The 14 habits of successful Ophthalmology Times readers

February 21, 2019
Peter J. McDonnell, MD

He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

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.