2017 isn’t any better. But you are.

In a matter of hours, we’ll all watch the ball drop and welcome a brand new year. My social media feeds have been full of people talking about how relieved they are that 2016 is finally over. And I see where they’re coming from. There’s been a lot of turmoil around the world, as well as right here at home. Racism, violence, and politics have driven our country apart. I think all the celebrities died.

For me, personally, it’s been a particularly difficult year. I’ll tell some of those stories later. But it’s been painful. Stressful. Devastating, at times. There are a lot of things that I’m glad are behind me.

But here’s the thing: your problems won’t all go away tomorrow because you turned the page on a calendar. Maybe your next 12 months will be better. I hope they are. But they could be worse. There’s no guarantee that 2017 is any better.

Here’s the truth, though. The things you’ve been through in 2016, whether good or bad–or even really bad, have prepared you to meet the challenges that lie ahead. You have more experience than you ever have before. You’ve learned some things along the way. You’re smarter, better, stronger than you’ve ever been.

If you want 2017 to be better, make it better. Take time for yourself–to reflect on who you are, decide where you want to be, and make a plan to get there.

That’s a tough thing to do, sometimes. As healthcare professionals, we have all decided to put others ahead of ourselves. That decision sometimes comes at a great cost. We make sacrifices for our patients. We work long hours, miss family events, go without meals or bathroom breaks, lose sleep, and witness some of the most horrific scenes you could imagine. It’s physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining.

Taking time for yourself can feel selfish. But it isn’t. It allows you to be at your best for your family, your patients, and your coworkers. It provides you with the emotional energy you need to make it through difficult days. Or difficult years. And it helps to keep you healthy, so that you can continue to take care of everyone else.

I don’t know what that means for you. Maybe you need to back off on hours at work. Maybe you need to start exercising, quit smoking, eat better, or get more sleep. Maybe you need to find a therapist. Maybe you need to simplify your life by cutting back on activities and spending more time with those you love. Maybe you just need to stop letting the news tell you how to feel (or eliminate it entirely for a while).

Whatever it is, 2017 is your year. If you want it to be better, make it better.

To help you get started, I’ve developed a free life-planning resource specifically for healthcare professionals. You can use it to help you decide how to take better care of yourself, think through the things that are important to you, and make plans to achieve your goals. Get started by clicking here.

Happy New Year.

-Chad

 

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