Vet Wellness Briefs: Balancing Your Life as an Equine Veterinarian

Finding balance in your life as an equine veterinarian can be difficult. It begins with identifying your priorities so that you can align your actions with them. Those priorities may change over the course of your life, and your level of balance surely will. Parents of young children usually struggle to find adequate time to accomplish everything on their to-do list, much less their wish list. Understanding what matters to you the most will help you choose how to spend your time. It will also allow you to establish the necessary boundaries to do so. As with all things, those decisions can have financial impacts. If you choose to work fewer hours or days, your revenue production could be affected. However, this is not a certainty. Some equine veterinarians are refreshed by having more time away from work, and their productivity does not suffer at all. 

Explore Your Priorities

You can explore your priorities by asking yourself these questions: How satisfied am I with how I am spending my time? What do I want to do more of? What do I want to do less of? Do I have time to keep my important relationships with my spouse, family and friends alive? Am I able to have spiritual, physical and mental health in the life I am currently leading? What am I willing and able to give up to have a fuller life? 

It is important to measure your life balance in increments greater than a day. In a stressful occupation like veterinary medicine, which by its nature is not very compatible with balance, measuring your life satisfaction over the time of several weeks or even a month might be more appropriate. 

Balancing Life as an Equine Veterinarian Over Time

The balance you need will change over life’s stages. During the early years of parenting, there is often little time between the demands of family and work. Being realistic about how much you can work and remain mentally healthy is very important. As children grow, a feel-good balance is more about being present for important moments that matter, like a ballet recital or a basketball game, and less about the 24/7 care of an infant. Aging parents with failing health can also upend your work schedule. Again, you might need to think about what matters most to you, and how you can afford to follow those priorities. You will likely never regret spending as much time as possible with a parent dying of cancer, even though the financial cost could be high. 

You are the one responsible for creating the life you need. No one else is going to know more than you what you need to be happy. Financial realities are likely to dictate at least some of your choices. But it is important to recognize that contentment has been shown by research to be unrelated to wealth, once basic needs are met. More simplicity, more gratitude, fewer belongings and closer relationships are related to increased happiness. 

Establish Boundaries

To merge your work responsibilities with your life priorities, boundaries can help. If having dinner with your family at least three times a week is important to you, consider adding it to your written schedule for the rest of the year. If there are events of great meaning to you that have a set date, like a friend’s wedding or a child’s debut in a school play, make the adjustments to ensure that you can attend. This might mean arranging for an alternative veterinarian to cover your on-call responsibilities, or even hiring a relief doctor to travel out of town. Make the moments matter. Life can be short. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Make sure you live now; don’t wait for some time in the future to make the life you imagine a reality.

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Wellness Briefs are brought to you in 2023 by Zoetis

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