From a psychological standpoint, goals enable us to make progress, and as humans, we are naturally wired for progress, Ms. Wright continues. “When we feel stagnant and stuck in an area of our lives, we get frustrated,” she says. Having something to work toward gives us a sense of purpose, and provides challenges and learning and growth opportunities, which are vital to developing a healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Goals are critical for many positive personal qualities, as well as a fulfilled life.
Setting Professional Goals
The start of a new year is a good time to set professional goals. When setting career goals, Dr. Paget says you need to have a sense of who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you most enjoy doing. “There are many paths to take to achieve your goals, and they differ greatly depending on whether you want to be a clinician, physician–scientist, medical educator, chair of a department or a dean of a medical center,” he says. “Speak to your mentors to get their sense of your strengths and weaknesses and [help determine] where you might best focus your efforts.”
Reflecting on professional goals that he has set, Dr. Paget says he always wanted to be part of an academic institution and in a leadership position. In order to achieve this, he needed to take a certain path, which meant applying himself early on to excel as a medical student, resident and fellow wherever possible; becoming involved in research; joining both hospital and national committees to optimize his network; taking courses that would enhance his abilities and make him more professionally attractive; and seeking out the guidance of trusted mentors who could help him choose and attain a goal.