These are my reflections, predictions, deepest desires and thoughts on my 36th birthday.
1) As I grow older, the worries can mount and the joy can be eroded and the excitement fade BUT my God, my Jesus and my saviour fills me with his spirit daily and I am growing deeper in love with him.
2) I came to a point when I was 29 when I surrendered everything to God. I prayed “break me” “use me” “send me” and God has. I would have never imagined I’d be a GP anaesthetist in Albany, married for 12 years and father of 3 boys, doing ministry everyday as I see patients in my room, in theatre and in the aged care home.
3) My wife is the most important person in my life. My job is to serve her in everything. Her countenance, her creativity and Kylie achieving her best are all indicators of this.
4) My three boys are a blessing from God. They have been entrusted to me to teach them about him, about honour, hard work and being a leader whatever and wherever their journey takes them.
5) Being a doctor is one of the greatest privileges in my life. To be able to help people when they are most vulnerable requires the greatest care and compassion and empathy.
6) Aged and palliative care are emerging as two of my greatest passions in medicine. I have had 9 patients pass away peacefully in the last 18months and the greatest joy I have had is getting to know they before their deaths, learning about their story and helping their families in this difficult time.
7) Being a rural generalist is the best job in medicine. In the space of a week, I will tend to palliative patient, anaesthetise a trauma patient, help someone with a skin issue, help a number of patients with their general complaints and none of them needed to see a specialist or travel a great distance to a capital city. I am so grateful for this opportunity.
8) The best way to be a dad to your children is giving them your time! I have found that one on one is the best. Reading stories, having an impromtu picnic or going out on an organised date. Time is love.
9) If you are not writing down your goals and tracking them, you are not destined to achieve anything. You are more likely to gain more (e.g money) if you track your spending or lose more (weight) if you track your exercise and eating.
10) I love my parents and my parents in-law. They are the greatest examples of love, hard-work, sacrifice and raising amazing kids. They also LOVE their grandkids!
11) Reading to your kids and encouraging them to read is the greatest single move you can make in their intellectual development. Start early and do it everyday. Kids who are read to and read, do better at school, have creativity and have a great start to their lives.
12) Read books. Read lots of books. The person who you will be in 5 years is COMPLETELY dependent on the books that you have read and people in your life.
13) To have one truly awesome idea, you’ll need hundreds if not thousands of bad ones. Get into the habit of writing down your ideas and predictions everyday, you will find something.
14) One of the greatest needs that people desire is to be listened to. Stop talking and listen. Be the person that people can talk to. This is something that I am working on and have great trouble doing. My brother is an excellent example of someone who truly listens.
15) Nurses. I owe a great deal to the nurses that I have worked with over the last 15 years of medical training and working. Nurses are the foundation of our health system and provide care in sometimes very difficult circumstances. The kindest people and the most warmth I have ever felt in medicine, have been from nurses. Thank you.
16) Whatever you are hiding in your life at the moment from your friends, your family or your spouse has the power to infect your heart and gradually kill you. Confess, tell someone, get help and ask for forgiveness.
17) Stop working in factories, break out on your own. Don’t be reliant on the government or your employer for your paycheque. Do something unique, teach, sell or entertain. Our Australian health system cannot be pillaged anymore. I am looking for a way to help and innovate without burdening our Government.
18) Learn to live on less than you earn. Give a percentage from every paycheck to help those in need. Giving makes you feel rich. To be rich is different from getting rich.
Start when you earn $40,000 a year, it makes it easier to give a percentage when you are earning $400,000 a year.
19) Waking up early and doing work on myself is the best investment that I have made in the last 6 years. Exercise, read, reflect and work on special projects.
20) Stop watching TV. A large library is worth so much more than a large TV. Use your time to read, reflect, create and innovate.
21) As people get older, the key difference between a “sick and frail 80year old” and a “spritely 80year old” is their attitude and whether or not they exercise everyday. If you don’t start moving regularly now, get ready to spend a great deal of time at the doctors office in the future. Trust me, I am a doctor.
22) Reading books to improve yourself, your craft, your thinking and your outlook will change your life. Sitting and watching TV, flicking through Facebook will not.
23) Stopping all social media for a period in your life will allow you to see how much your thoughts and actions are influenced by others. When I failed my GP exam by 0.43% I stopped everything to study. I would have never started to blog, gain a dermatology diploma and reclaim my time if I was still an active social media person.
24) Try to stop using Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. If you cannot. Ask why? If you aren’t happy with your life, progress, goals then continue on. Facebook and social media was designed to sell you things and keep you unhappy. If you can manage your use, then all the power to you!! I certainly couldn’t.
25) Wrestling with my boys on the floor is one sure way to lighten the mood and brighten their day. Staying playful is to stay young.
26) Boys need praise. They need to know that what they are doing matters. They need to know that you approve. Give your best words to your kids. Start young and start small. Watch them grow and see which path they take and encourage that. I have one little extrovert and performer and another sporty introvert and thinker.
27) Money needs to be managed. If you don’t have the cash to buy something, don’t do it. Having a big house, flashy car and perfect holidays on credit pales in comparison with having peace in your marriage and in your life. It may not be fun but you don’t owe anything!
28) Being thankful everyday is the key to living a large life. The secret to contentment is being thankful.
29) The people I admire the most in my life have found a passion or founded a movement and pursued this with everything they have. But they only discovered this by continuing to work and serve. You will never find your calling by sitting at home and waiting. Get out there and serve!
30) Scheduling date nights and intimate moments are a necessity for parents with young kids and a busy schedule. Physical intimacy is one of the greatest expressions of love that can get lost in amongst the blur of babies, nappies and mess.
31) I am learning that the person who gives the most, helps the most and provides the greatest value is actually the one who wins in life. The person who worries about their things and builds bigger silos for their things is not the one who wins.
32) In my week of palliative care experience through the PEPA program, dying people all seem to have one regret, more time with family. I thought it was a cliche until I saw it for myself two weeks ago. The most content people were ones who had cultivated rich relationships.
33) It is a bold prediction on my 36th birthday and it is now in the open but I believe that palliative care is an area that I would like to learn more about because it is the ONLY area of medicine that I have discovered which identifies with my spirit. I believe that in death, patients should be comfortable, content and their wishes respected. Watch this space.
34) Innovation, disruption and connection within the health system is occurring. Just like UBER shook the taxi industry, AirBNB to the hotel industry, Facebook/twitter to the connection/mail/advertising industry, if we as health professionals are not thinking about these areas, we will be left behind.
35) Prevention is better than having medical treatment. As a doctor I would rather sell you good health habits rather than medications and procedures.
To reduce the burden of health spending, prevention is the key. GP’s who care, who are well trained, confident and are focussed on outcomes vs income will change the health landscape.
36) When I became a dad, I started to realise the great love that God has for us as his children. As a dad I love my boys and care for them. I say no, yes or later to their queries and sometimes my decisions do not make sense to them but keeps them away from harm and benefits them significantly in ways they initially didn’t understand.
But now imagine a perfect love, a never ending, always and forever love. This love is for us, from a God who created the earth and who has unfathomable power. He sent his only son, to die for us, to pay the price for our sin because he loved us.
As a child of God, I sometimes wonder where is he? Why does he keep on closing doors? He is real? But then I reflect that he has held me safe, blessed me extravagantly and he lives within me, prompting me with his still small voice.
God is real. He is the perfect father. His love is eternal.