dare you to practice with your spouse or
significant other and find a way to make it
• Journal on your experience.
If you think being intentional about date
nights isn’t a serious issue or has no
relation to physician burnout, think again.
A healthy relationship can recharge and
strengthen you, while an unhealthy relationship
can quickly deplete you, and even
cause health problems.
My coaching clients have found the
optimum frequency for a quality date night
is twice a month, minimum. If it has been
more than two months since your last date
night, you are way overdue. Date nights are
not the only way to strengthen your relationship,
but they are critically important,
so do not skip them.
If you do not have a significant other,
date night could be a date with someone
you’d like to know better, time with a friend,
or doing something nice or unexpected all
by yourself. (Yes, you can take yourself out
on date night, too.)
When you are really busy, figuring out
what to do on your date night can seem
like just another item on your task list.
I encourage you to do an attitude check
here. What is more important to you – the
800-pound gorilla or some love, romance,
adventure, and fun? Date night is a chance
to break out of survival mode and do
A few ideas for date nights:
• Take turns planning your date nights
but keep your plans a secret. The one who
is planning the date reveals only when to
be ready and what to wear.
• Each of you put three date night ideas
on slips of paper and drop them into a hat.
Choose one, raffle style, and go for it.
• Make it a game and set rules. Here
is a fun one: Your date night can’t involve
calories or money.
Mandatory first action on date night:
On any date night, even before you order
drinks or appetizers, your first action is to
schedule the next date night. This way you
will always have a date night on your calendar.
If I meet you on the street and ask
you to show me your Life Calendar, it must
have your next date night on it, agreed?
•The Six Pack: Instead of putting just
the next date night on your calendar, go for
a six pack. That’s right, schedule out six
date nights – three months’ worth. Put this
16 DALLAS MEDICAL JOURNAL • June 2020
article down, walk over to the calendar on
the fridge and mark them out right now.
Then your first action on date night is to
schedule the next one so you always have
six on your calendar.
• Buy Them in Bunches: Use season
tickets to book date nights in bunches.
If you have a shared interest and there
is a season ticket option, buy them. This
will take care of multiple date nights in a
BUCKET LIST SECRETS
Bucket List (noun): The list of things you
want to do before you “kick the bucket.”
My clients and I find it very useful to
build two bucket lists and use them as additional
work-life balance tools.
1. Your BIG Bucket List
These are the classic things I must do
before I die. The challenge with creating
a meaningful BIG Bucket List is that most
people put way too many things on it. This
sets you up to use the BIG Bucket List to
beat yourself up. If you put too many items
on there, you will notice you are never
crossing any of them off, and feel guilty.
Here is a reality check that will dramatically
shorten your BIG Bucket List:
• Make your BIG Bucket List. Write it
down. I encourage you to keep it in
the folder with your Ideal Practice
Description and Master Plan.
• Give someone else the list and have
them read your list back to you one
at a time.
• Take a moment to imagine failure
on this item. Imagine you die before
you accomplish this one.
• How does that feel?
• Which ones does it break your heart
to contemplate left undone?
Those are your authentic BIG Bucket List
items, and if you are like most people, your
list just got much shorter.
BIG BUCKET LIST CHECK OFF
Now, it is time to get one of these BIG
Bucket List items on your Life Calendar.
Normally, these are pretty big-ticket items
that take a significant amount of time,
energy, and money to accomplish. That is
why they lay dormant for so long. Here are
two keys to nailing your next BIG Bucket
SCHEDULE IT ANYWAY
Choose your first BIG Bucket List item.
Look out on your calendar as far as necessary
to find a time that will actually work.
It could be one, two, three years out, or
more. Schedule it anyway. Print out a calendar
for that year or month, use a brightly
colored pen and mark off the dates. Hang
it in a highly visible spot at home. Go into
work and block it off your schedule on the
work computer as well. Put a stake in the
PUT SKIN IN THE GAME
The next step is to buy the tickets. Put
money down immediately. If there is one
thing that will get a doctor to actually take
a trip, it is having money down. If you can’t
buy the tickets yet, open a savings account
and start putting money away.
Block off the time and buy the tickets
now. Whether it is Machu Picchu, Africa, the
running of the bulls in Pamplona, visiting
the country of your family’s origin, a Spanish
immersion school in Costa Rica, rafting the
Grand Canyon – get it scheduled and paid
for, and it is highly likely to actually take
place. Afterward, it will take its rightful place
in your memories as a peak experience,
rather than a heartbreaking regret.
2. Your Weekly Bucket List
Is there an activity or experience that
turns your whole week around every time
you do it? The thing that makes you say,
“Man, I wish I could do that every week.
It would make a huge difference for me.”
Most people know what this “weekly
bucket list” item is, and yet only manage
to squeeze it in every once in a while.
Common examples are a workout, a massage,
date night, hot yoga, alone time with
your children, coffee with an old friend,
walking the dog, taking a nap, meditation,
or getting a mani/pedi.
What are 2 – 3 of your weekly bucket
The Schedule Hack is where you make
sure these happen. Hacking these Weekly
Bucket List items onto your Life Calendar
is part of carving out time and space for
your life in your busy week. Defend these
items just as vigorously as you do your
work schedule to show that gorilla some
GUILT CAN COME UP HERE
Some people have problems with guilt
as they contemplate this concept of doing
something just for themselves. A little
voice saying, “What makes you think you
are so special?” can pop up when you are
blocking off time for your own personal
use. This is your programming, pure and
simple. You can tell that voice, “Thank you
for sharing” and do it anyway. It is only
when you are able to experience the pleasant
things in your life that you can understand
the difference it can make for you,
your patients, your team, and your family.