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The new year is upon us. A time for reflection and, for many of us, resolution. This is the time for getting to work on being our “best selves.”
I am not at all against self-improvement, but I do think that, collectively, we need to examine the way we set goals for ourselves. If we aren’t careful and intentional with the resolutions we make, then our positive efforts can lead to unintentionally negative outcomes.
I am a certified self-improvement addict, a relentless goal-setter, and I fell into the trap that many of us do. I confused “my best” with “the best.” Not understanding the difference set me up for a catastrophic and thoroughly humbling failure.
On the first day of medic school, each seat had an enormous stack of books at it. I looked at the pillar of knowledge that I was to be responsible for and panicked. All I could think about was how many patients were going to die if I couldn’t somehow cram all of it into my brain. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I made a mistake?
I resolved then and there that I would try harder at this than I had at anything else in my life. I would become the best paramedic. Ever. The perfect paramedic that knew it all and never made mistakes.
I got right on it. I finished at the top of my class. I pushed myself every day at work, on the medic unit, in the hospital, practicing, asking questions, always trying to reach that goal of Best.
I kept that up for nearly 20 years, and I became very good. My supervisors all told me I was the best paramedic they had ever worked with. My co-workers said the same, and they trusted every decision I made without question.
When people tell you something like that enough, you start to believe it. No matter how modest or grounded a person you think you are, you start to believe it. I welcomed all of that praise because, to me at least, it meant I had made it. All of that work and study had paid off. I had reached my goal and kept the resolution I had made all those years ago. I was the Best.
It was two in the morning. The engine crew had arrived right away and performed perfectly.
The patient’s heart was beating again. The police were there with the family keeping them out of the way and calm. I was the last paramedic on the scene. The last of seven to walk through the door.
Continue reading over at Yellow Springs News.