I set the term “physician work-life balance” in Google alerts. Many alerts include job opening announcements, where work-life balance is used as one of the perks for the new position.
Recently I read, “We are offering you a tremendous work-life balance both professionally and personally.” Another one said, “We guarantee our physicians work-life balance.” Wow! When I read these job descriptions I always ask myself, “And how exactly do they do this? Especially when they ‘guarantee” work-life balance?”
Sure, organizations can put systems in place such as a decent call schedule, vacation days, child care, etc., to support their physicians and to make certain routines less stressful. However, at the end of the day no organization can guarantee you work-life balance; it is a gift that only you can give yourself.
Work-life balance is not a static way of being where work and personal life are always in perfect harmony with dedicated hours. Instead it is a way of being, where you are satisfied with your professional and personal life. It is:
- Being at peace with your career and your personal life while still striving for advancements and promotions
- Being content in all relationships
- Honoring and living your priorities so that at the end of your day / week / month / year, you feel fulfilled
With that said, work-life balance doesn’t necessarily have to do with the number of work hours but with knowing what is important to you in your life and designing your life so that you are making time for the things that matter to you.
I always tell my clients, “Your practice is a greedy entity. If you offered it 25 hours of your time a day, your practice would take it. Your career is part of your life; it should not be your life. Know what you want to get out of life and build your career around it.”
So when you look for a new position, don’t get swayed by job descriptions that promise work-life balance, and don’t neglect the job descriptions that don’t include work-life balance. Instead remind yourself that you are in charge of your balance and no one else.
If you don’t want to change jobs but you lack work-life balance, keep in mind that restoring it starts with you.