By Jean Miner
As many before me have asked, is there such a thing as balance when it comes to our careers and life outside the hospital? Maybe not, but we can realistically reach an equilibrium when we prioritize and allot time for all our responsibilities. Every time we step into the operating room we multitask, lead, and organize. Utilizing these same skills we have honed over time will aid us in our endeavor to reach stability between our career, family, friends, health, and most importantly our “self”.
ENLIST others to join you in your journey for equilibrium. As health care providers, we often neglect our own healthy sleep, diet, fitness, and preventive measures. Regarding your path to getting healthy – find a family member, friend, or colleague who has similar or even higher goals than you to help you design a plan or challenge. Set a realistic goal that fits into your timeline. Sign up for a race; any distance is better than none. Consider planning one around a weekend getaway or as a relay with family or friends. Get a Fitbit or similar device/app and challenge long lost friends and distant relatives across the country to join you for a weekly challenge.
For our personal lives, SCHEDULE time with significant others, family, and friends. At work we stay on track with planned surgeries, call schedules, and regular mandatory meetings. In order to be successful away from the hospital employ these same tactics. Have regular “date nights” with those important to you. Block off time to attend school functions, quick lunches with old friends, or just run errands.
Some of the best advice I have been given and heard from many others on this same topic is; DELEGATE the tasks you can’t make time for or those at which you are not efficient. For example, if you love to cook but can never make it to the grocery, consider grocery delivery or using a service that creates the recipes and delivers the ingredients. For those of us who hate to clean, hire a maid to come biweekly to take care of the essentials. Love your pet but feel guilty about leaving them in the house all day? Find a dog walker or a doggy day care to use a few times a week. In today’s connected world, one can find service providers to accommodate most any need.
A major complaint I often hear from colleagues is not having time for ourselves and always feeling pulled in multiple directions. The first step is to not overextend yourself- this was well covered in the December newsletter discussing “Saying Yes and No”. When we have too much on our plates, the smallest piece of the pie ends up being served to us. Often we need to TAKE TIME to do a little self-reflection to make key decisions. In order to attain that sense of self we need to take time to do the things that keep us centered. For some, it may be a few minutes to meditate or pray each morning, others may do yoga or curl up with a good book before bed. Gardening, cooking, knitting, or listening to music helps others. Whatever your escape is, make time for it in your daily or weekly routine.
Once you have reached a semblance of balance, the next step is investing the time and effort to MAINTAIN your relationships and health. Persist with your exercise regimen even after reaching your goal by setting a new one. Continue your personal life schedule until it has become routine and expected. Plan your annual exam and mammograms for the same time each year and make sure no one encroaches on that time. Just like the Board of Surgery has mandated the MOC (Maintenance of certification), we must establish a MOS (Maintenance of Self) to reach our desired equilibrium.
Jean Miner is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and a Surgical Attending with Florida Hospital’s General Surgery Residency. She is finishing up a Masters in Medical Education Leadership at the University of New England. Her work life is in equilibrium with her personal life as a mother of three girls who loves spending time with her husband and family traveling the country and world. In her “spare time” she loves to cook, be outdoors and read as many books as she can.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons