Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vacation Over-Achiever

Like the majority of physicians, I have succeeded because of my ability to multi-task, set my sights high, and accomplish many things in small amounts of time. That combined with my "J" personality type on Myers-Briggs, makes me very capable of filling in the many boxes that define my day. While this makes me very efficient at my job, this doesn't work so well in my personal life.

The luxury of a weekend off is often overshadowed by the multitude of personal boxes to check off- trying to fit in all the things I missed out on working those other weekends- this was highlighted by my last attempt at vacation. In 4 short days ( I treated myself to a vacation day in order to extend Memorial Day for one more glorious day), I managed to plan stay with my parents almost 200 miles away and visit with my brother and sister-in-law and new baby, college friend, and high school Best Friend at beach house- for day out at beach and dinner for just adults- lugging with me dog, husband, and kid with associated luxuries packed into the car.

Although never amnestic to the trauma of childbirth and colicky baby, I always forget the torture of "vacation". Inevitably, the boxes of planned visits slowly got left unchecked as I realize that baby in tow to all of these occasions generally doesn't go off as planned. College friend was soon forgotten; dinner with Best Friend translated to running after our respective children as we tried to catch up on each other's lives- never eating dinner, since the kids wouldn't go to bed; sleep reminiscent of newborn days when the kid won't take a nap, won't sleep in borrowed pack n play- only sleeps lengthwise across my childhood bed kicking me all night.

Life's successes are defined by expectations. While I generally succeed in my professional life,-often because my expectations are that I will escape the house without child clinging his banana smeared hands on my newly pressed pants, I'll get to work relatively on time, check my boxes in a timely fashion and make it home in time to let the nanny go- I almost always fail in my personal life. Maybe because my expectations are those of earlier days when I could balance everything. Maybe because I always forget the take home points of pediatric behavior- you can't make a kid poop, eat or sleep- no matter how hard you try. Maybe my desire to be a "normal" adult is something that is unattainable. I have to learn that while maybe professionally I can do most everything I set my mind to, personally, I can't do it all. And I have to forgive myself for that. And maybe my next vacation means staying at home and doing nothing. I can underachieve once in awhile.


  1. If you're like me, you'll plan to do nothing, then do a whole lot. If you plan to do a whole lot, on the other hand, you're more likely to goof off and thus get some rest. If I were you, I'd make a checklist of 25 to-do items for your next day off!

  2. I'm still in denial that "vacation" might not be torture. (Me being of the two under 4 scenario.) The definition of success should definitely be modified when it comes to home versus work. I think it's the curve balls that come more often at home and vacation that throw our J selves for a loop.

    -From an INFJ

  3. We took our kids (6, 3 and 1) on a road trip from Vancouver, BC to San Francisco over spring break. It worked because we aimed low. Goal: make memories for the kids. We bypassed the Steinbeck museum, the interesting shops, the great restaurants. We hit the beach and In-N-Out Burger instead. I have faith that the days of traveling on my terms will eventually return.

    I hear you on the tick boxes. First thing I do on a Saturday meant to relax is pick up a pen and paper and jot down a plan on how to most efficiently and effectively make this the best day off possible. Every hour is accounted for. It's an illness.


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