What Calvin Can Teach Physicians about Work-Life Balance

January 3, 2012
Jennifer Frank, MD

2011 was a good year, a year where I set and reached numerous goals. And, I guess I did it all without any formal resolutions to speak of.

I imagine a large number of you out there are Calvin and Hobbes fans. You probably remember the cartoon from years ago in which Hobbes asks Calvin if he made a New Year’s resolution. Calvin responds “Heck no, I’m fine just the way I am. Why should I change?” We all giggle at the egomaniacal Calvin and his overly healthy self-image. However, for all those overachieving perfectionists out there like me, we could probably benefit from a small dose of Calvin’s philosophy on life.

At the beginning of each new year, I review my list of goals from the year before. This year, as I sat down with my notebook, I made a startling discovery. I either forgot or neglected to come up with any type of list for 2011. As I was in the middle of a job change, it’s possible that I was just too busy to construct one. It’s equally possible that I carefully wrote my ideas down but forgot where I stashed them. My filing system is extremely robust and organize - and variable. Today, it may make perfect sense for me to file New Year’s resolutions under “R” for resolution while tomorrow, I may file in under “N” for New Year’s. You get the idea.

At any rate, I have to say that 2011 was, in many respects, a banner year for me. I made a scary job change that worked out marvelously well. I exercised every single week, usually more than once. I ate more salads, but not less chocolate. I finished a novel, surprising myself most of all. I started a writer’s group and we actually have over 30 members one year into it. I took a vacation alone with my husband. It was a good year, a year where I set and reached numerous goals. And, I guess I did it all without any formal resolutions to speak of.

Now it wasn’t a perfect year. I’m still not done with holiday cards. My attempts to organize the toy room fell flat as we still have about 50,000 more toys than we need. I still made an amazing number of impulse buys, about 50 percent of which ended up being regrettable. I could’ve eaten less and exercised more. I didn’t do the triathlon this year. I still haven’t learned calligraphy. I’m more than a year behind on my scrapbooking.

I did write down 10 goals for this year, but I included a new one. Learn to be happy with me just the way I am - my characteristics, world view, appearance, likes, and dislikes. No more trying to change me. I’m going to work on being fine with just the way I am. I’m still going to try to get my book published and finish the year with less material possessions than I started with and all those types of things. But, I’m going to start with the assumption that I’m pretty okay already. Calvin would be proud.

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