New ideas for achieving goals

The beginning of a new year brings with it the opportunity for a fresh start and renewed commitment. We make resolutions, but often fail to create a corresponding action plan that will help us reach those goals. By summer, most of us have all but forgotten what it was that we were so excited about changing or accomplishing back in the dark, short days of January. Can 2008 be different? Could this be the year that you succeed in reaching an important professional or personal goal? Very possibly. Consider a few new ideas.

Only set one goal

It is tempting at the beginning of a new year to make a long list of everything we want to achieve—lose weight, work out regularly, get a handle on finances, keep up on medical journals, volunteer at the homeless shelter, start dating again, read the classics. Are you exhausted just reading the list? Imagine setting one important goal this year and really committing to it. What would your one goal be? What one goal, if achieved, has the potential to improve the quality of your life in many other areas? Or what is one goal that would simply be a thrill to reach?

Understand your motivation

One reason people fail to reach their goals is that they base them on a "should" instead of on something personally meaningful. "I should lose some weight" or "I should get out and be more social" are a couple of examples. "Should" according to whom? Before declaring your one big goal for this year, take time to really understand why the goal matters—to you. If you cannot come up with a reason to work on the goal that motivates you beyond the "should" factor, ditch it and choose another.

Make the goal specific

This one you have probably heard before, but it bears repeating: A goal should be measurable and include a deadline. Look back at the exhausting list above and note that most of the so called "goals" are not very specific. Perhaps "Get a handle on finances" should read "Interview and hire a financial planner by April 1" or "Pay off all credit card debt and add $10K to my retirement plan by September 30."

Map out a plan

For the sake of example, let us say that your one big goal is to increase your income by 20% over last year. How are you going to get there? First, look at where you have been, where you are now, and where you need to be. If you earned $160K last year, then an additional 20% would mean earning $32K more this year, for a total of $192K. Review how many days or weeks you practiced last year (and at what rates) to earn $160K. Now do the math. How many additional days or what rate increase might you need to achieve your new goal? You are on your way to having an actionable plan.

Take the first step

Staying with the income example, a good first step toward that goal as a locum tenens physician might be contacting each staffing agency with which you partner. Discuss how often you would like to provide temporary services in 2008. Let your recruiters know what would be most ideal for you. They may not be able to check off every item on your wish list, but they will be better equip-ped to support your goals if they know exactly what you want.

Consider a big leap

In addition to having an action plan that includes small steps toward achieving a specific goal, sometimes it is useful (not to mention highly engaging) to take a big leap. Who knows? You may decide to turn that daily jog into training for a marathon. Then again, if you are considering a career change or are interested in supplementing your income, try an alternative to traditional practice and take a short locum tenens opportunity close to home.

NALTO wishes you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2008. We hope these ideas on goals will help you on your path to achieving all of those things, plus anything else that is important and meaningful to you.

Views and opinions expressed herein are those of NALTO and not necessarily those of Advanstar Communications Inc. or LocumLife.

About the Author

Karen Childress is a Colorado-based freelance healthcare writer currently crafting a series of articles on behalf of NALTO.

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