Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Reframing Our Pursuit of Life Balance

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Reframing Our Pursuit of Life Balance

Article excerpt

As members of the 2013-2014 Academic Leadership Fellows Program (ALFP), we read and shared with one another an article titled "Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life" from the March 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review, written by Groysberg and Abrahams. (1) This article deeply resonated with us because the message contradicted what we had always thought to be true during our early careers: that we should be able to have it all and do it all at all times. Rather than ensuring that all aspects of the tripartite mission of teaching, scholarship, and service, are kept in balance with our personal lives, giving equal time and effort to each area, the article instead challenged us to make deliberate choices and look at the idea of life balance as a "myth." They questioned the "balance" approach and described an alternate framework that allowed professional and personal goals to overlap. By following this framework, it seemed acceptable to sacrifice long hours at a time to complete a professional project, as long as such a period of professional productivity was followed by something that replenished us personally. Upon interviewing thousands of executives and leaders, Groysberg and Abrahams found the model they outlined was operationalized best by those making the "deliberate choice" to "engage meaningfully with work, family, and community."

We wanted to share the inspiration that the Groysberg and Abrahams article brought us. The reading helped us internalize the lessons of the ALFP program and cultivate our own perspectives on what it meant to truly develop as leaders in pharmacy education. Having spent years serving as faculty members and academic administrators, we have worked within our programs to develop interprofessional initiatives, expand distance pharmacy education, mentor young faculty members, and more, in addition to fulfilling the academy's tripartite mission. We have combined our central emphasis on administrative responsibilities with our teaching, service, and scholarship in ways that make it easy to blur the lines across all of our responsibilities as administrators and educators, as well as those regarding families, children, dreams, goals, and hobbies we also need to nourish. Awareness of whether we are spending too much time in one area, or recognizing when enough is enough, has been valuable when drawing the boundaries necessary to enrich our professional and personal development, to prevent burning out, and to keep ourselves effective.

As we discussed the Groysberg and Abrahams article, we found the five structural areas of (1) defining personal success, (2) managing technology and connectedness, (3) building and maintaining support networks, (4) collaborating with partners, and (5) selectively taking or passing on opportunities were interwoven into our professional and personal lives. Focusing on these five areas, as well as consulting other references, we were inspired by the thought of making deliberate choices. For the first time, balance wasn't the goal any longer, and our shared learning and reflection made achieving all the accomplishments we see our great leaders in pharmacy doing seem much more attainable.

Defining Personal Success

Define and develop goals. It is importantto work with an end in mind. Having professional and personal goals gives us a sense of not only what we have accomplished, but also of what we have yet to complete. Adopting continuous professional development (CPD) principles and SMART (subjective, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed) goal-setting strategies are important in defining steps and planning how those steps will be realized. (2,3) Understanding goal setting can help us get closer to a notion of success solidly based on what we can accomplish, while allowing us to continue to push ourselves beyond our goals in ways that are measurable.

Focus on strengths and talents. Focusing on strengths, while managing weaknesses, was a constant theme during our year within the ALFP program. …

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