Hey everyone, it’s Medicine Mondays again. This is just kind of a “musings” type of post where I talk about Work Life Balance.
Work Life Balance?
Yea. I see this string of words everywhere lately, especially in reference to physicians.
This is very difficult, and there is likely some interplay between this and the already complex, multifactorial Physician Burnout topic. However, that interplay is outside the scope of this blog post, and would likely require a series of posts to really talk about.
Today I’m going to narrow in on just the idea of “Work Life Balance”. This is the idea that you can find a harmonius balance between work and life and “have it all”. There are rainbows and unicorns and the birds are singing… everything would be great if you could just find this balance. For some this may be possible, and for those who are selling this dream of work life balance maybe they have actually achieved it. However, I’m not so optimistic.
In my realist (slightly pessmistic?) view — You can’t have it all – all the time.
In general the more you have, the more you want. The true key to Work Life Balance is the elephant in the room — Lifestyle.
For some people they can find true work life balance without sacrificing anything else. They are able to manage their time better, or be more efficient, or whatever in order to get 100% out of their day and achieve this true zen master balance, like capybaras:
I am not one of those people. In fact, I think most people are not.
The truth of the matter is that for most physicians achieving your ideal work life balance will require tweaking your lifestyle. If you want to be able to work 8-6 pm full-time and still make it to all your kid’s soccer games on Saturday and piano recitals on Sundays, then you have to find a job without call. In general a job that doesn’t require call will pay less, or you will have to live in a less desirable area in order to keep the same pay.
Or if you want to be able to go surfing every morning, then you either need to find a job that will let you work only evenings, or one that will let you work part-time.
Do you see the commonality here?
How much can you tweak your lifestyle in order to find your ideal work life balance?
For me, I work evenings and I work every other weekend. For many people, this is not ideal. However, it does give me flexibility during the week a few times a month to get other things done. Will I miss stuff on weekdays and weekends sometimes? Yes. However, for me, I think I can still attend the majority of special events my children will have in the mornings. Although not “normal”, this work schedule works for me.
For my wife, she works a normal full-time job. She also does a week of pager call every 6 weeks or so. In general she has most weekends off. However, because our inlaws (and me) can help with the kids in the mornings, she is usually able to go in early and leave slightly earlier a few days a week. This allows her to take my daughter to piano lessons and hula — which is very important to her. In terms of work life balance, I’m sure she would much prefer to be home with the kids earlier on the weekdays. Her ideal work life balance would probably be something like going in early and leaving by 3pm or so everyday. Unfortunately, that is not possible (currently), but may be possible someday. However, this would likely require a significant decrease in salary. That’s an option to consider a little farther down the road once we get rid of our student loans.
Work Life Balance is hard, but I think a lot of it has to do with choosing your priorities. You can’t have it all – all the time… but you probably can have most things most of the time. You just need to decide how to tweak your lifestyle to fulfill your work life balance goals.
Of course, the money has to come from somewhere… taking a pay cut for a better job with more time off is not “losing money”. Instead, consider it as “buying time”.
Life is Short. Be Happy.
Work Life Balance is hard.
You probably can’t have it all – all the time.
However, you probably can have most things most of the time.
Know your priorities.
Taking a pay cut for a better job with more time off is not “losing money”. Instead, consider it as “buying time”.
Life is Short. Be Happy.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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