Do something that scares you!

February 6, 2012

This time of year I find myself resolving and cleaning. Each year, Mark and I sit down to set our goals for the upcoming year. We started this the year we were married. It might have had something to do with opening our first practice within two years of our wedding, but regardless, we’ve kept up the tradition.

Usually we have five or six goals that we write on a piece of paper and put them in a file for safekeeping. Sometimes the goals are personal: He wants to better his time in a cross-country ski race. Sometimes they are project-related: Remodel the basement bathroom. Sometimes they are financial: Pay off the loan on the lake cabin.  And every year something relates to optometry:  Switch over to electronic health records. One year we wrote down: “See every baby born in the county for an InfantSEE® exam.”

I read somewhere that the physical act of writing down a goal makes you much more apt to achieve that goal. 

Anecdotally, I would have to believe there is some truth to that, as more times than naught, we have achieved our goals – including seeing about two-thirds of the babies born in the county each year.

In addition to setting goals, I also clean closets and files in an attempt to get things in order for the next year. I have a stash of memorabilia under my bed in three Rubbermaid containers. Treasured items dating back to approximately 2004 when I ran for the AOA Board. The other day, I realized they needed some attention since the boxes would no longer close. So, I sat on the floor of my bedroom sorting through cards, notes, mementos and many copies of the AOA News dating back to 2003. I also found a note from my younger son informing my husband and I that he was going to run away from home. He’s still with us and I don’t remember the attempt! Someday I will have incredible scrapbooks, but for now, those will have to wait until I am no longer on the AOA Board.

It was interesting to read several years of the AOA News in succession, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Illegal contact lens sales. Verification of contact lens prescriptions.  InfantSEE®, Medicare fee cuts. Senate Bill 1955 and the issues of discrimination against optometrists in health plans. Entry-level eye exams before starting school. The future of optometry in a series of 20/20 Summits. Medicare Fees Cuts. PQRI. Electronic health records. Scope of practice enhancements in multiple states. Medicare fee cuts. Health care reform. Board certification. Harkin amendment in health care reform. Medicare fee cuts. PQRS. Represent-ing optometry in the VA system. e-Rx incentives. Mean-ingful use for electronic health records. Board autonomy in Kentucky. School Readiness Summit. Lobbying for the pediatric vision benefit in health care reform. The list goes on and on of the issues that were relayed to the membership. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think that some of these items required a change of thinking, a change of the way in which things were done and were/ are quite scary to some optometrists.

I’ve heard optometrists tell me they’re scared to touch a computer since they don’t know anything about them.  I’ve had people tell me they were afraid to serve on an association board because they were unsure of the issues. I’ve heard folks say they didn’t want to see infants because they’re scared of the age group. I’ve had optometrists admit that they changed their practice setting because they were afraid of improperly coding exams for insurance purposes. I’ve had optometrists privately tell me they didn’t want to take a test because of the fear of failure. Would it surprise you if I admitted I was once terrified of public speaking?

According to myriad psychology Web sites, overcoming fear is a way in which to attain success.

This year, I challenge each of you to do something that scares you.

You can do this for your personal life, but specifically I request it to be about optometry. 

Switch over to electronic health records. Incorporate infant exams in your practice. Open a practice of your own. Take a test. The options are endless.

Whatever you decide to do, Write It Down! Put it in a safe place so you can refer back to it. 

I guarantee you that your success will inspire you to even greater things. It’s worked for us.

Dori Carlson, O.D.
AOA president

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