Early in my career, work-life balance was not a goal for many among my circles. We Generation Xers often prided ourselves on a strong work ethic and tireless commitment to the job. Coresidents would compare how long their shift kept them awake, and we boasted about our battlefield stories of who stayed on longer to increase their tallied surgical numbers. Later in my career, I had colleagues proudly speak of years of not taking vacation, as time away from work was felt to hinder their growth potential as new associates. In such a world that placed a premium on productivity, we often found ourselves caught in a whirlwind of demanding work schedules, never-ending tasks, personal obligations, and mounting responsibilities.
The younger generations have a different attitude toward their professional obligations and one that we at first looked at sideways, questioning their commitment and wondering whether they would be able to keep up with the demands as we had. More than 2 decades into my career, I can admit that I have learned a lot from the example my younger, more “balanced” colleagues have set for us with their wanderlust, adventurous spirit, no-shame-in-wanting-to-carve-out-me-time, and work-hard-play-hard attitude.
Increasingly I look for ways to balance my demanding professional life and take pride in speaking of ways I have carved out quality time for my loved ones and myself. To balance the highly demanding yet fulfilling professional lives we have created, travel especially emerges as more than an escape—it serves as a catalyst for personal growth, creativity, and renewed vigor that can significantly rejuvenate us when we return to home and work. Travel offers a change of scenery, forces us to break from our daily routines, challenges our perspectives, and encourages adaptability.
Travel also provides an opportunity for introspection and self-discovery. When we step away from the demands of work, we create space to reflect on our goals, aspirations, and the direction in which we are heading. A well-rested mind is more focused, efficient, and capable of tackling challenges with greater resilience. So, as we bid farewell to summer, I hope you had the chance to travel or rest; connect with friends and family; and weave moments of joy, reflection, and transformation into your days.