“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams: live the life you imagined.” Henry Thoreau
Dr.Sheila Nazarian is at the top of her game. She is one of the best and most well-respected plastic surgeons in the US and now has her very own series on Netflix. She is happily married to a Neurosurgeon and is a mother of three.
Life throws a lot of curveballs and Dr.Nazarian has had more than her fair share.
She was born and grew up in Iran at the time of the 1979 Revolution when Anti-Western sentiment was at its core. A Jewish family, they were forced to escape to the United States.
Her parents had very high expectations for their daughter academically. She was accepted by prestigious Harvard-Westlake for Middle and High School, where she honed her academic and artistic skills in extremely competitive surroundings.
Sadly, her mother died of breast cancer when she was 16 years old.
These experiences had a profound impact on Dr.Nazarian’s outlook on life and have been pivotal to her motivation to make the life she’s always wanted.
Here we share her advice for living the life you want.
Have a Goal
“I had a realistic image in my head of what I could achieve and how I wanted to live.”
The key word here is realistic. We all dream of that massive beach house with the infinity pool flowing into the ocean, the perfect partner, the adorable perfectly-behaved children, the 6-digit figure in our bank account or the fulfilling and rewarding job which brings prestige. Perhaps you want to be famous and walk the red carpet.
Reality-check: there is a difference between a dream and a goal.
To set an achievable objective you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and be honest about how far they can take you. Then you need to own your strengths.
“I’m high-functioning. I have a very high IQ. I’m smart and I own this fact. I know what women want. I know my customers. I know my goals. This isn’t bragging. It’s true. How can people know if you can help them if you don’t say what you’re good at?”
In her youth, like many of us, Dr. Nazarian was always seeking the approval of those around her. This often meant doing things that weren’t suited to her strengths, or worse, stopping herself from doing the best she could in order to fit in with her classmates. When she came of age she quickly changed course and zoned in on what she was good at, even if it meant losing popularity.
Achieving your goals means that you won’t let others’ opinions of you get in your way or discourage you. It isn’t important what others think or say about you. What counts is that you express your opinions clearly regardless of who is in the room; be it a director or janitor.
“Why should you care about what other people think about you when they’d rather see you fail than succeed?”
She believes that the ‘core of people’ that matter are those you see around the Thanksgiving table. They are likely to be the only people who want to see you succeed and that’s why their opinions are important and should be listened to. You can ignore everyone else for the most part.
Another important point she knows to be absolutely essential in getting to where you want to be is time-management.
“Life is really short: you don’t know how much time you have.”
Dr.Nazarian doesn’t waste time. Her routine is regimental. From brushing her teeth while doing squats to opening the car window before she arrives at the drive-thru counter so she doesn’t need to stop; it all adds up to creating more time for her work and her family.
It’s no mean feat to get through medical training fellowships and obtain a master’s degree in medical management while also being a mother of three.
“By being organized and having good time-management, I can do four days’ worth of work in one day.”
She recommends making a list of your daily routine activities and following it. (Hers is laminated and stuck on her window). By having this list you will remind yourself of what you need to do, as well as put off that urge to procrastinate. We all need to have a break and relax, so add that to the list too. The point is to be organized and prepared for the day.
“I’m 100% focused on the thing I’m doing until I’m ready to move on to the next one.”
It’s hard to do anything to the best of your ability if you’re not into it completely. Whatever you have assigned on your daily ‘to-do’ list needs its own time and attention to be done properly. You can’t be thinking about what has come before or is coming up next. Focus on the thing you are doing. This way you won’t make mistakes or have to do things twice.
Invest in Yourself
Do you need to work out what you are or could be good at? Go to a career counselor. Maybe your mind wanders when you’re trying to focus? Look into mindfulness and concentration strategies. Perhaps you’re struggling with stress-management or your work/life balance? See a consultant.
“We’ve all got enough shoes and belts. Don’t waste your money getting something you’ll only use a couple of times. Invest it on yourself.”
Get Expert Advice
Trained and qualified professionals are there for a reason and know what they are doing. These days, there are so many social media ‘influencers’ but many of them are not properly qualified. When it comes to serious life decisions, these are not the people you want to get your answers from. Go to an expert.
Lastly, Dr. Nazarian reminds us:
“It is your core values that define you… Who am I if I’m not a surgeon? Who am I if I’m not a doctor?”
For many people, their job defines them. It shouldn’t be this way. As COVID-19 lockdown has shown us, no longer working normally and spending a lot more time at home has given us a lot more time to focus on the real us.
Your job is just a part of your personality, as are your other roles: mother, sister, daughter, runner, writer and so on. These all need to be in balance and level so that one doesn’t dominate and take over your personality – and define who you are.
It was an absolute pleasure to speak with and listen to Dr. Sheila Nazarian. All of us here at Women’s Health Conversations wish to congratulate Dr.Nazarian on her success as well as thank her for taking the time to share her insights with Dr. Vonda Wright on the Smart Savvy Speaker Series – which you can watch here – and we are looking forward to watching her series “Skin Decision: Before and After” on Netflix.
Dr. Sheila Nazarian is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with a private practice in Beverly Hills. She has a Masters in Medical Management degree from the Marshall School of Business at USC. She also serves as Assistant Professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Southern California. She is the founder of Nazarian Plastic Surgery, Spa26, The Skin Spot e-commerce site, and the Nazarian Institute where she brings thought leaders to teach business owners in the luxury space to Think BIG – Branding, Innovation, Growth. She is married to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Fardad Mobin, and has three children.