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What is Lifestyle, Anyway?

Everyone in Medicine these days runs around talking about “lifestyle.”  That specialty has a crappy lifestyle… That one’s not so bad… maybe you can job share or something…

Some people say it’s all about lifestyle: Pick the specialty based on the lifestyle because otherwise you will be miserable.  But really, what is lifestyle?

People have separated the work from the pleasure.  Work is what you do to make money so you can live.  What’s the point of working hard and making lots of money if you can’t do what you want to because you are so busy with work?  I, however, argue: Isn’t work a part of lifestyle?

Why go to a job that you hate everyday just to make money so you have more time to do the things you like to do outside of work?  Regardless of your chosen profession, you are still going to spend more than 50% of your working life doing that job.  So really, you are going to be miserable for the majority of your life ust so you can be happier in the minority of your life?  I don’t get it.

Maybe I don’t get it because I’m chasing down a specialty that has the worst reputation.  Babies come when they want, so there will always be long hours in obstetrics… There will always be call. People ask me if I’m crazy… Why would you want to do that to yourself?

Maybe I don’t get it because before I went to medical school, I had a job that I hated.  I was so depressed because I hated my job.  Even though work was done at 4:30 and I never had to take it home with me, I was miserable… at work and at home.  I made a decision to go back to school and I’m not letting that happen again!

Today I worked with a psychiatrist who said that he absolutely loves his job.  And, it has an amazing lifestyle: “I’m all for the lifestyle,” he said.  Sure, we started at 9am, we had a long lunch, he dictated every patient’s progress note before he saw his next patient, and we were done by 3:30.  That would never, EVER happen in the world of obstetrics.  It got me thinking…

For a second.

For some people, lifestyle might be about what they do outside of work.  For me, however, I think of lifestyle as the sum of all of life’s events.  Sure, I might work longer hours than some people… I might have to do call even when I’m an attending physician… I might have to miss a Christmas concert or a soccer game at some point… Those are all downsides.  But if I’m doing all that because I love my job and it brings me immense satisfaction in my life, I might it not be worth it?  After all, I would be happier all around, and isn’t that what lifestyle should be about?

Maybe I’m the one who has it all wrong, I don’t know!

Ask me again in 10 years and see what I say…

13 thoughts on “What is Lifestyle, Anyway?

  1. Lifestyle is how we live whether its work or play. But why can’t work be play? Then you will never work another day and have immense satisfaction. I am an artist and poetry writer and I have a wonderful life whether I sell anything or not. I love following your journey. L


  2. I just started watching the show Parenthood (it’s on Netflix if you haven’t seen it), but it has a mom who is a lawyer and works all the time. I like her character the most because that’s how I see myself, just replacer lawyer with social worker. & yes as a social worker you can open your own practice and be a therapist working the 9-5 and occasional emergency call. That’s not for me. I want the social work that involves several cases and always being on call and dealing with broken families and children especially. I am all for a career that I am passionate about, and personally I could not see myself being happy as the homemaker. If I am going to be married with kids, everyone has to be involved in helping out. It’s gotta be a balance, at least in my perfect world. 😉


  3. I always believe that life is about the moments during the journey, not the end result. So working a job you hate leads to crappy moments, a crappy journey and essentially a crappy life.

    PS I totally second the killing kids after two weeks of Winter Break 🙂


  4. I have always loved my work. I had my own business as a midwife for a while, and yes – the hours were sometimes excruciating, the pressures sometimes intense, but the job was extermely satisfying, uplifting, and rewarding in every way. Wishing you a similar journey, would be the nicest thing I could do.


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