How Are You Investing Your Time?
THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 30 - NO. 1 - JANUARY 2002
Reflections at the beginning of this year stand worlds apart from those of a year ago. In the past 12 months we've seen a rapid decline in global stability, terrorist acts on American soil unparalleled in magnitude or horror, an economic recession, and the virtual dissolution of Internet start-up companies. As we bid adieu to 2001, prospects of improvement are, thankfully, brighter.
However, reality has set in. There is evil in the world. Bad things happen. Good ideas fail. Our economic hope is not the World Wide Web, and the US is no longer the unqualified sanctuary we thought it was.
What have we learned through the difficulties of the past year? We have learned that stability and strength can be fleeting and fragile and need constant monitoring. That fear is a powerful force. That resilience is woven securely into the American fabric. And that difficult times are best prepared for by recognizing the uncertainty the future holds and by maintaining a substantial reserve.
What is reserve? I view it as a measure of everything in which we have invested that ultimately makes our lives worthwhile and fulfilling. If our jobs were suddenly taken away, what would we have left in our reserves to sustain us? It is our actions that indicate the focus of our lives. Is our focus too narrow?
As we begin a new year, it might be worthwhile to reflect on the status of our own reserves. Do we accord equal priority to our relationships, our career, our financial stewardship, and our physical and spiritual health? These tend to be the four pillars of our lives, and having these in balance is one way to ensure that our focus is broad and reserves are fully stocked.
As you reflect further, you might want to keep this four-pillar model in mind even when seeing patients. We cannot overemphasize the role that exercise plays in improving and maintaining our patients' physical and even spiritual health. Regular exercise demonstrates their commitment to create a physical reserve. For physicians, good diagnostic skills include digging a bit deeper into patients' lives to see if they are maintaining a balance.
Likewise, a good physician is a good role model. As we enter this season of resolutions and an era of new resolve, it's also a good time to ask ourselves whether we practice what we preach. By establishing balance—including an emphasis on our own exercise program—we create the reserve that is critical in times of challenge and fragility. It's something to think about.
I wish you all a happy—and balanced—new year.