Nurture relationships. Having positive, meaningful relationships can bring happiness. People who have positive relationships are less likely to be stressed and more likely to lead joy filled lives. Staying close to loved ones for me is an instant positive emotion booster.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lisa Herbert, Family Physician, Certified Personal and Executive Coach, and CEO and Founder of Just the Right Balance, LLC. Her company offers coaching, consulting, and workshops using the principles of Positive Psychology to help women physicians bring about positive change and achieve optimal wellbeing as they pursue their career goals and balance their family life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a young girl, I lost my grandfather to a massive heart attack. In that moment I felt helpless, especially considering that there was no one around that could provide him with assistance. It was then that I knew I wanted to become a doctor. My drive was to help others like my grandfather who didn’t have access to healthcare. I chose to practice family medicine because it embodied what it meant to not only take care of an individual but also a community. After 23 years of practicing as a Family Physician, I struggled with balancing work and family while navigating the changing healthcare environment. I was putting too much pressure on myself to be the best mom, best wife and best physician. I realized that I was not making time for the things that mattered most to me: feeding my spirit, strengthening my relationships, rediscovering my passions, and finding new outlets for my work. After practicing for many years, I had a burning desire to use my gifts and talents in other ways outside of the walls of medicine.
To cope with my own struggles, I started working with a life coach. I was then able to visualize what I wanted. I also developed a self-care program to reclaim my time, renew my energy and recharge. At the end of the coaching program, I knew that I could use my story to help other women physicians live fulfilling lives. So that’s what I did. I pursued a career as a certified Personal and Executive Coach. I established Just The Right Balance, a company whose mission is to help my clients identify their strengths, prioritize self-care to achieve balance, effectively communicate their needs, and gain clarity in their vision and goals through coaching, speaking engagements and training workshops.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
To live “on purpose” means to live my life in balance. A balanced life is one where I have a consistent spiritual practice, where I take time for my personal well-being, and where I also have quality time with family and friends. Living in balance allows me to have a passion for life and to be my best, not only for myself but also for my loved ones and those I serve. Living on purpose also means living out my “why”. My “why” is that special reason why I’m here on earth. It’s the story that wakes me up in the morning. It’s the thing that will push me even in the face of challenges or adversity. It’s what moves me and is that drive within that doesn’t require a nudge or push. It’s based on my values, my own personal story and my experiences.
You can achieve living “on purpose” by finding out what drives you. Your motivators can be found in your work or in other areas of life such as your responsibilities to your loved ones or your community. To live on purpose is to do what fills your heart with passion. What message do you want to deliver, what work do you want to commit to, and what legacy do you want to leave on the world. To start on the path of living on purpose, take time to reflect on your values, what is important to you, and what you enjoy. Create your own story of what living “on purpose” looks like for you; Take time each day to reflect on what you are grateful for, make self-care your foremost task for balanced living, give back and help others to develop their own accomplishments and at the end of the day, enjoy the journey and embrace your successes and accomplishments and those of your loved ones.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
The pain of feeling like I was not connecting with my daughter is when I realized I was missing my life’s purpose. She pointed out that I was distant, not attentive, and stressing over the little things. My daughter and I have a close relationship, so her realization that I was disconnecting caused me to have mixed emotions: guilt for not making more time to be present, sadness that I had caused her to feel like I was not attentive, and anger for not realizing what was happening. In that moment I became aware that I was not making time for the things that mattered most to me, for the things that I loved to do such as reading, listening to music, meditating, and spending time with family and friends. I no longer wanted to sacrifice my family for a demanding work schedule. I also no longer wanted to deprive myself of self-care. I was not living the life I wanted — one of peace, bliss, contentment and fulfillment.
I thought if I worked harder and tried to be everything to everyone, I would be fulfilled; but instead of living on purpose, I was lacking balance in my life. I took the first steps to creating work-life balance by first deciding what a balanced life looked like for me. Then, I assessed each area of my life to determine my level of satisfaction and used that as an action plan to finding my life’s purpose.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
For the majority of the United States population, I feel that happiness is defined as an emotion that you have based on how successful you are or how many material things you acquire. We are a country that increasingly defines success based on material possessions and financial status. True happiness however has little to do with how successful you are in the monetary or material sense. In fact, there are people who we would consider very successful that are not happy, proving that is takes more than wealth to achieve this state of well-being. Our westernized values and perspectives have led to our distorted views regarding happiness.
