Accountability. An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. Accountability is the idea I am bringing with me into this new year of 2022. The year of 2021 brought with it major life changes that accumulated in a lot of stress, unhappiness, and ultimately some unhealthy coping. I couldn’t help but feel like a passenger in my life and I don’t want that feeling to continue. Instead of blaming and pointing fingers at circumstances around me I would like to take accountability for my life and the actions I choose to engage in. I cannot control the chaotic world around me, but I can have a say in how I react to the chaos.
The first area to concentrate on is my accountability to my health. I started the year by scheduling all of my appointments that I had been putting off. Therapy, dentist, annual wellness exams, physical therapy, etc. Then I made a plan to implement more movement into my days. I now have access to a full at home gym and it has felt really wonderful to be able to add in some running into my routine. As a former high level athlete I need the release of high energy workouts or long endurance sessions to keep me entertained and engaged. With more activity in place, nutrition and hydration come next. I have cut back significantly on my alcohol intake which is one of the highest priorities I have right now. And I am actually drinking at least the recommended 64oz of water a day. If you know me and my hydration intake, this is quite the miracle. I am trying to consistently get in the right amount of nutrients throughout the whole day. I am focusing on increasing my protein intake. I try to get around 9 hours of sleep at night. But it is something that I have to commit and stay accountable towards every day. In my past experience, it is easy to go a few days on top of everything but then if one area slips they all do. So how will I stay accountable to it? For the moment it is going to take a lot of practice but I am planning more and prioritizing more. I am being proactive in making sure my health is at center stage. Scheduling is crucial. As time goes on this initial rigidity will allow for more flexibility which of course is the end goal. Too much control can have hazardous consequences and so a mindful balance is needed. But as with anything else in life this balance takes trial and error. I think it is essential to take records of the wins or how the changes I am making today are impacting my tomorrow. My energy is up, my concentration is up, and it has really only been a couple weeks of some slight changes. Taking stock in how these routines help me overall make me want to continue to stay accountable. My overall goal will always strive to be accountable to my recovery and mental health. This is essentially what this whole blog entails but sometimes I need those little daily reminders of the big picture. Yes eating breakfast seven days a week might be uninteresting to most but it is a foundation for my success.
The second area is accountability to my family. I am starting this year with the intention to be more present. Be curious about the people around me and listen more to understand, not just to hear. Stay off my phone more and focus less on the outside world. Staying engaged and aware of global news is important but I think we can all agree at times it is too much. It has been too much for me lately and it is something I can take full accountability over to limit. Calling more often and staying involved in the lives of family far away. Learn more about our family origins and my ancestors. Being accountable to my family also includes accountability to my animals. Making sure they are healthy and get outside and run more. More beach trips and more mountain hikes. Longer snuggles and playtime at home. In regards to my relationship, I want to be more involved in hobbies that we both enjoy and spending more quality time together apart from the tv screen.
The third area is accountability to my work. The feeling of burnout is very high in a healthcare profession during a pandemic. The stress is very real when working with immunocompromised cancer patients daily. I have a caseload of patients I care for dearly and I do everything in my power everyday to try and keep them safe. With that said, in the past few months I have seen a great decline in my productivity. Working from home at times is great but carries it’s distractions and downfalls. I feel a lot more productive at work but the stress of exposure is also higher. Learning this balance is something I am still trying to do two years into this pandemic. The fatigue is real and I need to stay accountable and continue to strive to do my best work. With that said, I need to be accountable to myself to let myself rest while off of work. My goals are to work hard during the day and turn it off at night and on the weekends. I am grateful to work in a position that allows me this freedom. Work from home sometimes has blurred those lines and I need to stay accountable to realize I do my best work when I set my boundaries. When I see something that needs to be done, I want to do it now and not put it off for later. I would like to do more consistent work throughout the day instead of sporadic spurts that are a bit chaotic and have no flow. I always get the work done but I know it would be more enjoyable if the consistency was there. Clinical research isn’t the most consistent profession, but the routines I put forth daily help with the ups and downs and unexpected twists that happen. Pandemic, supply chain issues, drug shortages and more will continue to make the coming year a challenge, but I plan to stay accountable to those that matter most, my patients.
The fourth area is accountability to my living environment. I keep up with the dishes and laundry well enough but I want to be more accountable to organization this coming year. When I see something that needs to be put away, my goal is to do it when I notice it and not put it off. We are in the process of painting and making our current space more of our own style but we keep putting things off. A little here and there goes a long ways. We are starting with our storage space and I want to continue to work consistently and stop putting things off. I also want to simplify my living space and try and limit the amount of “things” strewn about. I don’t mind busyness or clutter but the things need to carry meaning. My significant other and I have moved so much in our lifetime that sometimes it feels like we never fully unpack and settle from place to place. I would like to put that into practice now so that when we do own our own home I am already accountable to making it our own.
The fifth area is my financial wellbeing. I plan to be more accountable to saving. It is a very large goal of mine to be completely debt free by the end of the year. I have worked through a lot of medical debt recently and I am proud of how far I have come. I have a little bit to go but just the thought of seeing the end of it makes me incredibly relieved. I also continue to grow my retirement and set myself up for a future of success around this area. In the past I have been fairly carefree about money and it has ended up costing me a lot. I want to be smarter around my financial decisions and at least know things like why I am subscribing to certain things and what things can go. I believe I can sacrifice a few more coffees and make them at home this year. On another note of financial well-being, I would like to raise more money for organizations that mean a lot to me. More to come on that later but I am considering at least four fundraisers this year. I had one last year and while it was small, it made me happy to contribute.
The last area is accountability to my creativity. Whether it be writing, painting, reading, etc, I plan to enrich my life with these activities. Already in the past week I have a seen a difference in my relaxing routine prior to bed when I add in reading. Coloring more often and just letting the mind wander is a great practice when the anxieties of the world creep in. I have no goals surrounding this blog or writing for public but I am increasing my personal writing again. My significant other even gifted me with some new fountain pens and a wide variety of inks to get me started. It feels rusty and too much like a “dear diary” list but it is a start and I know the more I write the more it will organically flow. That is one disappointment that I have from the past year is not writing more about it. It left me bitter and a bit broken and I have nothing to look back on that actually shows strength. That is why I would like to look back and explore the past year more but I am unsure if that will end up being blog content or not. I don’t want to box myself in surrounding this blog. I am not sure where I want to go with it or what it might end up being. Right now it is a practice in getting the rust off and exploring mental health in a broad sense. It likely will be a sort of public accountability towards the things above. Always strive to have people in your life that help you hold to your accountability. Friends, family, therapists, anyone who will hold space for your well-being.
I know this has been a long post and if you made it this far I hope there has been a spark of inspiration to write some things of your own that you want to stay accountable towards this year. I have small goals and resolutions, but the feeling and intent of this accountability feels stronger and helps me imagine a solid foundation to continue to build my life on.