|By Tanya Pinto, Canada [ Published Date: January 18, 2005 ]|
I was led into a large boardroom and asked to sit anywhere I wanted. I thought it would be best if I sat across from those interviewing me. I was asked the usual questions, why are you interested in coming here, tell me about yourself, and then half way through the interview, they asked how I intended to balance my professional life with my personal life.
Balance. The last time I heard that word was a few weeks ago when a group of us got together for dinner before we all dispersed for interviews. When you are in medicine, the conversation naturally revolves around medicine, its challenges and demands. Just like any other career, where there is a focus on diligence and ambition, there is always a need to maintain a balance between life outside the home with life inside the home. Without having this balance, it always seems as if one is living an incomplete life, isolated and separated from experiencing and exploring the core relationships that are often said to define the meaning of life.
I had recounted our discussion during dinner to one of the physicians I was working with. Dr. Barr listened intently to me as I told him of the discussion over dinner and that our final conclusion was that balance is difficult to achieve given the multiple demands on our time, and that while balance should be the goal, perhaps we should be prepared to accept that balance may never be achieved and some part of life may have to be sacrificed.
Dr. Barr furrowed his brows and “hmmmmmmmed” at our final conclusion. He looked at me and said, “ I have been where you are and I can tell you that all you have to do is to make time.”
Make time, I thought. How can anybody make time? There are only 24 hours in a day; you cannot make any more time than that. Certainly on some days I have wished that there were 36 hours in the day, because that is what it would take me to get in my reports, study, find time to attend birthdays, engagement parties, eat, shower and sleep. I told Dr. Barr about the finite number of hours in the day and how is it possible to make any time given that we all only have so much time to work with.
He smiled at me. It was the same smile you give someone who is completely missing the big picture and focusing too much on the trees instead of the forest.
“You have to make time for what is important to you. Look at me,” he explained. “I can spend every hour of my day doing paperwork if I wanted. The hospital would only be too thrilled if I saw more patients in less time and did more administrative work. But spending the appropriate time with my patients is important to me and spending time with my family is important to me. While there will always be work for me to do, there is only one year that my son will be two years of age and only one year that marks my tenth anniversary. Because you are going to be a busy person, it is more critical for you to realize what is important to you and if you think it is important, you must make time. If not, then you will lose it and you do not want to be one of those people who realizes the importance of what is lost after it has been lost.”
I thought about what Dr. Barr had said all day. I thought of all things I considered important in my life. If I really did think they were important, I should be able to make time for them. His advice helped to put things in perspective for me and helped me to find a balance in my life.
Dr. Barr’s words always resonate in my mind when I am asked questions on how I intend to balance my professional life with my personal life.
Now I can honestly say, “I make time.”