How do you make time for friends, family, and dating while getting your career off the ground?
Can you write about balancing work with having a life? How do you make time for friends, family, and dating while getting your career off the ground?
Johnny Y., Age 26*
*Names and identifying details changed to maintain confidentiality
Wow - what a deceptively short question! Balancing work and life is definitely a hot topic especially as our lives become busier and busier.
Sigmund Freud wrote about the importance of balancing work, love and play. Work means doing something productive and fulfilling, love means family, friends and other important relationships, play means having activities or hobbies that we enjoy. When there is a huge disparity in any of these areas we are more prone to depression or anxiety. Balancing these areas is more than just a hot topic, it is necessary for our mental health.
Here are a few tips in maintaining balance in these three important areas:
1) The goal is not to maintain perfect balance, the goal is to maintain mental flexibility so that in times where one area must take the forefront, you are able to manage the stress that goes along with it.
2) Time management is key: it's unrealistic to think that your schedule will always be consistent, however it is in your hands to make sure that there's some reflection of work, love and play at all times. For example, setting aside time to have dinner, coffee, or even a 10 minute phone call with a friend when you're feeling particularly overwhelmed by work.
3) Prioritize: What are your personal and professional goals? Do you want to be the professional whose life is his/her job? What do you ideally envision your life looking like, within the realities of your chosen profession? Are you making time to develop your personal goals while working on your professional goals? There are plenty of people who get married during medical school so it's not an anomaly to be focusing on your personal and professional goals at the same time.
4) Reality Check: It's easy to get overwhelmed by professional or personal demands at certain periods of your life. Take a step back and do a reality check: Is this feeling of imbalance something that will naturally resolve itself overtime? For example, are you stressed because you're studying for the Bar Exam? Time limited periods of stress like studying for an exam, being in a graduate program, preparing for a major conference, are made easier if you look at it like running a marathon. Pace yourself, take small breaks if needed, and keep in mind that the end is in sight.