Merry Christmas; and happy new year 2024!
A special post for a special time of year..
With 2023 coming to an end, I`m posting some reflections from the year
A bit cheesy, maybe. But I do believe it's always worth reflecting on the progress we've made towards the end of each year. Even if it's more minor progress. Small progress is still progress, as the adage goes. By reflecting, we can orient ourselves currently towards the goals we have for the following year; maybe even the following 5 years, depending on how clear your sense of direction for your life is. So that's what I`m going to do in this post. It will be a little different from my usual style of writing; It will be a bit more focused on reflecting on the past year and what I`ve learned that will hopefully provide value to you
So with that, what is there to learn from 2023? If anything, at all?
Well; the first thing is that I`ve formed a very strong sense of community across the various social media platforms I use. And although the majority of people may not articulate this; being able to identify communities we fit into is so important in many if not all aspects of life I did this by applying an extremely wise piece of advice I was given by someone I really respect; find people who have similar strengths to you. That really made it clear how to surround myself with like minded people. Not only did that advice help me now; I already know it's going to be invaluable as I move through the rest of my life. I won't have to worry or wonder who I`ll get along with easily; or which groups of people I'll easily relate to. I already know the hallmarks. The reason I say this is not to talk excessively about myself; it's so you can apply this knowledge to your life too.
And that actually leads me to the next section;
I was talking about strengths. I`ve always been a strong communicator; I`ve been told that a lot; so I've identified it as a key strength of mine. The next question was; could I integrate that with an interest of mine to work on something really fulfilling? After reflecting on that; I happened on the issue of vaccine hesitancy. How exactly did I do that? Thinking back on my experience in college; I remembered feeling really passionate about an essay on HPV vaccination I'd written in my third year, So (since vaccine hesitancy is partially a communication issue) I felt I could use my communication skills to write about promoting vaccine uptake. I also really started thinking about why this particular issue appealed to me so much. It's because I really enjoy knowing I'm having a positive impact on the lives of as many people as possible. Vaccines affect the lives of all 7 billion people on the planet - so what better issue to contribute my time and energy to? It also really helped me solidify what my own values are. Again, something you can also apply to your life.
So, what else?
I have also had to change how I engage with my interests so that it aligns with my strengths. What I mean it; It's definitely OK to be persistent with goals; that said, sometimes you have to change your strategy. That sounds a bit abstract, so I'll explain. My key interest is health science, and my strength is communication and empathy. So I combined those into writing these articles. To break that down a little more; what are your strengths? Well, it helps to think about what environments you`re most comfortable in. Is it a quiet environment, like me? Then think about what work is conducted in a quiet environment. On the contrary, are you more comfortable in pressurized, high-octane environments? Then the work you do, the activities you take part in and the people you engage with should reflect that. Basically, try to center your lifestyle around your strengths. It took me 24 years to realize and articulate this, so I'm sharing in the hope that it will benefit you.
These things combined, all do take time to process, understand and accept. They did in my case anyway. Of course, many people may intuitively understand and accept their strengths; although they may not articulate it exactly the same way I have here; or they may need it to be communicated to them in a different style or by a different person for the ideas to resonate with them. Some people may have understood these principles sooner than me; others maybe later in their lives. For others; it can be difficult to even articulate what they`re experiencing; let alone do the work required to make the changes needed to improve their quality of life.And of course; like every issue, not everyone is interested in reflection, self development and so on. Some are simply content with their lives and themselves with the circumstances they are in. And that's completely OK!
That said, when you understand and accept your strengths and values, making decisions suddenly becomes a lot easier. You can direct your time, energy, and money towards activities, events, and people that you value and align with your strengths. That said, I`m of course aware that the specifics will vary from person to person, but the general principle I`ve found to be true; both for myself and other people I've observed.
Now of course, I`m not saying anything is ever guaranteed and I wouldn't tell anyone how to live their lives. I`m also not saying this applies to everyone or will work for everyone. It's just that (in my experience), this is what I`ve done to increase my quality of life to the highest extent possible. On another level, this might simply simulate some self reflection for some readers - and hopefully my experiences and what I`ve learned can help them to some extent; ;regardless where in their lives they might be. If the end result is undesirable or unexpected; at minimum one knows that they did everything they possibly could; and that's genuinely worth something. Maybe even worth a lot, depending on the type of person you are. At least that would be my perspective.
So, the next obvious question I think many people are asking themselves right now
What's next for 2024? What lessons can be taken forward?
Well, my main goal is to continue working on vaccine hesitancy and benefitting people's lives to whatever extent I possibly can. It isn't simply a luxury topic, and I'm not just pontificating pointlessly here. It's a real issue that's really impacting many people's lives around the world. It always has and always will. I'm hoping to really continue connecting with people and continue establishing an audience that way. Building a blog audience is really about building relationships, and that's really the main principle I work off when marketing my blog. Building a community would probably be another way to phrase it. Since building relationships is so fundamental to every aspect of life; it's a skill definitely worth developing in the coming year. I'm not an authority or anything on this; I'm just sharing some of my own thoughts and experiences.
