CanMEDS Manager
Life Management

Life Management



Life is to be lived not managed, however, there are many factors that contribute to a well lived life and these factors are worthy of management.

Balance is about choosing what your priorities are and, yes, privileging some things over others. What is most important to you?


What are the elements in your life that you feel you need to juggle?


List them in order of importance to you.


Now list them in order of time they consume in your day, week or year.


Does the amount of time/ energy they are given in your day or week correlate with the value you place on them?


What are the implications of this?


What things do you imagine being added to this list in the future? (children, research, caring for aging parents, volunteer work, pets, more leisure....)? How will you make this happen?




What are the things you do to relax and decompress from work?


Are there things that you used to do for recreation that seem to have fallen by the wayside?


When and why did you stop doing these things?


Are there things that you do that fill time but aren't necessarily restorative or healthy? (think trashy TV, internet, worry)


What function do these activities play in your life?


What is the value of recreation?


Do you devote enough time to recreation, rest and other restorative activities?






What are the sources of your stress and worry?


How do stress and worry manifest themselves in your life? (watching mindless tv, eating junk food, drinking more than you know is healthy, binge drinking, prescription drug use, internet, gaming...) How much time do these activities demand?



Managing a Lack of Control




Residency is a time of increasing responsibility and very little control. The time when the responsibility feels the most burdensome is when you know the least

 Physicians, to make a gross generalization, like control. But, we often have very little control over many things that directly impact on our work life - just ask a surgeon about OR time!


"Indeed, if you ask people, “What do you really control?” many say quickly, “Nothing.”They are wrong. There is one thing we can control: our choices. The choices may not be all that we had hoped, but they are choices nonetheless. Making good choices in a world of mirages and uncertainty is far more important than control."[2]

Clever’s checklist for making choices:[2]

  • Review experiences in similar situations and list take-away messages from them

  • Collect as much data as possible on measurables such as cost, distance, and time

  • Recognize that data will be incomplete, and we cannot predict the future

  • Determine practicality.How much work will changes take, and how much stamina is available? What are the political and institutional realities?

  • Ascertain others’ feelings and opinions; those most affected should receive the heaviest weighting

  • Recall how people act in the face of uncertainty,and plan remedies

  • Evaluate risks and benefits.Benefits include opportunities for growth, use of more of our gifts and self, an expansion of possibilities, reestablishment of an ethical profession, and building a sense of community

  • Measure physical and emotional health and resilience

  • Gauge how well the choice fits your values and purposes


Do your choice reflect your values?

Values are the source of meaning in life. They underlie motivation and goals; they fuel energy. Values may change as life becomes more complex and understanding grows. Values can come under pressure and even be assaulted. Answer the questions below and see how your values are doing during residency. [2]


What are your values?


What matters most to you?


What do you love to do?


Where are you most needed? Where are you irreplaceable?


What can you only do now?


Are you asking more of your spouse and children than you should?


Why did you choose this profession?


In 10 years I would like my life to be like....


What do you fear?


Ask yourself and answer these questions:

“If it were not selfish, I would . . . ”

“If I didn’t have to be perfect, I would ...”


Identify your values and make your choices based on them.

Schedule time for thinking. Protect time for the people and activities that you value. Privilege it.




2. Clever LH. A checklist for making good choices in trying—or tranquil—times. West J Med 2001;174:41-43. accessed October 3, 2011

All references for this section