Crucial key to success in 2011
Setting goals as a GP Registrar is an important aspect of clinical training. In the e-portfolio, you are urged to write your goals for each placement; how you are going to achieve them and then return to document the outcome of that goal. It is called creating a PDP or Personal Development Plan.
At my first GP e-portfolio assessment in November 2010, my supervisor went through all my goals and analysed each one. Her main critique was that my goals were too broad and non-specific, thereby making it difficult to assess whether I had achieved them or not. I was not able to show her justifiable evidence that I had gained an understanding of managing ‘all complex medical problems in the elderly’ because the goal in the first instance was too big to quantify. So she took the time to explain how I could make my goals SMART; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Every December I go through my goals from the previous year and perform a tick exercise on whether I achieved each one or not. My love for writing means that I have notepads and papers floating around with goals, dreams and vision on it for every stage of my life for every year, sometimes months, weeks and days. It always feels great for me to be able to tick the things I wrote down at the beginning that were achieved 12 months later.
However for 2011, I decided to use a different approach for evaluating my goals from 2010. I didn’t simply tick the things I had achieved; I reviewed each goal, asked myself why I had written it down in the first place, why it was achieved or not achieved and was it still a goal worth writing again for 2011.
Like my supervisor had noted, I learnt that my yearly goals so far had not all been SMART. There was a pattern emerging in which the goals I had achieved were the ones that were well articulated. The goals that had not been achieved on the other hand were because they were vague, unrealistic, poorly defined and I had attempted to do too much in the 12 months I had. So for 2011, I have decided to make wiser goals. If you would like to do the same, apply the points below when making your goals.
- Write your overall vision for the year – this can be one or more lines. It can be a whole A4 page. It doesn’t matter. Just write where you would like to be at the end of the year and what you would like to have achieved by December 2011. If it helps get a picture that represents your vision and place it somewhere you can see it on a daily basis.
- Break your goals into smaller pieces – it is always good to write down your bigger picture. However you must make sure you break that bigger picture into the smaller steps you have to take to achieve it. It might help to put them into categories so that they are easier to remember. How do you eat a whole elephant? One bite at a time. In the same way, tackle that big dream or vision in small bite size chunks.
- Prioritise your goals – not everything in your life has the same significance although some things might be of equal importance. By prioritising your goals, you are able to allocate a greater amount of time to more important things and avoid wasting time on trivial matters. You can also prioritise your goals based on the order they need to occur not just importance. For example, there might be an important exam you need to take in August but you have to do online modules before you can apply for that exam. Therefore you might want to assign January to April to completing your modules, May to July for studying and revision for the exam and August for the exam itself. There is no reason to worry about the exam in January because it is not a priority at the time.
- Write clear, precise goals – once the goals have been broken down into smaller steps, try to articulate them as plainly and simply as possible. Imagine somebody else reading your vision and goals for 2011. Would they be able to run with it if you were not there to explain it to them? Simplifying your goals makes it easier for you to remember them 7, 8 or 9 months down the line.
- Review your progress frequently – avoid the New Year’s Resolution syndrome. Many people start the year with a resolution to do something and break it almost as soon as the year just started. Instead, have a vision, set goals as steps towards that vision and review them frequently to see whether you are still on track to achieve them. This can both encourage you when you are making progress and motivate you when you are slacking behind.
- Plan this year with the following year in mind – one of my main problems is that I crammed too many goals for myself within a 1 year period and have inevitably had to pass over unachieved goals from a previous year to the next. When making your goals in 2011, remember that by God’s grace, you will make it to 2012. There is no rush to do it all in 1 year. Avoid putting pressure on yourself. Spread some goals over a 2 year, 5 year or even longer period if necessary.
Most importantly when planning the year ahead, write with God by your side. Ask Him to show you what He has planned and where He wants to take you in 2011. This will form the basis of the vision you see. Then with His guidance, you can begin to create goals as steps towards that vision.
In 2010, I achieved many of the goals I had written down at the beginning of the year. There are still some major goals I haven’t achieved yet which I took to God and asked why that was. Iwanted to now if I needed to work harder, pray more or have more faith. Instead God showed me how although I had not achieved those specific goals, He had been working to prepare me for them. He showed me significant events and experiences in 2010 which I had learnt from and have served as tools to expand my thinking and sharpen my faith.
For 2011, I have not written many different goals to 2010. Instead I am expectant and eager to see how God brings to pass the vision He has for the year, excited at the prospect that by December 2011, I will be a better person, a more loving Christian and brighter light for Christ by His grace.
May God bless and keep you in His presence forever, Amen
Dr Elizabeth F Babatunde
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