Career choice is personal and requires that you know your priorities to best assess how a medical specialty aligns with your lifelong goals. As part of the process of selecting your career path, take time to outline specific career and personal life goals that would help you make these important decisions. 

Achieving successful work-life balance is a matter of understanding that the choices you make impact the paths you take. As pediatricians, we tend to place high value on work-life balance, perhaps because we work with families every day. 

While coping with stress is a personal endeavor, the freedom to focus and prioritize time spent as spouses, parents, friends, sports fans, artists, advocates, coaches and community leaders is a key to finding balance. Here are some helpful strategies to keep in mind as you continue on your journey. 

Medicine is a high-stakes career with considerable responsibilities that requires commitment, determination and grit to deal with numerous challenges and stressful situations. It is also a very rewarding profession which provides deep satisfaction.  

Find Your Mentors 
Be proactive in finding ways to mitigate career stress by identifying leaders, champions, mentors or colleagues who can help you to articulate goals, track your objectives and celebrate your successes. This kind of support will allow you to make career decisions that align with your priorities and help you to stay on track, nurture your happiness and further your success. 

Find the Right Fit 
When contemplating a career specialty, reflect on what brings you satisfaction versus what drains your energy. Find a practice style that fits your goals, personality and strengths. There are many ways to practice pediatrics: as a hospitalist, generalistsubspecialist, or academician. Many of these offer options for full-time or part-time work and can offer varying levels of flexibility, even allowing you to do advocacy and/or legislative work. 

Keep in mind that it’s very likely that your practice will evolve throughout your career. As in any field, physicians change jobs in order to advance their career, develop further skills or to pursue new interests. Likewise, personal needs ebb and flow. Sometimes work needs you moreother times it might be your personal life that needs special attention and time.

Making deliberate choices, communicating your needs and acknowledging when you need to shift priorities can lead to good work-life balance and will enhance your relationships with colleagues, partners and significant others. 

Never Lose Sight of Your Dreams 
It can be easier to describe dreams than define plans. Dreaming allows us to aim high and consider what makes us happy without being encumbered by the means to achieve it. Keep those dreams alive by turning them into smaller achievable goals. This is critical to personal success because progress cannot be measured without recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments along the way.  

Keep Reflecting and Revisiting 
Reflection may be the most powerful step in moving forward. It is very useful to take note of what gives us pause and inspiration.

Whether it's journaling on your laptop or writing in a notebook in your backpack, take notes of compelling or intriguing experiences and insights. It may be weeks before you have time to analyze them, but that record of an event will resurrect the moment. Upon reflection, look a bit deeper and decide whether the action, activity or event warrants further thought and how it can impact your future decisions.  

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American Academy of Pediatrics