New Year… New Me
Or is it? Personally, I love this time of year. I know people get tired of hearing everyone’s New Year’s resolutions that will most likely fail, but what other time of the year can you get so many people to even consider making themselves better at the same time? There are some things that you must consider moving forward and now is the best time to reflect. It’s not so much about setting up a resolution, it’s more about reflecting on which systems did not work well for you over the past year and which made you more refined. What skills did you acquire? Did you implement them? Are you proficient at them? What diagnoses did you see for the first time? What did you learn from that experience? Did you fail at anything? If so, how can we ensure the same mistakes don’t happen again?
"Let go of the past, but keep the lessons it taught you." — Chiari Gizzi, Fearless Soul
Some say you should leave the past in the past, but if you don’t look at where you’ve come from, you might miss out on how far you have made it. Tread lightly and be careful not to stare, you may get enticed into making the same mistake twice. As you’re driving in the opposite direction of who you were at the beginning of last year, you may fail to appreciate that you have transitioned from steering your sedan over a bumpy, dirt road to now smooth sailing on an open road with very little traffic. Of course, there were times where you may have lost control of the wheel a little or made wrong turns, but you’re here. Take a moment to give yourself credit for your growth. It’s easy to overlook how much you’ve blossomed if you let your failures overshadow your gains.
We are not taking a stroll on the beach here. We are learning to adjust to weather changes that are both anticipated and fickle. Some days will be sunny with a 50% chance of showers, while others are nothing but heavy rain with a 0% chance of sunburn. Either way, our goal is to always perform at a high level. I mentioned earlier about reflecting on which systems did not work well over the past year. This concept of "systems" isn’t new at all.
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve, and systems are about the processes that lead to those results”— James Clear, Atomic Habits.
In fact, you may already have a few in place such as preparing your work clothes the night before, so you’re not surprised by a shortage of clean laundry or even food prepping to take the decision making out of your morning routine. In both circumstances, you had a goal that was able to be attained by establishing systems that increased your probability of becoming successful. These same habits can certainly be translated into your day-to-day pursuit of professional goals.
So where does this leave us today on our excursion of becoming The Rockstar clinician for most and The Alligator of the Swamp for a chosen few? It places us in a position of strength and gratitude as we take the time to balance our checkbooks, as my grandmother would say. Reflect on situations over this past year with the intentions of seeing how each one made you a little better as a person and clinician. Did you express empathy in times of need, like when a patient has lost a family member while under your care? Did you empower those that may have felt helpless before seeing you? Did you teach or learn from a colleague when given the opportunity? Did you Shut Up and Listen to your patients when they felt like they weren’t improving? Did you admit when you were wrong or weren’t the solution to your patients’ problems? Sometimes it’s not a clear cut yes or no. The growth comes from acknowledging these efforts and allowing yourself to mature as a clinician from them. Let’s start the year with a challenge of embracing these experiences collectively, personal and professional, to help strengthen our footing as we push forward into this new year.