Another myth we have about happiness is that it requires you to feel good all the time. From a logical standpoint, we know that this is not true. We will always face challenges in life and it’s impossible to be in a constant state of happiness. Instead, we should view happiness as a state of well-being where life has meaning and is satisfying. During my coaching training, I learned about psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky and her self-help book, The How of Happiness. Her book contains the following research findings: 40% of happiness is within our control, 50% is determined by “set points” (genetics) and 10% by circumstances. So, if 40% is within our control, we have the power to change our current situation and create the happy environment that we want. To maintain happiness, we need to practice habits that lead to a fulfilled, satisfying life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Today, women make up approximately 50% of their medical school class, yet only on average 15% of women hold healthcare leadership positions. In addition, we are losing physicians to burnout which makes it even more difficult to have adequate representation of women in these roles. Women in leadership positions in the healthcare landscape help make decisions about how medical care is delivered to women, children and our communities. Without females in these positions, we are not only lacking the knowledge and experience that women bring to the table, but we are also lacking adequate representation for the very population that we are serving. When women physicians are put in a position to lead and care for others, communities heal.
Just The Right Balance provides support to women physicians, who are in high stressed careers, stand firm in their beliefs so they can be clear about their goals, advocate for balance in their work and family life, and advance as leaders. I have helped clients uncover their blind spots and find their voice, so they can negotiate better work environments, confidently share their ideas in the workplace and get clarity about their roles and expectations. I help women leaders define what balance looks like for them, so they can carve out time for what’s important which allows them to find a clearer path to success. When women leaders are supported, they will change the landscape of healthcare.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. Positive affirmations
Positive words can improve your mood, increase your self-confidence, and help you get through a tough day. I develop a habit of feeding positive words or statements to myself by posting them in my office space where I can see them daily, and I also listen to affirmations to help get my mindset in a positive space.
2. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to continuously remind me of all that I should be thankful for. It has been shown to lower stress, improve sleep, and boost your mood. Taking time each day to reflect on what I am grateful for puts life’s challenges in perspective. I write down or speak 3–5 things that I am grateful for daily.
3. Put self-care first
I have learned that not taking time to recharge can lead to burnout and strained relationships. Prioritizing time for myself is important for balanced living and I make sure to plan it regularly. Each day I have 3 small habits that allow me recharge. It is usually, practicing gratitude, meditation for 5–10 minutes and 30 minutes of physical activity. I also make self-care a priority by eating healthy and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
4. Live life to the fullest
It has been shown that people who choose to live in the present and not dwell in the past lead happier lives. To remain optimistic, I take one day at a time and try not to stress over the future and what I cannot possibly foresee or have control over. It’s means enjoying the moment, being present and appreciating the little things in life.
5. Spiritual Practice
Spiritual beliefs and practices are how we connect to others and our interpretations regarding the meaning of life. It helps us to create positive feelings and a sense of inner peace. I feed my soul consistently through prayer, silent reflection, listening to an inspirational podcast or reading a book.
6. Nurture my relationships
Having positive, meaningful relationships can bring happiness. People who have positive relationships are less likely to be stressed and more likely to lead joy filled lives. Staying close to loved ones for me is an instant positive emotion booster.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
My favorite books-Start With Why by Simon Sinek, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown
My favorite podcasts- Oprah’s Super Soul, Rick Warren’s Daily Hope
I also love the meditation app Insight Timer and Iyanla Vanzant’s Awakenings Daily Spiritual Coaching app.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” Jill Bolte Taylor
It tells the truth about our daily lives. Things are not always blissful and harmonious, but we can create that quiet space, that peaceful state of mind where we can still have a ravenous thirst for life. We can find time to quiet our minds and be still amidst the challenges we face. For me to manage the struggles of a very busy career and the responsibilities of raising a family, I had to learn how to tap into that blissful mindset to mitigate my high achieving personality. I learned to incorporate meditation, journaling and exercise into my day to get back to that blissful state. It became very important to make self-care a priority, to make it nonnegotiable and consistent.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on a podcast for 2019 for women in healthcare leadership positions and those who aspire to advance to a leadership position. This podcast will allow me to reach a larger audience and continue to encourage, inspire and educate women to lead with confidence, take care of themselves as they advance in their careers and learn from seasoned professionals who can provide insight into what it takes to be an effective leader without sacrificing their values and beliefs. It is a platform that is easily accessible at any time and great for busy professional women on the go.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement it would be a Women’s Healthcare Movement where women would join forces to lead a revolution in healthcare where we address the issues that face our families, communities and our professions. Issues such as affordable and safe access to healthcare, access to affordable healthy food options and exercise facilities in all communities, access to training programs for woman looking for healthcare leadership positions and mentor programs to encourage the next generation of women healthcare leaders.
Thank you so much for joining us!