Billy Boland: The trouble with resolutions…

billy_bolandAt this most reflective time of year, I found myself in a conversation last week about New Year’s resolutions. Thinking about my most and least successful attempts it occurred to me that I’d foolishly blogged my resolutions for 2015 around this time last year. With dread, I clicked through to see what I’d committed to. New Year’s Eve 2014 was a distant memory, and as someone who likes to close the loop on work, I was a little unsettled at how I’d taken my eye off something I’d seen as really important a year ago. Painful though it may be, here is my self-assessment of how I’ve done:

1) Maintain the momentum in my development—I’d finished the Bevan programme at the NHS leadership academy and I was looking to see how to keep my development progressing. We kept up with the social media project #ReOTD for a while, and got the project shortlisted for a patient safety award, but ultimately we put it on ice. It was delivered solely by the goodwill and energy of people involved with it, and took up increasing amounts of time which became unsustainable for me. We looked at ways of keeping it alive through working formally with an organisation but didn’t get anywhere with that, so we had to take the hard decision to let it rest. I went through a time of feeling a little lost over the summer, not quite sure where I was headed next. I spent the latter half of the year regrouping and became re-energised for the future (see below).

2) Living NHS Values—I can’t honestly say I’ve made conscious effort with this. However, I’d like to think I’ve now achieved “unconscious competence.” I can argue I’ve had progress in each of the six domains. *brain whirrs in anticipation of appraisal*

3) Keep reflecting—things didn’t look good when the #ReOTD project came to an end, but I pulled it out of the bag by setting up a reflective practice group at work. We use it to reflect on our clinical work—to think about what went well, what we could have done differently and what we have learnt. The initial feedback from colleagues looks good, and I have certainly got a lot out of it. It has helped me to stay grounded and connected with colleagues. From a leadership perspective, it looks like I’ll be starting some coaching in the near future. Though I’ve trained in coaching myself and coached others, I’ve not yet had a period of one to one coaching over a number of sessions myself. I’m looking forward to getting my own space to think through some stuff that is important to me.

All in all not bad I don’t think. This isn’t the way I imagined I would set out to achieve these resolutions, but a year is a long time and it’s important to adapt. Reflecting further—I think at another time in my life I might have said I’d failed at each of these given where we are with #ReOTD. But from a development point of view I’ve come to value the learning I get out of projects as much as the projects themselves, and can better appreciate my own journey. In NHS Leadership Academy terms, I would say I am more “reflexive”—I guess more evidence that I’ve made some progress with my resolutions.

So if you’ve made resolutions for 2016 and already feel like you’ve flunked them don’t give up. You may end up achieving them over the course of the year without realising.

Billy Boland is a consultant psychiatrist and associate medical director for quality and safety at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust. You can follow him on Twitter @originalbboland

Competing interests: I declare that I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and I have no relevant interests to declare.