So I hope to continue building an audience by building a community. And like in person, that takes time, effort and consistency. It's not necessarily easier or quicker just because it's online. That's regardless of what online platform or platforms one might use ie. Facebook, twitter, and so on. It's still establishing a rapport with your audience. We live in a culture that prioritises “instant” everything - instagram, instant food, delivery, and instant programmes. Now of course that's not necessarily a bad thing - it makes almost every aspect of life more efficient. And that allows society to progress. However, there's a flip side to that. It means that we've become accustomed to having everything instantly. However everything meaningful in life (ie. career, friendships, relationships) can take years or even decades to establish. There are many reasons for that; including that only a small minority of people we meet in our lives will remain in them. With that in mind, it tends to take quite a lot of trial and error (and if I'm honest, a bit of luck) before we meet people who we really resonate with and share common values with. The 80/20 rule applies here; 20% of effort gives 80% of our results. That doesn't just apply to business/career, but to social life and every other aspect of life too. Further, even when we do meet that 20%, the dynamics of those relationships will fluctuate over time. Due to that, it can take time to calibrate how we engage with specific people.
Building anything sustainable is always a long term process, and I`m going to approach my work accordingly. Granted, sometimes success comes very quickly and is sustained. However, this isn't common. It is during the process of building something that we learn how to sustain it. And that's not necessarily always a smooth linear process. In fact I`d argue that it's almost never a smooth linear process for the majority of people. Most aspects of life are iterative. Meaning they slowly improve as you learn what the most important things to work on are and what you can discard (nobody can do everything). It's not always easy to figure out these things at first glance though. It can take some time and experience to think slightly more deeply about our circumstances and how we might partially or completely change them; or even if we're happy and don't want to change them at all. It can take a long, long time to reach that level of self understanding; if one even reaches that level of self understanding at all.
That said; it isn't simply about cognitively understanding our own strengths and weaknesses. It's also about accepting them on an emotional level too; and emotional processing is much more difficult than simply noting and observing our strength and weakness profiles. The former can be done but the latter can be much much more difficult. In my view that's where many people struggle. The point is that understanding and accepting our own strengths and values helps us make good decisions in every aspect of life. What we want can certainly change and evolve to some degree over time. However even if this does, my experience is that our core strengths and values will be common to everything we pursue. Adhering to our strengths in everything we do makes us much more efficient and emotionally stable (although it's likely that those two things contribute to each other). As a result, it makes us much more likely to succeed. Not guaranteed to succeed, of course, but more likely.
For example; I enjoy knowing that my work has a positive impact on the lives of as many people as possible. I like having a larger scale impact. That`s what motivates me to write and share blog posts for both my own and other websites. Now of course everyone has different reasons for pursuing their chosen careers and interests/hobbies. It's just important to have a “why” when you're investing valuable time, energy and effort into a pursuit. And if that reason is; ``well I'm just exploring options' ' that`s a completely valid reason. “It's just fun” is another valid reason. You might still be at the stage in life where you`re exploring new things. You might be recalibrating your life. That said, it doesn't have to be a deep elaborate reason. Just once the reason is there, that's enough in my own view.
Of course, that's not to say that this will solve all the challenges one is facing. One will never come to a point in their life where they`re not facing a set of challenges. And this took me a long time to realise and accept. But it's not about getting to a point where you`re not facing any challenges. It's about knowing that you can navigate them, and you only develop this ability through experience. One eventually develops a skillset that allows them to at least address challenges to whatever extent they can, if not solve them. That allows one to go through life with more contentment and confidence. When one is focusing on improving a particular aspect of their life; let's take a career for example. The more jobs one experiences; the more one refines their skills, talents, and interests, and the more one starts to iterate towards the best career for them personally. That ideal scenario will vary between people depending on what they prioritise, their ambitions, the people and environment they work best in among a huge variety of other things. Keeping in mind, of course, that all of these can change over time.
With that, those are some thoughts I had in 2023 that I thought might be somewhat helpful to some of my readers. Again, I`m not an expert, I`m just sharing some experiences and thoughts.
So that was probably way too long for some people to read (but, you know, the Google algorithm likes long articles), so I'll summarise. A TLDR, if you will. Understand your strengths and that will lead you to your values and the lifestyle you want to live. I hope my insight will help other people. Next year, I hope to continue to grow my audience and research and continue to positively impact lives. Of course, there are always going to be variables one can`t control and things that are going to happen that one can`t predict. However eventually one reaches a point in life where they have developed a skill set that allows them to address challenges, if not solve them. I`l sum up with a single quote - "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin. I think that`s a mantra we would all do well to live by in 2024, and in all the years to come.
I wish each and every one of you a prosperous 2024, and all the years to come.
For more interesting discussion; check out my other articles https://youmeandvaccines.ie/blog-you-me-and-vaccines-ireland-communication-on-vaccinations.html
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