Doctors should do this to stick to their new year’s resolutions

By Physician Sense, for MDLinx
Published December 26, 2018

Key Takeaways

New Year’s resolutions tend to have short lifespans. Many people, doctors included, head into the new year with aspirations of losing weight, better time management, or making rest a priority. Like the terminally ill, resolutions tend to die after the holidays have passed.

How can doctors improve the New Year’s resolution morbidity rate among their ranks? It starts with being a bit more strategic with your approach. Here are some suggestions for keeping New Year's resolutions alive in 2019.

Focus on Systems, Not Goals for your New Year's Resolutions

This is a topic covered at length in James Clear’s new book, Atomic Habits, but you can go further in depth on this idea in this blog post. According to Clear, many of us are outcome-oriented. Doctors especially. 

Think about it. You’re treating a patient who has just undergone an appendectomy and they are borderline septic. Your goal is to stop the infection with the most effective antibiotic possible. You’re trained to think in these terms. But when it comes to your personal health, finances or time management, you need to instead focus on systems.

According to Clear, losers and winners have goals. There’s a confirmation bias inherent in this. We only hear about the winners who achieve their goals, not the losers who fail. But what do the winners have that the losers don’t? They have a process.

Let’s say your desired outcome is to lose 20 pounds in 2019. An admirable goal. But how will you accomplish it? You know you’re busy, don’t have time to meal prep and hate being in the gym.

Instead, build the system that will support your New Year's resolution. Block out 15 minutes of your lunch break for a doctor-friendly HIIT workout. Pay for a meal service, such as Blue Apron or HelloFresh. Invest time in finding a form of exercise that you actually enjoy.

By taking these steps and directing your energy at a process instead of a goal, you have positioned yourself to consistently do the work of self-improvement. 

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