Setting goals and reaching them…sometimes

Each year, my friends and I set goals for ourselves. We normally gather around a table in a restaurant we have all (amazingly) agreed upon, lists in hand and give each other an overview of what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. Goals range from the mundane (I want to clean out the guest room), to the ridiculous (I want to travel to every continent), and anywhere in-between. We share our lists with each other in case someone is able to offer some advice or even help with accomplishing the goal. In the past my goals have been about “keeping it together” throughout medical school/interning/residency, but with that behind me I had to look toward the future in order to come up with my yearly goals.

In the weeks before I went to Boston to visit friends for the New Year, I agonized over what I wanted to write. I didn’t want to make a list of safe, easily attainable goals and I also didn’t want to place my goals so far out of reach they weren’t attainable. After much deliberation I came up with the following list:

– Read thirty (30) books in 2011
So far I have done well with this goal. I have read eight books since the January gathering and I am working on my ninth book at the moment.


Can I do it? Can I read 30 books in 2011?

If I complete the goal earlier than December 31, I will consider aiming for a higher number next year. I just have to remember that I currently work ridiculous hours and maintain a home on my own.

I am always open to suggestions regarding what I should read. Have a look at my Goodreads account and make a recommendation!

-Run fifty (50) miles a week following Runners World MPW Target Goals
Since starting this I have hit the 50 mile mark each week, substituting an elliptical work-out on days when I could not run on a track or outside. I have definitely enjoyed this particular goal, but I don’t think I would want to run more than 50 mpw as long as I am working my current hours.

-Complete two (2) detox plans
So far I have completed one 21-day detox and plan on doing another later on in the year. The first detox was moderately difficult to

Detox staples

I learned to love tea, cayenne pepper and citrus

follow, but I want to challenge myself more with the second. I was able to follow the detox for the full 21-days and would like to try a month-long detox in the future.

The 21-day detox plan was taken from an issue of Natural Health Magazine. I did take recipes from different detox sites to make the detox “my own.”

-Buy a house in California
This goal has been fully completed and I am currently in the process of fully moving in/unpacking. Buying this house means that I now own my first home (was never in one place long enough to consider purchasing a house) and adds even more responsibility to my already heaping plate.

-Set aside time to write every day
I have been working on doing this, but I have to admit that I have not written every day. Even though I have been keeping a journal

Hospital board

Yea, this doesn't count as writing

(a practice I learned during the detox plan), writing blog posts and using Twitter more frequently it hasn’t been something I have done daily. I also don’t think I can/should count Twitter, so that means I have been writing even less.

I think the reason it is so difficult for me to write when I get home, is because I write on charts and CBC’s all day. When I get home I just want to relax and not make my brain work any more than it already has.

-Learn to say “No”
Since I was young, I have found it very difficult to tell people no. I would end up working shifts I didn’t want, driving for hours to pick up a friend and generally not looking out for myself. I have completely failed at this goal so far this year. I continually agree to work extra hours and see patients well past their scheduled appointments. By doing this, I have put myself in a place that is further away from where I need to be. I should be working fewer hours, enjoying what I have worked hard to attain and traveling to the places I want to visit before I no longer can

Volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières
Working with MSF has been a dream of mine since I decided to go into medicine. I have always wanted to help those dealing with endemic disease and living in war ravaged countries. When I finally completed my residency, I kept looking forward to the day I would be able to travel with the organization. Sadly, my life has gone in the other direction and my specialization makes it more difficult for me to leave my current job.

-Allow myself to be more artistic
A little known fact about myself, I originally wanted to attend SCAD and major in sequential art and photography. In high school, my father set up a dark room for me in our basement and I spent hours developing photographs. I became obsessed with photography and began creating

Super Doc

I think I may change my name plate to "Super Doc"

comics that were a combination of photographs and pen/ink drawings. My sophomore year of school, I begged my parents to send me to a summer program at SCAD. After much protesting, they finally relented and I spent the majority of the vacation in Georgia. I learned that I adored the creative process, but loathed being told what I could and could not create. I came home, told my parents I wanted to attend art school and began applying to schools all over the country. My parents flat-out refused and told me that I would choose either engineering or medicine. They signed me up for an MCAT program at a local college and I took the test the following year. When I was accepted to medical school, I burned all of my drawings and most of my photographs, as I didn’t want anything to remind me of what I had originally wanted.

-Take a cooking course in one of the following cuisines:  Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, Persian (Middle eastern), Spanish, Latin American
I have yet to actually sign up for a course (mostly because I don’t know where to sign up in Los Angeles), but I still want to improve upon what I have already learned. When I was in NYC, I was lucky enough to take cooking lessons from Italian, Thai, Chinese, French and Korean chefs.

-Travel back to Poland to see family
This goal will probably have to wait until later in the year, as I will be busy for the majority of the summer. I would really like to travel back home to Łódź and visit with friends/family, it is definitely something I miss.

After I had read my list there was much discussion about the time commitment some of my goals would take. Many of my friends didn’t think I should try to take more cooking courses or write every day. I told them that I understood why they thought I wouldn’t have time, but that I wanted to challenge myself this year. In the end they agreed to help me in any way they could and many said they would even try to follow the detox plans as well.

I think that setting these goals for myself, even if I don’t complete every one of them, allows me to see just how much I am capable of. They show me that I can fail at certain things and life will still go on, even if I’m not perfect in all aspects. I wonder how many other people set goals for themselves and actually stick to trying to attain them. It makes me happy to know that I am continually setting the bar higher, striving to enrich my life and make myself a more interesting person.

I would be very interested to hear the goals other people have set for themselves! Leave a comment with a past/present goal that you enjoyed completing or hope to complete at some point in the future.

Also, if anyone can give me tips on how to format pictures better within the paragraphs (so that there is less spacing) let me know!

3 responses to “Setting goals and reaching them…sometimes

  1. Think I’m gonna go and try set some goals for myself.. 🙂 This is very inspiring. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks for the comment on my no-shopping post! And congrats on being done with med school/residency and a new homeowner! My husband is a fellow, so we’re on the tail end of that seemingly unending ride of education and training. It will be nice, but strange, to not have to move every 3-4 years anymore.

    • When it finally ends, there is this awkward period where you don’t realize it’s over! The point where you understand that you no longer have to move around is pretty amazing. Congrats to your husband for working so hard and to you for sticking with him! I know it can be trying to be in a relationship with a medical student/resident/fellow!!!

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