How do you maintain balance in your professional life? That is the million-dollar question. The most important thing to understand and accept, key word being accept, is that balance does not mean everything is always being handled equally or really at any one time. This acceptance was eye opening for me in my journey to achieve and maintain professional balance during my last 10 years of practicing medicine and being a wife, mom, friend, and entrepreneur.
Having balance means that things may have to shift from position to another over a matter of time. It does not indicate you aren’t doing a good job or can’t handle your responsibilities despite what you see others seeming to be able to handle. What you see in the outward display of someone else is not always the reality of how he/she is really handling things. Delegate duties. You’re not in this alone. There are others who want to help you but may not know how or don’t feel like they are needed. The growth of those around you will allow you to accomplish more than you could ever imagine. Embrace and appreciate the support of your significant other, family, and friends.
Listen to the advice that you give others. You are in the position you are in because you give good advice. You advise patients how to take care of their health. You advise admin on what things you need to better care for your patients. You advise nurses how to improve workflow. If you didn’t give good advice, no one would keep asking you for your input on anything right? So know that you really should listen to what you tell others to do because you really give great advice! I often give coworkers and friends advice about self care. One suggestion I gave for managing time was being mindful that the to do list will never end so make a stopping point and actually stop. Determine a few things that are a must to accomplish a 1-2 that are optional. I found it hard to do this myself but mental exhaustion that I experienced before doing this was so much better after I actually did it regularly.
Practice what you preach because you are not exempt from being tired or burned out and you give great advice that helps people! There of course will be times that you have to keep going because the deadline must be met and there’s always going to be a next project but don’t lose sight of yourself and what you need to rejuvenate. The light inside of you needs protection. Even reading and contemplating how to respond to an extra email, text, or voicemail though may seem simple or may be one additional item to scratch off the list, it can drain you. It can take you from your happy place that you just had to frustration or from your peaceful zone to the wheels turning and you can’t shut off your thought process. Now, that bright smile is blank or frowned. Choose a time to not check email. Don’t feel obligated to respond to the text or voicemail immediately. Think about it, how long did it take that person to respond to you or initiate discussion on the matter? Be comfortable in setting and enforcing boundaries. If you resigned or you died, what would happen? They’d figure it out and the work would continue. So, accept that you are human. Have a support person or team. Be careful of the timing of starting something new. Strategically use your time with complementary activities. It’s ok to say no. Give yourself some credit. Reflect on the significant work you’re already doing. Shorten and prioritize your to-do list.
Accept that balance isn’t a phenomenon of equal parts at all times. Professional balance is the management of time, energy, and mental and emotional fortitude in a manner that helps to sustain you in becoming a better version of yourself for continuous successful performance. Your success depends on how you take care of you. Protect your light and let your light shine!