipline to achieve anything, as well as overcome bad habits like smoking or procrastination.

And even psychological disorders, like anger issues, for example, well, give me a show of hands. How many of you experience procrastination whenever you attempt to study or work? Well, you can put an end to that by creating a habit loop. Set an alarm for yourself as a signal whenever you find yourself in this situation.

You return to your routine after procrastinating, possibly with a guilt-free procrastination as a reward.Let’s practice this together. What is the thing that you want to do every single day and excel at? Think with me.

Choose your queue. Pick your favorite reward, whether it’s a hangout with a friend or having chocolate on your break. You want to make it easy to run. Create triggers to make it a habit right in that loop of habits and see how everything becomes possible in an easier, effortless way.

Now I’m a physician and a certified advanced life support provider. I work in a clinic and I teach medical students while helping others with the English language. Soon I’ll be launching my own medical uniform brand and, of course, my journey in medicine does not end here. Actually, it has only just begun.

My next goal is to become a specialist in the United States and become a board-certified surgeon. As Charles Duhigg says, change doesn’t always happen quickly or easily, but with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped. What I want you to take away from this experience is motivation. Motivation gets you started, but habits are what keep you going.

Believing in our potential for change We have the power to overcome any obstacle that this life may throw our way. Thank you for listening.



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