This may sound a little morbid and not 100% relevant if you want to be cremated and your ashes scattered to the seven winds (like me, not that I’m thinking so far ahead, of course), but it’ll all make sense at the end, I promise.
The story starts in early 2016. I’m looking for another job because my full-time just went part-time (joys of taking a maternity leave position). Scrolling through the optom jobs board and behold! One of my old uni tutors is hiring for his practice! Hello dream job, says I to myself – really nice guy, very knowledgeable and loves teaching which means I’ll learn heaps, this clinic is the perfect balance between the busy pace of a rural practice with the convenient location of being in metro – my prayers have been answered, this is the best, etc etc. I submit my application and nek minit, he’s called and offered me the job over the phone. WOOHOOOO! Nek nek minit, he’s emailed and said actually my wife wants to meet you before we hire you.
Okay, this is weird now.
Long and tumultuous story short, I visit this practice and meet this wife who literally tells me when I get to her age (late 40s, I’m guessing) there’s no such thing as work-life balance.
After this delightful conversation with the wife, I spend the next 40mins chatting with the owner of the practice and my potential future boss. These are his basic demands of me – come early, skip lunch, finish late, work every Saturday, never turn a patient away even if you have a full book already or even if they miss their appointment and rock up at closing time.
Now, I’m all for working hard. But I’m also about living. And life ≠ work. This is what I figure – there’s this thing called work-life balance and it’s very precious to me because when I’m buried in the ground (or ashes scattered to the seven winds), on my metaphorical tombstone do I really want it to say “Great, hardworking optometrist who saw a record number of patients in her time”? I love optometry and I love seeing my patients but that is not what I want in my eulogy. The life part of work-life balance requires that I have other interests and other human interactions outside of the staff I work with and the patients I see in the clinic. I play sport, I attend church and its associated activities, I catch up with friends for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
At the end of my life I want to have made a difference in the lives of the people within my sphere of influence, and yes, that does include my patients and for that reason when I’m at work then I work hard, I will take in as many emergency cases as come through my door and I will call my patients days or weeks later to make sure things are okay. But I won’t sacrifice my health and I won’t sacrifice my relationships with my loved ones (ie. the ones who will actually be at my funeral) just for the sake of making an extra dollar.
I understand attitudes to work may be different in the corporate world and in different cultures, and some people may see my perspective as being selfish or lazy. Everyone places a different value on different areas of life.
The ultimate question is this though – at the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for? Is the way you spend your limited time going to achieve you a legacy you’re proud of, or are you going to #regret the way you allocated your numbered days?
P.S. In case you were wondering, I didn’t get that job. We both agreed that practice and I were not suited to each other. Bullet dodged!