When you first decided to become a doctor, it may have felt like a calling, but a medical career can soon overtake your entire life, consume every minute of your day, use up all your energy, stretch your patience to the limit, demand your constant attention, and start taking a toll on your relationships.
Before you know it, you're staring burnout in the face. The career that was going to afford you a fulfilling life has quickly become the thing that consumes it.
But, all is not lost. Achieving that elusive work-life balance in your medical career is not impossible. In fact, it could be as easy as 1-2-3. Here are three steps that are vital to restoring a work-life balance:
Step One: You Come First
Your instincts as a doctor may tell you that your patients come first, but if you don't put yourself first from time to time, you're on a one-way road to burnout. The key to work-life balance is saying yes to the things that bring you joy outside of medicine.
- Reflect on what you want from life other than a successful career
- Make a bucket list of the things that are really important to you
- Refer to your list from time to time and tick an item off when you can
Your list could include spending time with your family, teaching your daughter to ride a bike, working out to keep in shape, taking a vacation to Paris, or going on a weekly date with your spouse.
Step Two: A Calendar Set in Stone
Non-work activities are often left to simmer on the backburner when there is no fixed date to go through with them. Write in your priorities and goals on a calendar and imagine they are set in stone. An empty schedule can quickly fill up with work-related stuff, so claim your ground a few months in advance. Once a non-work activity is blocked off on your calendar, your family will hold you to it.
Step Three: The Power of No
Saying yes to a work-life balance means saying no to some work-related activities. Learning to say no with a smile can help you defend your existing commitments on your calendar of priorities. The charts may have to wait, a colleague requesting some extra call time may have to be turned down, but your dinner date, your yoga class, and your trip to the Far East cannot because you set time aside for them and booked in advance.
Think of your life outside of medicine and the activities that bring you joy as big rocks. Make these rocks the foundation of your life. By putting them first, you can ensure a strong and stable work-life balance.