Plan a Life Not Just a Living

For as long as I can remember,  I know I have always wanted to be a doctor.

When I was in high school, I met  a family friend  who is an anesthesiologist. She is kind, warm, compassionate.  She attended to me when I had my first minor surgery before entering college.  She is  partly practicing and partly holding an administrative position. She was simple, pretty and elegant.

Mostly I was attracted to her demeanor. Warm, soft spoken but firm at the same time. She reassured me while going through the procedure. She seem to like what she is doing. She has a family  and spends a good amount of time with them.  I sensed a great mix of work and family life. I kept that in my mind through the years.

I want a life like that ,I told my young self.

I have kept that image  of  work life balance in my mind. Many years forward, I am a physician and had opportunities to do administrative and training work in my hospital.

Have I done it?  The balance?  I must admit not all the time.  But I found a good means to  find my way back  when it tips  off to one side.

I would like to teach you how.

Let me share  one story with you.   In one training session, I met Dr. A. She is a young fellow in her last year of training. We had an activity where they were asked to create images of their desired future.

How would life be 5 to 10 years from now?

How would each day of waking up look like?

Where am I ?

Who am I with?

What is my work place like?

How is my weekend?

Do I have a family? How are we?

Many questions. The answer to which had to be placed on a board with the most colorful and representative pictures we could find.

Then it was time to share. As she was called, I noticed she was teary eyed. The exercise was a revelation to her. Looking at her board, she saw that her ideal life was way off with the lifestyle of her chosen field. She wanted a predictable day time job that would allow her to do other things. No night calls. No emergencies.

She cried. I can sense regret and sadness.  She is on her last few days of training . Then I told her, “you know, your practice  can be as you define and design it”. She couldn’t get back the years she spent training for her field but she can practice in a way that could fit her desired ideal life.

I see her around these days. She is happy. Her practice is mostly ambulatory. She trained further in a subspecialty that makes it more of a day job. This field does not require night calls and is seldom an emergency.

Create your vision of life and work.  Keep it where you can see it. Make it a reminder to yourself each day you wake up.

.Why plan a practice when you can plan a life?

What’s your plan? Share yours.

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Practice Blue Print

Blue Print

My dad was in the construction business for the longest time.  One of his project is helping start up families  build their first home. I would hear him advice them on how to plan for their dream home.

 

It may not happen now”,  he would say, “but as you build this house, lay the foundation for the dream house”.

 

You can start with a single storey, but  plan and design  for a multiple storey.  You can build in stages. When money comes, add on and make it a project.

 

Starting  a practice is very much like building a dream house.

 

 A  blue print  helps create the life you want  one step at  a time.  Just like in a house, a blue print  helps connect the different “rooms” in our life .

 

It  also helps us recognize opportunities that fit into the dream  when they come.

 

A friend  wanted to have clinic only  in the mornings.  She would like her afternoons free to do other things.  But the schedule she likes is taken.  She approached a  friend who is currently occupying the clinic slot she likes and told her  that in case her friend gives up the slot, she would gladly take it.  She did!

 

When I was planning, I defined what I wanted by imagining how things will be. I wanted time for my family. I would like to be able to bring and fetch my son in school.  I wanted to finish with patients early. I would prefer less calls at night. I wanted most of my patients to be first born. I want patients who do not hop from one doctor to another. I want a relationship with my patients and their families. I should be able to get home to tutor my son.

 

Because I imagined how things will be, I scheduled my clinic hours around my son’s school hours. I decided to practice in a hospital where there are residents. I tied up with a friend who teaches Lamaze to first time parents teaching basic baby care before they give birth.

 

Picture your dream practice. Build on it.