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Physician Work-life Balance Means Following Your Heart

Physician Work-life Balance Means Following Your Heart

It’s easy to be lazy, I am discovering. Not actually lazy as in slothful but relaxed, calm, and quiet. In 2013, I’ve decided to let things go that occupy too much time and energy for not enough return on my investment. I’m going to stop my women’s soccer league, grateful that my ACLs are still intact. I resigned from an editorial position which was professionally fulfilling and, some weeks, took all of my spare time. I’m giving up leadership of my writers’ group. Maybe I’ll attend now and then if I really feel like it.

I am a doer. I don’t like to sit still and it’s very easy for me to stay at work too late working on just one more thing. I like to fill my time and my to-do list. Therefore, I’m surprised at myself. I’ve wanted to sever these ties for a bit of time, but have been hesitant to do so for myriad reasons. Now that I’ve started to divest myself of commitments, I find it increasingly easy to pick up a book and an afghan and get cozy on my couch for hours at a time (if the kids are in bed) or minutes at a time (if the kids are awake).

Professionally, I decided that 2013 will be my last year delivering babies. It’s sad to give up what has been a very rewarding and fulfilling part of my clinical practice. However, many of my call partners are giving it up. The practice of obstetrics has changed significantly, making it increasingly difficult to practice OB as a family physician. And, it’s harder to recover from an all-nighter. I suspected I wouldn’t deliver babies forever, and now is just the right time.

These changes have allowed me to breathe, to mentally stretch, and relax. For the first time in a long time, I feel a little bit of that margin I know I’m supposed to have in my life. And, I’ve been good (so far — it is only the first week in January) about not trying to fill my time up with other things.

When I do something like resign my editorial position, I realize immediately that as hard of a decision it is, it is the right one. It came after months of intellectualizing why I should keep doing it, counting all the benefits, and chiding myself for not wanting to continue. The undercurrent, though, was that it wasn’t good for me anymore. The balance was off. I sacrificed time that I didn’t want to give up. My heart knew the right answer before I made it – long before I settled on it.

It was the same thing with soccer. A lot of the women I started playing with are no longer on the team — some because of injuries that I don’t want to experience. It’s a younger and different group of women I play with. I can’t really relate to them as well.  I’ve gone from discussing the kids’ programs at the YMCA to hearing about how difficult it can be to play soccer with a hangover. Again a decision I made with my head longer after my heart told me what to do. 

 
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