A few weeks back I was interviewed on the topic of work-life balance for physicians. Here is the 3rd question I was asked and my response.
How do you define work-life balance?
I must admit, I personally don’t like the term work-life balance since it not only separates work from life but it also looks at it from a time equilibrium perspective. I’d rather prefer the term life balance or work-life integration
Work-life integration basically comes down to being fulfilled and successful in personal life and at work.
Many times we look at balance of work and personal life only from a time perspective. But that is how we can set ourselves up for disappointment.
Instead I always say that “work-life balance” (even though I don’t like this term too much) should have 3 characteristics:
Balance is personal – everyone has a different perspective of what life is supposed to look like. Some physicians want to make their profession their life and that is what makes them happy. And others like to have more variety, have a big family, make time for hobbies and practice medicine that supports this lifestyle.
Balance is dynamic. 1. When you are 30 and have a young family, the priorities and how you spend your time is different than when you are 50 or when you are single. 2. Not every day can be completely balanced; some days you work long hours and focus all your time and efforts on a work project and other days you just let work be and focus on family and personal time. But when you look at life with a wider lens, there is balance, optimal performance, and fulfillment.
Balance is a mindset that you chose moment by moment. Just like there is a saying “ you can’t have a happy ending on an unhappy journey”, I believe you cannot have a balanced life with an unbalanced mindset.