Work-Life Choices – a physician coach reframes our quest for balance

Work life balance is a very hot subject. Recently I Googled the topic and up popped 189,000,000 entries! When I first checked several years ago, there were 30,000,000 entries. In spite of having 159,000,000 more explanations,  we’re not any closer to finding that sense of nirvana we’re all looking for.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.55.15 AMUnfortunately, with nearly half of all physicians reporting some degree of burnout, the need for us to achieve better balance in our lives is becoming increasingly important.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, offered a wise perspective on our dilemma.  He suggested that there is no such thing as “work life balance.”  There are “work life choices, and each choice has consequences.”

For many years, I thought I could do it all.  Before the question, “Who would like to…?” was finished, my hand would be up in the air to volunteer.  I had a sort of magical thinking, that I could be in two places at once and do everything that interested me. The result was sleep deprivation and a frantic sense to my life, neither of which were enjoyable.  I’ve learned that Mr. Welch is right – each choice has consequences.  Do I attend this meeting and miss a neighborhood get together?  Do I stay up late to finish a project even if it means I’ll be less productive the following day? Nowadays, when I’m asked to work on a project or attend a function, I immediately look at my calendar.  I check the actual date, and also the weeks leading up to it.  Do I really have time?  When will I fit in the preparation?  Though far from perfect, I’m much more selective and realistic about what is not just possible, but what is a good choice for me and for those I care about.

In October, we began a small house remodel.  I’ve since learned that “small remodel” is an oxymoron.  We quickly ran into unexpected issues with our 70 year old home (this should not have been such a surprise, as just about anything that’s  70 years old is bound to be breaking down in some ways) and things escalated pretty quickly.  Each week is full of numerous choices, most of which I’m pretty ill-prepared to make.  So I’ve learned to ask more questions.  If we do this, what will happen to that?  If we spend more money on that, where must be spend less?

What choices are in front of you right now?  What do you need to know to make the best choice for you and those you care about?  Using your creativity, what other options are possible that might be an even better choice for you?

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About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
This entry was posted in Doctor Coach, physician burnout, physician coach, physician coaching, physician fulfillment, physician work life balance, work life balance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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