Shortly after I finished my doctorate degree my then brand new husband and I found ourselves living in Seattle. We both work in healthcare, and were surrounded by conscientious, active, intellectual people, primarily in the field of healthcare as well. I remember clearly a conversation with a newly made friend. Instead of the common getting to know you small talk, she went straight for the deep stuff. She asked me :”What are you working on right now?” My blank stare must have given away my lack of understanding because she immediately substantiated her question with “you know, what are your goals right now, what are you doing to improve yourself?”. Certainly I’m a self reflective, goal oriented, far reaching kind of gal. What I was “working on right now” was getting a grip on managing my patient caseload, living in a new city, and enjoying my new husband. At this particular time of my life, I had just finished up a long string of education, moved states twice in two years, and gotten married. I was feeling a brief and seemingly deserved moment of reprieve. Perhaps I would take a break from goals for a few months and just…just do what? Certainly I was working full time, treating patients and growing in my field but I had for one moment taken my foot off the proverbial gas pedal, and then was called out on it by a complete stranger. At that moment I didn’t have a specific goal.
This same gal invited us to a New Year’s Eve party several months later. At the party she had laid out paper and envelopes. Guests were to write their new year’s resolutions on the paper, seal it into a self addressed envelope, and at the end of the next year she would mail it to us and we could determine our success in achieving our resolutions. What an excellent opportunity new years resolutions present. We can reflect on the passing year, and make goals for the new year. Some maybe pie in the sky, some may be seemingly small. What I have come to realize, is that each new year’s resolution represents the opportunity to create change, no matter how big or small.
The following year my father-in-law passed away at 59 years old. Like a glass bottle over the head, my husband and I were struck with the notion that life is short my friends, and things can happen to us and the people that we love. This fact drove home the importance of new year’s resolutions. For me, it is because we do not truly know how many new years we will get. It’s not that we should be making lofty goals for our careers so that we can climb up and get ahead for the sake of getting ahead. Nor is it that arming ourselves with promotions and degrees or certifications will somehow make us better/richer/more powerful. Nor should we toil away hours at the gym or on the pavement to be thinner/more attractive/with more miles than our running partner.
For me, new year’s resolutions represent the opportunity to make ourselves better for the sake of a better life for us and those around us. I am so far from where I truly want to be that it makes me anxious sometimes. Some of my annual resolutions include to be more patient and drink less caffeine. The reason for this is that improved patience will lead to less stress so that I can care for my family with less distraction. Decreasing my caffeine intake will decrease my heart palpitations which drive my husband and I both crazy (he is in cardiology and on me about my coffee intake all the time). But though I fail to be perfect in these and perhaps a few others, there are annual triumphs as well. Running without injury, achieving a professional credential that I had been chasing for years in order to provide more comprehensive care for my pelvic pain patients, to name a few this year.
So this year, let us look back on our past year, analyze areas of opportunity for growth, and make our resolutions. Let us work our hardest to achieve them, and not hang ourselves by our toenails next December if we fail.
Happy Holidays my friends. Thank you for reading this blog, I appreciate all of your comments and the community we have created.
Take care, and make your New Year great,