A woman is looking at the seasons changing and having opportunities in her mind.

New Year, New Me

Ha, kidding. I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions, not just because most people make a list of unattainable and unsustainable goals, but because it’s too limiting.

Is timing everything?

New Year’s varies across cultures (though Jan 1st is pretty universally accepted as the start of a New Year). There’s the Chinese New Year and Islamic years are also on a different schedules. Who says I have to wait until January first to change my life? I can make changes at any point in time even starting today. And that’s exactly what I’ve been up to, but I started before New Year’s of course.

See, the last year of medical school is really special. Not only am I approaching graduation and being Dr. Halimat Olaniyan, but there’s also a level of freedom and amount of free time that is unprecedented in medical training. We get nearly every weekend off, get home early and don’t have to study when we get there, and even have months allotted for time off for vacation or interviews or whatever. It has been heavenly.

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Honestly, it’s a dream for anyone with sickle cell to have this much free time and flexibility. It’s to the point that I don’t know what to do with myself and all my extra free time. So, I decided to use this time to accomplish some of the goals and dreams I’ve put up for so long.

My experience with resolutions

Now don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve definitely made New Year’s resolutions. My mom and I put together a list of prayers we’d like answered in the Islamic New Year, while my best friend and I reflect on our wishes for the more widely accepted New Year’s. But those resolutions never last. It’s just not reasonable to expect to magically be able to do all these things tomorrow just because it’s a New Year.

Avoiding burnout

Now, don’t get me wrong. I really believe in the power of resetting and that we can do anything we put our minds to. But it takes hard work, focus, and dedication to do that. If you attempt to take on more than is feasible, you’re just asking to get burned out.

This is something I’ve really had to be mindful of with sickle cell and my anxiety – why beat myself up more than my body already naturally does? No. I wanted to be intentional this year and I didn’t want to be limited by the arbitrary confinements of 2023. My New Year, what I am proclaiming as the best year of my life, started after I passed the last test of medical school and I hope it never ends.

Hope and possibilities

But realistically speaking, the concept of a new year – the hope and possibilities just the thought of a the new year brings – is really important. It’s freeing to believe your problems are stuck in the past and that you get to be a whole new person this year. But it can also be dangerous, especially if you have a chronic illness, if you treat each year as a separate entity.

It’s so important to reflect on your past – what went wrong and right – to better prepare for you future. In my case, to learn how to keep taking better care of myself. Because the truth is, I'm changing and getting better every single day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Sickle-Cell.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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