Hi, my name is Dr. Briggs E. Cook. I’m a plastic surgeon located in North Carolina, currently serving as the Medical Director of Pure Facial Plastic Surgery and MedSpa. Between work and five kids at home with my wife, Kia, days can be pretty long. Adding to the difficulty is dealing with twins diagnosed with PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Association with Strep). They require extra medical attention throughout the year. I’m often asked by others how I’m able to balance out family and work.
Here are my four biggest tips that help me.
1. Keep Weekends for Family.
I’m very thankful that my job has a pretty typical work schedule. There are times I do have to work on the weekend, but I try not to as much as possible because that is family time in my opinion. I try to always be there for my family because they put up with having me only part of the time for five days.
2. Mixing Business and Personal is Fine.
There are a lot of people, even within my industry, that want to avoid talking about their personal life at all costs during the days with patients, colleagues, and more. While I agree that there is a time and a place for all of that, family is just too important to completely avoid throughout the work day. A lot of people like to hear about family for a variety of reasons. For starters, it humanizes me and perhaps makes me a little bit less intimidating. Also, it gives people an idea of what I am going to through and some of my struggles, including PANDAS. It also gives me an outlet to advocate for this often-misdiagnosed disease.
The fact is, everyone has their own struggles and a lot of times we try to avoid sharing them at work. By sharing stories, it can put everyone at ease a little bit more. You do not want to wear people out by constantly talking about personal information, but do not be afraid to mix business and personal.
3. Family Can Help with Work.
Some people end up joining the family business. For me, that doesn’t really seem to be the case since I am working in a very specific field. However, there are ways in which family can help with work, even indirectly. They can provide support when times are tough and an extra hand is needed. You shouldn’t completely separate your family from your work or you risk building animosity with spouses and other family members, as they may often see you choosing work over them.
4. Don’t Overcommit.
Early on in my life after having kids, I was trying to do everything and refusing to say no. Eventually, it pretty much wore me out to the point that I was not in a good place. I had to step back and realize that I can’t overcommit or I am not going to be able to live the life I wanted.
It is fine to say no to certain invitations, especially if it means spending extra time with family. Our mentality is to always work, work, and work some more, but sometimes that can be detrimental. It is fine to put in 60 hours of work a week or more, but doing it on a consistent basis might ruin the balance you’re working on.
Don’t feel obligated to go to every dinner with vendors or partners. Don’t feel like you have to make an appearance at every party your patients or clients invite you to. They, too, have families and understand that many times family comes first. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go to any, after all you are trying to grow a business. Keep it in balance, and when times allow bring your family along.