The 14 habits of successful Ophthalmology Times readers

Use these tips from the self-help pros!

The “self-help” industry in the United States offers its services to people who wish to improve themselves or some aspects of their lives. Americans spend an estimated $10 billion annually on books and seminars offered by the gurus in this field. Fortunately, for us ophthalmologists, the incredibly helpful issue of Ophthalmology Times that arrives in our mailbox or e-mail every two weeks is completely free. One alert Ophthalmology Times reader recently shared with me a podcast addressing “The Top Habits of Highly Successful People.”

The speakers are not physicians and have an emphasis on financial success; they summarize the findings of some famous self-help authors and speakers. I thought many of the points made are relevant to ophthalmologists. Some examples include that golf-pro Tiger Woods always wears red shirts on Sundays whereas a baseball player wears the same unwashed lucky T-shirt every day for a week. (Editor’s note: Cool as this may seem, I am not prepared to endorse this second habit for my fellow ophthalmologists looking to grow their practices.)

Try these habits out for size

Other habits that I do commend for your consideration include:

  • Wake up early (50% of self-made millionaires get out of bed at least 3 hours before their workday starts).

  • Maintain a regular exercise schedule to relieve stress, maintain health, feel better all day (the average millionaire exercises about 6 hours per week compared with 2.5 hours for the average American).

  • Have some quiet time in the morning for reflection/meditation/prayer/yoga/focused thinking to prepare for the day.

  • Kiss one or more loved ones before heading off to the salt mines (i.e., the office).

  • Pay credit card bills the same day every month (never forget and pay ridiculous credit card interest rates).

  • Work hard and smart (the average millionaire works 38 hours per week compared with 32 hours for the average American).

  • Read or listen to books for pleasure and knowledge (millionaires average 5.5 hours per week versus 2 hours for the average American).

  • Stop wasting time with Facebook, etc. (the average millionaire spends 2.5 hours per week on social media compared with 14 hours for the average American).

  • Spend time with family (8.5 hours for millionaires versus 3.6 hours for the average American).

  • Don’t skimp on sleep (the average millionaire sleeps about 7.5 hours per night).

  • Begin tasks with the end in mind (we should all have strategic plans and goals for our practices/careers).

  • Provide a service to society (What could be a better service than helping people see?).

  • Spend time with people who inspire you (“you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with”).

  • Make it a priority to read your Chief Medical Editor’s column in Ophthalmology Times every 14 days.

Okay, none of these so-called gurus mentioned that last one, so I added it. But I do think that most of the ophthalmologists I admire check off many-if not most-of the above boxes.


Peter J. McDonnell, MD
E:; P: 443/287-1511
Dr. McDonnell is the director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.