Wrapping Up 2020 - A Personal Reflection

As 2020 comes to a close, I wanted to share some of my thoughts from the year. What a time it has been. First off...thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has read my work and followed me along this ride. I took a jab at this writing thing in May and it has been such a life-giving process in so many ways. By the end of the year, we'll have hit over 100,000 views on Medium which is mind-boggling. This is all thanks to people like you who are committed to learning and pushing wellness education forward! If you haven't taken a peak at my blog on Medium, you can check it out here. I'd like to say we have a damn good time over there.

It's also been so fun to have my own space here at DavidLiira.Kin. I'm so grateful that people will give up time to invest in their health and wellness. I'm whole-heartedly committed to producing trustworthy, evidence-based content for y'all well into the future. We're so desperately in need of honest voices on this overwhelming, confusing sea of information that is the internet.

I'm planning for so many great things in 2021. This is just the start!

As my writing is mostly educational in nature, I thought it would be nice to step outside of my box and reflect on more of a personal note. Obviously, this year has been confusing/challenging/exciting/exhausting/[insert your adjective here]. It only seems right to take a moment and pause. I'd encourage you to do the same. Without further ado, here are three lessons I've learned from this past year.

Three Lessons From 2020

1) Saying 'I don't know' is a strength, not a weakness.

It is often humbling to realize just how little I know after four years of post-secondary. There are often times when I feel as if I have to 'fake it till I make it' to get through. What I've begun to realize, however, is that the honest confession of 'I don't know' says a lot about a person. It shows confidence, maturity, and honesty. It shows respect for a field that takes years to become an 'expert' in, and even then, there is always more to learn.

I should mention that tone is everything here. You can brush someone off and say, "Well flip, I don't know", or you can do the right thing and respond with, "That's a great question. I honestly don't know the answer, but let me do my best to find one". The key with all of this is to let that knowledge gap drive you to become more educated and competent in your position. Although this happens frequently in the workplace, it truly applies to all areas of life. I have a fear of looking silly and stupid because I don't know enough. Fortunately, as I've learned to be free in telling people that 'I don't know', I've found that this irrational thought has died down a lot.

To summarize...

No, you're not incompetent for not knowing everything. In fact, confessing it with honesty reveals the quality of your character.

2) Systems over motivation.

I read Atomic Habits this year, and it inspired me to shift my paradigm on what makes good habits stick. Whenever I'd flunk a health-related goal in the past, I'd blame it on my lack of motivation and poor discipline. Now, I realize that I was simply failing to set myself up for success in the first place.

"Motivation won’t get you where you want to go. It’s that simple. It may get you up for the first two weeks of January, but it will surely shrivel when the going gets tough and you’re leaning on your emotions to pull you through."

We get so caught up in goals and resolutions, especially around this time of year. While they can be positive, I fear that we often reach for the stars but fail to assemble the rocketship. Here's a quick outline of the difference between the two:

If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal might be to build a million-dollar business. Your system is how you test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns.

If you’re an athlete, your goal might be to win the championship. Your system is how often you practice, what you do in the gym, and your method for studying the tape.

Both of these individuals have lofty goals, but it's their systems that will deliver. In reality, all of us have big dreams for life. The 'aha!' moment for me was when I realized that my intentions to be great don't always correlate to the final product. Sure, you should set benchmarks to guide you, but remember to prioritize your systems to get you there.

I used to watch motivational videos every once in a while when I was procrastinating from studying. Although they helped, leaning on them wasn't sustainable. After graduating, I spent some time learning how to study. After finding what works for me (active recall, spaced repetition, etc....), I now genuinely enjoy the process and have found much better results. Fine-tuning my system made all the difference.

Here's some food for thought:

1. Winners and losers have the same goals. (Do goals really set you apart?)

2. Goals are at odds with long term progress. (You’ve achieved it, now what?)

3. Goals restrict your happiness. (Does happiness have to be conditional?)

As we look to 2021, consider ditching your goal/resolutions and start constructing sustainable systems instead!

3) Psychological air is everything.

Seek to understand before being understood. This is lesson number three. Psychological air is the phenomenon that empathetic listening provides humans with a chance to exhale emotionally. Only once that breath has been taken, can we have the capacity to grow and mature in certain areas. In other words, before you develop a professional (or private) relationship with someone, listen to their story.

Health care is an art. There's no doubt about it. There may be 100 different solutions to a problem, and they can all be correct. What I've discovered, however, is that there's only so far we can go before poor trust/rapport gets in the way. Now, I'm not saying that you need to know every details of one's life, but make it clear that you're willing to invest in their story and hear them out.

This is a great example of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In order to achieve self-actualization (working towards optimal health), you need to feel protected and loved first. In a health-care setting, nothing can fulfill this better than empathetic listening. Like lesson number one, this can translate to many of our relationships. By nature, we’re all storytellers. It’s how we’ve passed down our culture for millennia. What people are craving for right now is the opportunity to share their own narrative. Listen in!

"Learning to stand in someone's shoes, to see through their eyes...that's the quality that can change the world." - Barack Obama

Ok, that's all from me! Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported me in the start of this journey. Let's all continue to strive to put health and wellness conversations at the forefront of our schools, workplaces, and communities as a whole. In doing so, we can begin the transition from tertiary prevention to primary prevention. From sickness to health. From hospital beds to yoga mats.

Thanks everyone! See you in 2021!