The new year provides an opportunity for each of us to reflect on lessons learned in the past 12 months and to reset life goals. I sometimes ponder how long it takes to arrive at the point where we avoid making choices that lead us to the same uncomfortable place. They may involve neglecting to take care of ourselves, failing to set and follow through on goals, or responding poorly to situations where people have hurt us. Whatever the case, the result is the same—an endless walk on a “hamster wheel” that goes nowhere.
For me, this past year has brought increased awareness of how quickly time is passing and how easy it is to not make the most of the time we have. I remember my beloved grandmother who firmly believed that taking time for granted is an irreversible mistake. By the time we realize our mistake, we find ourselves on the other side of an event that has disrupted our foundations. Clearly, we cannot stop time or reverse events that have already occurred.
Tragic world events of 2015 remind us all that we cannot take life for granted. Time is a gift we should use for good, not for engaging in unproductive or destructive activities. Perhaps you are among those who pledged at the beginning of 2015 to use your talents and gifts to improve lives around you. Or you made a commitment to exercise more or eat better. If you’re like most, the result has been a mixed bag of successes and failures. The point is, we often find ourselves pivoting away from life-improving goals toward places of familiarity that do not move us forward.
How do we stay engaged in working toward goals that move us forward? We push the reset button every day! Each day, we resolve to be our best, fully committing ourselves to excellence in all we do, whether it’s exercise, work, developing friendships, or nurturing family relationships. Like you, I have learned many lessons over the years. One is, if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t improve the lives of those around me.
As you ponder what you want to accomplish in 2016, remember to invest in yourself so you can be that change agent who positively impacts the lives of others.
Christopher Lance Coleman, PhD, MS, MPH, FAAN, is Fagin Term Associate Professor of Nursing and Multicultural Diversity and associate professor of nursing in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Nursing.He is senior fellow in the Center for Public Health Initiatives at UPenn and Institute on Aging Fellows in the Family and Community Health Division, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine at UPenn. He is also the author of Man Up! A Practical Guide for Men in Nursing
, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.