Racing Cars to Overcome Burnout: San Diego’s Top Doctor Dr. David Fabi On the Issue

The burnout epidemic is a real and currently increasing crisis. Statistics prove that an estimated 40% of American and Canadian office workers are burnt-out. These rates are feared to be higher in industries like medicine and athletics. With 36% of millennials reporting that they are more stressed than each previous year, there is a need to come up with solutions that have been proven to work in alleviating burnout. Dr. David Fabi is world renown and multiple-award-winning orthopedic surgeon. He has been racing cars as a hobby and a passion, and he says that the activity helps him relax and evade burnout. Dr. Fabi exclaims, “There’s so much that I glean from racing cars! First, of course, is the exhilaration that accompanies it, but there are so many skills that have to be implemented that translate and transcend to success in life and career! It demands intense focus, learning, moving outside your comfort zone, dealing with failure and determination!”  Dr. Fabi is certainly busy seeing patients, performing surgery and speaking on stage at keynote events, but according to him, but he makes time to race as it keeps him focused, sharp, and re-energized. Dr. Fabi believes one of the sure ways to restore and improve mental well-being is to take yourself and do something that is fun to do, and naturally requires you to relax, like racing cars. While it may be difficult to imagine how one would relax in a race car, especially during a race, the activity in itself brings out of you, the ability to recover from stressful situations. Moreover, taking up racing cars or other similar hobbies carries enormous benefits. 


How Hobbies Help Prevent Burnout 

Doing something absorbing is more beneficial than sleeping or avoiding any work at all during your free hours. Dr. David Fabi recommends creating restorative experiences, also commonly known as hobbies. The idea is to forge plans to do something that you are enthusiastic and passionate about. For Dr. Fabi, this is car racing. To him, the activity creates mental imagery that demands focus. When he is racing, his mind is usually focused on the race track because, at the time, he is usually in “the moment” and doesn’t have time to be anxious or think about work-related issues. Car racing keeps Dr. Fabi sharp, a benefit he considers an asset to make use of in the operating room. By focusing on an ‘approach goal’—doing something pleasurable, rather than ‘avoidance goal’—disengaging from any and all activities, you can jog your mind, get rid of the drained state of mind, and avoid burnout. According to research, when we indulge in a pleasurable activity, even though the activity may be taxing, it is better for our mental state than relaxing. 


Delegate To Reduce Workload as You Race

As an executive, Dr. Fabi truly values and understands the essence of time.  Fabi states, “Time is something we cannot replace. So, I do my best to maximize each second, minute, and hour in my life.  I only have so much time left on this earth, so I am going to give it my all!” There are only certain hours in a day to accomplish everything he sets out to achieve, but he creates time to race. “I changed my mindset on ‘time management’.  Time can be ‘controlled’, so to speak. Just simple word choice can change perspective because I used to always say ‘I don’t have time’ but instead now say ‘I can make time’. However, just because he is out on the track doesn’t mean his work stalls. That’s where delegation comes in. From sifting through floods of emails, meetings, and projects, work-life can be debilitating in general. This is where the powers of delegation intervene. Great leaders should always determine what they are good at and passionate about, this will assist in treating said leadership role as a marathon and not a sprint. A delegation is an essential tool in the war against burnout. ​Delegation frees up one’s time and protects your energy by preventing you from doing the same monotonous thing every day. Instead, you can free up time for tasks that you are more passionate about and maybe even more challenging ones. The delegation also gives your coworkers a chance to grow by taking ownership of aspects of the work experience. It is an essential tool for great long-term leadership. 


Learning to Race Enhances Neuroplasticity for Fighting Burnout 

It’s a common misperception that our brain stops developing once we fully develop and reach adulthood. That is in fact incorrect. Scientists have discovered ​that our minds can change to meet new demands. Neuroplasticity is the ability for your brain to adapt; therefore, the more impressionable your mind is, the easier it is for you to adjust to new demands and challenges. The best way to increase your brain’s neuroplasticity is always to learn new skills. Learning forces our brains to forge new connections, which are then put to use when we are faced with challenges.

Consequently, we are better placed to find creative solutions to a host of problems. What you choose to learn doesn’t have to correlate with your professional career. Dr. David Fabi races cars and has learned about the industry in grave detail despite being a surgeon by profession. Dr. Fabi exclaims, “One of my dreams is to become a professional racecar driver.  Just like orthopedic surgery, racing is something I can’t stop thinking about! And I am not gonna disrespect that passion. Like most of the important pursuits in life, I am going all in! And like always, I’m coming in hot, I’m coming in fast, and I’m coming in furious!”