If the stats are to be believed, just under half of you will make resolutions this New Year’s. For most of us, it’ll mark yet another year of ineffectual hand-wringing over our many loathsome defects of character.
For a significant percentage, however, this might just be the year we tackle them head on!
Regardless of your take on the utility-slash-futility of resolving to do anything (much less confronting a to-do list that resembles a communal reflex more than it does a heartfelt willingness to change), it’s also worth mentioning that New Year’s resolutions do more than help us mark time via unimpressive acts of ovine list-making: When taken seriously enough, they’re a great opportunity for reflection, too.
Consider this list below, devised primarily by way of veterinary reflection but also in the hope that some of you will feel inspired to take one or more of them on. I certainly hope I do.
1. Lose weight … with your dog.
According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38 percent of Americans make weight-related New Year’s resolutions. And given that those who do are more likely to succeed if they have a reason to take on a new activity, might I recommend walking your dog? (You have one, right?)
If you need further inducement, ask Dr. Phil Zeltzman, vet surgeon and fellow VPN columnist what he recommends. Better yet, buy his book: "Walk a Hound Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com). It’s even available as an ebook!
2. Be grateful for your job.
We have the world’s best job. We enjoy minimal unemployment. It’s a veritable luxury to be able to go to work and practice veterinary medicine every single day.
Given our gratitude, we should probably show it by doing at least one new thing that proves it every year: Get active with your local VMA. Sign up for a career day show-and-tell. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting an animal cause or event. Be the veterinarian you always wanted to be in all kinds of ways.
3. Ask for a raise.
Whenever I see the difference in salaries between men and women fresh out of school it makes me think we women tend to leave too much money on the table. Make up for it this year by asking for a raise. You’re worth it, right?
4. Step up your feline friendliness.
Cats are not small dogs and yet we expect them to live in a dog’s world every time they come to see us. Adopting cat-friendly practices doesn’t have to involve a whole redesign of your practice.
The most important aspects are way more about thinking in "cat”—and getting your staff to follow your lead—than about creating separate facilities, anyway.
For more info, check out the AAFP’s Cat Friendly Practice Program at Catvets.com.
5. Decrease your dependence on your suppliers.
We’re getting squeezed. But we don’t have to take it.
Raise prices on your professional services and stop competing with the big-box powerhouses on drugs and supplies. You’ll still have to stock the flea meds and heartworm stuff. But if you take my advice you won’t have to worry if your clients choose to pay your higher convenience price … or go elsewhere for a bargain.
6. Pick one practice-related bad habit and get rid of it.
We all have them. The difference is that some of us care that we do.
Pick your most noxious one and get started. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to keep trying.
7. Tackle one new learning project.
I start every year with a couple of conferences, which means I have the power to decide what I want to learn this year early on in the process.
I take the holidays to formulate a plan and formalize it when I make my conference decisions. It’s how I’ve always done my continuing education—in big gulps on one or two subjects. It might not work for you but this approach definitely has its pluses.
8. Start a blog!
Engaging more fully with veterinary medicine is much easier when you have a place to talk about it. I started by blogging, but you can just as easily do it by starting a Facebook page.
Perhaps writing in tiny bursts (á la Twitter), making six-second videos, or tweaking simple pics is more your style. You now have the power to choose your preferred medium. Or—better yet—invent your own.
What are you waiting for?
Dr. Khuly is a small animal practitioner in Miami and a passionate blogger at drpattykhuly.com.