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- 1. Reflect on the past year
- 2. Think about what your future (most likely) holds
- 3. Brain-dump possible goals for the year
- 4. Do a critical review
- 5. Set yourself up for success
Last year around this time I tried to help you prep for the new year with resolutions for medical professionals. This year, I’m helping you get the most out of the upcoming year with my best advice on how to establish your professional goals for the year. Career goals for doctors vary widely, but these five steps are relevant to just about everyone.
Why spend time each year establishing career goals as a physician? It makes for a productive year that drives you closer to your long-term goals.
It’s so easy to get into the grind and fall into the trap of “working for the weekend.” If this happens, the entire year can go by and all you’ll have to show for it is one year’s salary. One year’s salary for a physician is nothing to scoff at. But what if you could end the year that and:
- one year’s effort at getting a business off the ground,
- one year’s knowledge from learning a new subject, one year’s experience with a new side hustle, or
- one year’s dedication to a cause you care deeply about?
Here’s how to get started on an ultra-effective, super-fulfilling professional life in the new year.
1. Reflect on the past yearOn the surface, spending time on reflection may seem like a step backwards. But forcing yourself to admit the not-so-great parts can help you avoid repeating these. And allowing yourself to bask in the successes of the past year will assist you in having more of these in the upcoming year. A sample of questions you might consider asking yourself:
- What was my greatest accomplishment in the past year?
- What did I enjoy the most in my work and professional activities?
- What activities were the most financially worthwhile?
- What did I spend time on that aligned with my values, and what didn’t align?
2. Think about what your future (most likely) holdsOf course we can’t predict the future. Stuff happens. Life happens. But I’m a firm believer that planning and preparing set us up to be “lucky” and for things to go the way we want them to more times than not. So take a broad look at your schedule and obligations for the upcoming year.
- Are you expecting any big work changes – promotions, restructurings, layoffs?
- What changes to your personal life or your family members lives may impact your professional endeavors?
- What commitments have you made that deserve your time and effort next year?
3. Brain-dump possible goals for the yearWrite down all your potential goals for the year relating to work, your career, and professional activities. Big ones and small ones. Perhaps there are a few you could accomplish in a single weekend if you really hunkered down. While others may take you the better part of the year or longer. (I’m not too concerned about the difference between goals, objectives, and outcomes in this case. This is really just an exercise to help yourself have a truly prosperous year when it comes to your career. “Goals” here is used somewhat loosely.) Brain dumps can get messy. For some people, this is perfect in order to let the creative juices flow. Others, though, require organization to think straight. If this is you, break down your brainstorm into categories. Your groupings can include goals related to a few or all of these:
In this step, you can write down anything that comes to mind. It’s okay if they’re unrealistic or if they’re overly simplistic. This is the time to explore your ambitions. It’s the stage at which you can get down on paper the wide-ranging thoughts about your career that may have been floating around in your head in the past few months.