I am a big believer that the cornerstone of happiness in life is our interpersonal relationships. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that your career, no matter how much you enjoy it or how well it goes, will not give you a rich and full life by itself. At the end of our days, I’m confident, the only thing that will still matter is the people we care about and those who care about us.
About 6 weeks ago, I looked around the treatment room, saw the other veterinarians I work with bustling from one room to the next, and thought to myself, “You know.. I really like these people. Why don’t I spend more time with them?”
The clinic where I work has about 10 doctors at this point, and I enjoy every single one of them. However, because our schedules differ and we are all busy with our own cases, we almost never get time to just be together. I suspect your clinic is the same way. When we are together, there’s work to be done. When the work is done, we go home.
[Let me take a moment here and say I also love working with our technicians and support staff, but because they routinely work with me on cases, I get to talk with them a lot more than the other doctors.]
As I look around at our busy profession and all the distractions that take up time we used to just hang out with each other, I’m a bit concerned. Relationship building takes time. Building feelings of trust and connection doesn’t happen in short, task-oriented bursts. It has become too easy to work with our heads down, scroll through our phones during breaks, and then head home to watch algorithm?driven personalized entertainment on our smartTVs. I’m worried we are losing the ability to just “hang out.”
As I looked around the treatment room, I realized that I wouldn’t ever get to have the relationship I want with these other doctors if I don’t create some time for us to visit and be together outside the clinic.
A month later, 6 of us met up on the porch of a brewery after work. We got a great table under a fan out on the patio and grabbed a bite to eat from a food truck. We traded stories about cases we have seen, mistakes we have made, and people we have met. We talked about our families, commutes, favorite movies, and the concerts we have been to. After it was over, we decided we would do it again in a few months.
Take a moment to remember what it was like hanging out with your friends when you were young. That feeling of spending time together and being present in the moment. It’s become too rare for too many of us.
Today, maybe consider inviting people you’d like to know better to do something outside the clinic. It doesn’t have to cost money or take a ton of time. Maybe it’s a couple of people going for a walk at lunch, or get?ing together one evening for board game night, to see a movie, or to grill out. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as just getting people to put down their phones and talk about their interests. After all, time spent getting to know the people we spend our lives with is rarely wasted.