Ah, New Year’s Resolutions. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, because we get a fresh start on everything. After all, it’s our “one” time of the year when we can recommit to our goals. But how good are we at making New Year’s Resolutions and keeping them?

Here, my top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that I encourage you to take on. Or get creative and make your own. And note: these have nothing to do with veterinary medicine!

  1. Better work-life balance
  2. 30 day goals
  3. Cut yourself some slack
  4. Get into fiscal order
  5. Read a (fun) book a month
  6. Cut back on alcohol
  7. Use your Fitbit
  8. Take the time to…self-care
  9. Drink 40 ounces of water a day
  10. Stop smoking
  1. Better work-life balance

I’m all for working hard (I’ll admit it – I’m a workaholic!) But sometimes we as veterinary professionals go beyond what typical professionals do (40-hour workweek, ha). It’s okay to say no to picking up extra shifts, if it means that you won’t burn out or sacrifice a much-needed weekend with your spouse, partner, or kid. It’s okay to wait a few hours before you call that pet owner right back. Work smarter, not harder. Tim Ferris gives some hints here.

  1. 30 day goals

Who out there can actually keep New Year’s Resolutions for a full year? No one. Instead, cut yourself a break and give yourself shorter timeframes for goals or projects.  After all, they say it takes anywhere between 21-66 days to create a new habit. I have a 30 day goal for each month. 50 pushups a day for one month (Check). Then 50 squats a day for one month (Check). Then 3-5 miles on the stationary bike every morning before work for one month (Check). Focus T25 for 1 month (Working on it). Set it. And do it. It literally takes less than 10 minutes, divided 1-2X/day.

  1. Cut yourself some slack

I finally learned to cut myself some slack. What if I can’t get all 50 pushups done in one day? What if I can’t meet my monthly goal to run 15 miles a month (Hey, start low, but at least it keeps you honest and accountable)? Only able to get 30 pushups in today? I can roll over my 20 pushups to the next day (which I don’t recommend, because it adds up quick). Another thing I’ve learned to cut myself some slack on? To accomplish 3 things on my to-do list a day instead of creating an insane, workaholic list of 8 things. Because it’s okay to cut yourself a little bit of slack. And most normal people don’t have 8 things on their to-do list.

New Years Resolution

  1. Get into fiscal order

We all know that we veterinarians or veterinary technicians are not in it for the money. That said, it’s so important that we be financial savvy so we can pay off our debt load. This year, commit to getting in fiscal order. If you need help, pay for a financial advisor if you need someone to keep you accountable. My tips? Cut back to that splurge on Starbucks to only once a week. Eat out only once a week. Carpool or bike to work to save on gas. Cut out your cable. Cancel your Netflix and use the library instead. I stick with Dilbert’s financial tips. Live by it. Basically, pay off your credit card debt. Get a will. And go max out your 401K and Roth. Now.

  1. Read a (fun) book a month.

I love to read and view it as great mental health time. So I’m dismayed to find that the average American only reads one book a year. Come on folks! This is for fun and gives you a way of turning off. And not staring at your smartphone constantly. Too busy to read? Try Audible.com or your public library instead and try a great book-on-CD (like Still Alice or Game of Thrones). I never thought I’d like audible books until I realized how much I’m in the car. And I like to run and listen. Or clean the house, cook dinner, and scoop the litter box while listening. (But I’m a multi-tasking freak that way). Stimulate your mind and check out the New York Times bestseller list and go visit your library. Not sure where to start? Try my top 3 books: City of Thieves, Me Before You, A Fine Balance. Not sure you can commit such a long book? Check out Serial podcasts instead (I mean, if you’re going to take time away from our VETgirl podcasts).

  1. Cut back on alcohol

I’m not a big drinker. After all, I’m Asian and lacking aldehyde dehydrogenase, so don’t do alcohol well. That said, so often we use alcohol as stress-relief. Cut back on alcohol for health purposes, as excessive drinking can affect the brain’s neurotransmitters in a bad way. Plus, why increase your waist line while simultaneously increasing your risk of heart disease, liver disease, stroke, and potential cancer?

  1. Use your Fitbit

I’ll admit it – I’m addicted to my fitness tracker wrist band (Fitbit®). Granted, it’s a really expensive pedometer (It’s worth the $100, as it’s actually an accelerometer, folks). I may not be as addicted as David Sedaris (Seriously. Hilarious. Read it here.), but I find that it motivates me to get my 10,000 steps in a day and take care of myself (and my dog) more. Ask for one for your birthday. And get out and walk!

  1. Take the time to…self-care.

The other day, I was rounding with one of the emergency doctors and said that I needed to take a biologically break. I was so slammed in the ICU and ER that day, I didn’t have time to eat (shoving 2.5 donuts in the mouth during duress didn’t count), drink or urinate during the previous 8 hours. Unhealthy, folks! Seriously, take the time to pee. And let your dog out once. And eat a granola bar by yourself for 10 minutes. Take time to take care of yourself. Splurge on that occasional massage or facial for self-care.

My tip? Ask yourself: Does this spark joy? If you’re wolfing down a bowl of cereal in front of your kitchen sink, it likely fails the self-care test. If whatever you’re doing doesn’t spark joy, fix it. Now.

  1. Drink 40 ounces of water a day.

Small steps, baby. You don’t need to save the Earth and pay off your loans all in 1 day. Cut yourself a break with some simple resolutions. Splurge on a BPA-Free water bottle and commit to drinking 40 ounces of water a day. Fill it before you start your day at the clinic and make sure you’ve chugged it before your shift is over. Because not only will it force you to hydrate and take biological breaks (mental health for a few minutes away!), but it’s better for your brain, skin and mental health.

  1. Stop smoking

Nothing grosses me out more than working with someone who reeks of smoke. It’s dirty. It’s expensive. And Dude, it causes cancer! Commit to cutting back and completely quitting this year. For your health (and wallet’s) sake.

11. Simplify

I read this great book about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. KISS. Simplify. Purge the junk. Create your environment. Donate your stuff away. After all, does it spark joy?

  1. Pingback: How you should live your veterinary life like you were in a hotel room | VETgirl Veterinary Continuing Education Blog

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