The new year often brings reflections on the past and resolutions for the future. For cardiac arrest survivors, this reflection carries profound weight. Staring mortality in the face brings life into sharp focus – you have been granted an unexpected second chance. How will you use it? This is a pivotal opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities and perhaps reinvent yourself.
Assessing the Past
Looking back at the years gone by can be sobering. As a survivor myself, I recall the pain of missing out on months of life during recovery. Coming so close to death highlighted all my unfinished business – unfulfilled dreams and time wasted on things that didn’t matter.
Hindsight brings clarity to lost chances.
Recalling missed opportunities and unhealthy habits may fill you with regret. However, be gentle with yourself. In the moment, our choices seem reasonable. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and celebrate successes, however small. Reflection should inspire positive change, not shame. Letting go of regret and self-judgment is key to moving forward.
Visualising the Future
With a new perspective, freshly grasped from death’s grip, the future seems full of potential. I’ve seen people completely transform their lives after cardiac arrest. Facing one’s mortality is a powerful motivator for change.
Allow yourself to daydream – if you survived this, what else might be possible?
Envision the life you would lead if limitations didn’t exist – pursuing long-held ambitions, spending more time with loved ones, travelling the world. This idealised version of your future may not be entirely achievable, but it provides inspiration and direction.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a tool that could help you achieve this? Well, there is…
The Year/Life Compass
YearCompass is a FREE tool (booklet) that helps you reflect on the year and plan the next one. With a set of carefully selected questions and exercises, YearCompass helps you uncover your patterns and design the ideal year (or life?) for yourself.
For example, it makes you think about the following things…
1. Assessing the Past Year
- What were your most significant accomplishments and challenges in the last year?
- Who or what had the most influence on you?
- What are you most grateful for and proud of?
2. Envisioning the Year Ahead
- If limitations didn’t exist, what would your ideal upcoming year look like?
- What are your priorities and goals for the next year?
- What word defines the year ahead for you?
3. Celebrating Milestones
- What were the most memorable joyful moments of this past year?
- What made these moments so special?
4. Practicing Self-Care
- How will you pamper yourself regularly in the coming year?
- What morning routine will you implement?
- How will you reward your successes?
5. Focusing on Relationships
- Who are the people that uplifted you this past year?
- How will you strengthen your connections with loved ones?
- What communities or groups can you engage with more?
Thinking and answering the questions allows you to learn from your mistakes, celebrate your victories, and set out a path you want to walk on. All you need is a quiet few hours and the booklet.
Whilst the YearCompass is not designed explicitly for our situation, it provides an excellent framework for cardiac arrest survivors (or co-survivors) seeking reinvention. Here are some of the key points that can help you learn and improve:
- Review your life/calendar– what events held significance? What mattered most?
- Note your accomplishments, challenges, and influences – how did you grow?
- Give thanks – who and what are you grateful for?
- Forgive yourself and others – let go of grudges weighing you down.
- Visualise your ideal future – imagine if limitations didn’t exist.
- Clarify your priorities – what is non-negotiable for happiness?
- Set manageable goals – small steps towards your vision.
- Reward successes – celebrate progress.
- Connect with loved ones – nourish relationships.
- Love yourself – you have survived and are worthy.
With clear priorities and achievable goals spelt out, you can transform adversity into opportunity.
Let this be the moment for change where you begin truly living!
The odds of surviving cardiac arrest are slim, yet you defied them. You now have a second chance to identify what matters most and live accordingly. With small, incremental steps in line with your values, transformation becomes possible.
Success requires balancing ambition with sustainability.
In adversity lies opportunity.
Let your second chance at life be the catalyst you need to become who you wish to be – pursue forgotten passions, prioritise self-care, and nourish relationships. Create a life worth living, not just more years to your life. If surviving death against the odds is possible, anything is!
After our first meet-up in February 2015, I realised I was not alone. It was the first time since my cardiac arrest the previous year that I had spoken face-to-face with someone who had experienced what I had. This was also true for my wife, who also happened to be my lifesaver. From that meet-up, the idea of SCA UK was born. Since then, we have achieved a considerable amount, primarily providing information, resources and support to others in a similar situation but also raising the profile of survivorship and the need for better post-discharge care. We are starting to get traction in this, and with the formation of the charity, I genuinely believe we have a bright future ahead and will make a significant difference in the lives of many who join our ranks.