Sunday, April 25, 2010

Buying time

I went to a great talk last week with a physician-writer, Danielle Ofri. One take-away life lesson: buy myself time.

Early in her career, there were no full-time positions available so Dr. Ofri settled for a part-time job. When finally offered a full-time position and a much higher salary, she asked herself: what will I do with that extra money? The only thing she really wanted was what money could not buy – time. So she turned down the full-time job, buying herself priceless time and space for writing and other projects.

This reminded me of the idea that Stefan Sagmeister discusses in this TED talk. Every seven years, Sagmeister closes down his company for one year in order to “conduct a full year of experiments.” It is a time dedicated to creativity and new thinking.

He suggests that rather than the typical life model shown below:
25 years: learning 
40 years: working 
15 years: retirement

That instead we cut off 5 years of retirement and intersperse those years in between the working years: 

Could this work in the field of medicine? It would be very difficult for a primary care doctor with long-term relationships with patients...

But I’ve also been thinking about this idea in relation to Josh’s post, wondering if taking time off from yoga (during injury or for other reasons) is an important part of our overall practice… to take a step back, to break bad habits and routines, and to reinvigorate?

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely adhere to this idea, which is why I became an academic. Burnout is so severe that sabbatical is built into the system. However, you have to promise to "work on something" during - which we all do, but then do "other" things that recharge and revitalize. I think for medical professionals that is key, too, and your patients would understand. I'm always happy to hear when my doctor is on vacation, as I understand.