Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happiness Over Money

Years ago, soon after I had started medical school, a friend of mine who is a physician came in from out of town for a visit.  During his stay, I inundated him with questions about medicine and work life balance and time off for physicians.  When the subject of vacation came up, I was quite surprised to hear that he could take almost as much time off as he wanted to, but he didn't.  It was, he said, too hard to give up the money.

At the time, I didn't understand.  I viewed vacation as a wonderful time of happiness and freedom, and I couldn't imagine passing it up for more money when doctors already make lots of money.

Fast forward eight or nine years, and I understand completely.  When the amount you earn is directly proportional to the amount you work, and especially when you still have 5-10 years of debt repayment ahead of you, it's really hard to justify time off from work.  Every day off is a calculation: 

One half day of clinic x X patients/half day x $Y/patient = I think I'll go to work.  

It's so easy to look at that calculation and think that I don't need a vacation and that it's okay for me to miss out on the things that make me happy.  Except that I do.  And it isn't.

So I'm learning to value my time more than my income.  It started today, with cancelling a half day clinic so that I can go to a really interesting conference on work life balance.  And then, emboldened by that decision, I decided to take an entire week off during our local theatre festival.  A week!  It took me hours to commit to the decision, but now that I've made it, it feels right.  It feels entirely right for me to make time for something that I love that gives me joy.

After all, why else am I here?

10 comments:

  1. This is always a tough one.....make/save money so when you retire you can travel, take up (continue) a hobby, etc.! Or, live in the moment because you can't take it with you! So, I guess we somehow find & live in the middle???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is tough! The nice thing is, I've learned that I can live off a relatively small amount of money, so I likely need a lot less to retire on than your average physician. I also see people dying prematurely all the time, which is a powerful reminder to make time (and spend some money) to enjoy life now.

      Delete
    2. Amen to this. I do think of that all the time - obviously saving a reasonable amount to retire on is important, but sometimes life can be really short. Yay to finding a balance you can be happy with now and later!

      Delete
  2. Yay capitalism!

    And also, good on you for valuing a break enough to make it happen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's taken me almost eight months of work to reach the point where I feel okay taking time off. My girlfriend and I have had a lot of heated discussions about the importance of holidays, and she's usually right that I need to work less.

      Yay capitalism, indeed.

      Delete
    2. You say eight months as though it's a long time. That sounds so short to me!

      Delete
  3. You're mostly making the calculation via income, which is at least more valid than my absolute crippling guilt about taking a selfish solo trip during grad school (BUT! DATA! MENTORING EXPECTATIONS!)

    I can't even go visit my parents without feeling guilt (and that's fun because I get guilt from BOTH ends!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure that passing on vacation to earn more income is necessarily more valid than passing on vacation for research/training! Regardless, we all need time off and shouldn't feel guilty about taking it. No one ever reached the end of their life and thought "I really wish I had spent more time at work".

      Delete
  4. Your right I would definitely choose happiness over money, but the money can make things alot easier.

    This video helped me out take a look it's a minute long. https://youtu.be/_xHhGO3cvvo

    ReplyDelete