New Year's Resolutions
It is a brand new year and everyone is talking about their resolutions to be better, slimmer, healthier, more assertive, free of excessive baggage, better paid and all round closer to their vision of an ideal self.
Looking back over some articles I had written a few years ago, I saw one about New Year's resolutions and realized that my view of resolutions has not changed much.
I no longer make New Year's resolutions. Let me explain: most resolutions, though made with the best of intentions, go the way of the woolly mammoth--they become extinct before the year is half-way through. Also, there is something a little desperate and faddish about joining everyone else in a pledge to change on this one day. I neither like setting myself up for failure, nor do I like group-think.
However, as a profession, I think we would do well to deliberately resolve to do the following (taken partially from that article):
Reminisce. It is enlightening, humbling and encouraging to look back and see how far we have come. Today's laboratorian has many more tools at his or her disposal. They can accomplish a lot more, and in less time; but that all this progress grew out of a proud and dignified past typified by skill, initiative and determination.
Advertise. I suggest that this year you take every opportunity to educate and advertise; brag about our fine profession. It is neither modest nor noble to simply bewail the ignorance of others about our profession, while we do nothing to change that image. We ought to proactively seize every chance to advertise.
Get involved. Equally as important as telling what we do is advocating for a more visible, viable role in our wider workplace and in society as a whole.
Innovate. Management guru, Peter Drucker (1998) claims that "Every organization, not just business, needs one core competency-innovation." As competitive as healthcare is these days, as little as we have to work with, it behooves us to increase efficiency while we add value to our customers (physicians and patients). We can do this by offering to be bolder or more innovative. In fact, the mantra might well be "innovate or die."
Take care of yourself. So much of what we perceive in our professional lives is colored by what is happening outside the workplace. One lesson I have learned the hard way is that no job is worth destroying your psyche, your peace of mind, sense of self or family. It is radically important to be able to blow off steam, bounce ideas around and unwind from a stressful day.
I urge you to find something that resonates for you--running, listening to music, cooking, dancing, meditation, whatever--and regularly indulge in that activity. So important is balance for mental health that I believe in scheduling downtime if that is what it takes to make it seem important and valid enough to accomplish each day.
Without this sense of balance one can easily lose the equanimity that is needed to function effectively at work.
Have a phenomenal 2009!