It is now 2021. The year we have all been waiting for. 2020 was one of the collectively hardest years in memory, but we can all take so much away. Let’s take the lessons of the past 365 days to make the next 365 full of progress, happiness, and success. Here are a few of my New Year’s Resolutions that I have made for both professional and personal growth. They are applicable to all medical students as well. Join me, and let’s make 2021 OUR YEAR!
Personal Quiet Time
This year I will be taking a dedicated 5-10 minutes daily for some personal quiet time. For me, this will most likely be in the form of prayer with my early morning coffee. Personal quiet time can be used for visualization of the day, reflection, meditation, or prayer. All are excellent ways to refresh the mind, settle the nerves, and refocus your energy. There is even science1 to back this up2.
Improve Self-Directed Learning
Be on the lookout for a full post on this subject coming soon. Self-directed learning is an imperative skill in medicine. It looks different for everyone and requires creativity to sustain. My resolution for 2021 is to take 5 minutes each day to read on a topic and write down (or type in my phone) something I learned. I have a list already going in my notes app of what I’ve learned from each day. By keeping the reading to 5 minutes, the learning is digestible. I won’t overwhelm myself and hate it so much I quit the practice one month in. If anything, I’ve already found the short periods are heightening my curiosity. Other methods of self-directed learning include medical podcasts (I love listening to case-discussions while driving), discussions with colleagues, textbooks, YouTube, etc. The key is to find a sustainable way to gain knowledge each day that feels easy and nonintrusive on your already hectic life.
Maintain Professional Relationships
Keeping in touch with professional contacts is something I am quite bad at. There are so many professors, attendings, colleagues, etc. that have been immensely helpful to me. But I have done so little to keep open lines of communication with them. It is difficult to have a mentor if you don’t communicate with any. My resolution for 2021 is to maintain better communication with these individuals. It takes little effort to send an email containing life or career questions/updates, an article you think they’d find interesting, or an invitation to a cup of (virtual) coffee. Communication is key to any relationship; professional relationships are no exception.
Knock Off One To-Do List Item Each Day
When you are working your tail off each day, whether it is studying for exams, Step 1, clerkships, or sub-I, getting home to relax and unwind is a major milestone each day. And some days, that is all that can be done, which is just fine. But my resolution for 2021 is to whittle away at my ever-growing “To-Do” list by completing one small task when I get home. For 3 straight weeks my wife watched me snooze the same 8pm daily alarm to remind me to finally complete one particular 15 minute task I was dreading. I don’t want that in 2021. Rather than immediately sinking into the couch, I will work on that article, clean that toilet, bathe the dog, reply to those emails, organize those bills. I’m not out here trying to be some kind of busy-body who never relaxes. My goal is simply to take a few extra minutes each day to do one more productive thing. I found in 2020 that my days off were far less enjoyable when I spent them catching up on everything I pushed off during the week. In 2021, I will finish more of those things during the week. This will increase my life efficiency and allow for more restorative and enjoyable days off.
Take some time to write down your resolutions for 2021. Join me and the rest of the team at Med Student Edge in a great year ahead!
Back to more resources on creating your edge.
References for Further Reading:
- Sampaio CV, Lima MG, Ladeia AM. Meditation, Health and Scientific Investigations: Review of the Literature. J Relig Health. 2017 Apr;56(2):411-427. doi: 10.1007/s10943-016-0211-1. PMID: 26915053.
- Anderson JW, Nunnelley PA. Private prayer associations with depression, anxiety and other health conditions: an analytical review of clinical studies. Postgrad Med. 2016 Sep;128(7):635-41. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2016.1209962. Epub 2016 Jul 22. PMID: 27452045.