Whether you think the past year flew by too fast or look to the New Year as a chance to make some positive changes in your life, the change of the calendar can bring some new feelings to the forefront.
As audiologists and speech-language pathologists, we look to improve outcomes for our clients, students and patients. Many of us feel overworked and under pressure to help make changes in the lives of the people we serve. Now’s a time to take stock of how to improve our own lives, so we can better prepare to help others.
Here are some tips that I used in the past few months to help me clear my mind and be the best clinician I can be.
Take action first.
It’s easy to talk about changes we want in our lives, but taking action to make that change is hard. We fret about the first step. We worry about making the right choice. All of these worries are valid and, at the same time, a little ridiculous. Action is its own reward, and in many ways inspires you to keep going. Even if the first step is a misstep, it can be a step in the right direction. What has been said about the journey of a thousand miles?
Think about the changes you want in your life, and then think about the first step. Take that step today—or tomorrow at the latest. The next step will be easier. If you’re looking to change jobs, for example, start your resume today. The next day, polish what you drafted and then start posting it and applying the day after. By the fourth day, you could reach out to old colleagues and send them a copy of the resume. Who knows where you will be by the end of the week?
Positive habits set foundations for other changes.
Keystone habits set the tone for other positive changes in your life. Simple things like making your bed or washing the dinner dishes daily start to accumulate over time. It’s not about jumping on the treadmill tomorrow and doing an hour-long workout, but more about the small wins you add to your life now. When these habits start to accumulate, they set you up for more positive changes. You can read more about the concept of keystone habits from writers such as Charles Duhigg and Louis Chew.
For instance, I recently began prepping materials differently, so I can be set for a week or two in advance for some of my groups. By the time those sessions happen, I’ve planned beyond the session. This leaves more time for the important work of differentiating my sessions to best reach the students.
Realize that life really is one moment at a time.
I know this sounds trite, but it can be one of the most truthful things you can remind yourself. Life is made up of one moment at a time. The choices you make in this moment set up what you do later. Think about what choices you make daily.
Choose to read a professional article instead of aimlessly perusing Facebook. Connect with a colleague instead of turning on the TV. Mentor a young professional instead of seeing what’s on Netflix tonight. Believe me, I get it, we all need downtime, but there are some choices worth making occasionally.
Your call to action.
We all make and then struggle to keep New Year’s resolutions. Small and consistent changes made any time of year can make a difference in our professional lives. By making some changes to improve ourselves, we can move toward further improving the lives of our clients, students and patients.
Dan Fitch, MA, CCC-SLP, works in schools and private practice. He blogs at Everything is Language and has consulted for AAC companies as well as presented on incorporating technology into school classrooms. He is a two-time ACE award recipient. firstname.lastname@example.org.