Zarrin Shaikh: Small achievable targets

Happy new year all!

Having spent every Christmas or New Year’s Eve since qualifying on call, I was consumed with guilt when I suggested to my supervisors that I was contemplating taking two entire weeks off. I managed to justify this excessive holiday by promising to digest the entire contents of respiratory physiology by John West and skim the fundamentals of exercise physiology. Of course, this was in addition to rewriting my grant application. Clearly deluded at the time, I thought this was an achievable target.

New year’s resolution number 1: Do not kid oneself.

One of my biggest challenges with research is setting realistic goals. My “to do” lists are endless and I constantly become overwhelmed and end up procrastinating instead of achieving. My office buddy (who is fantastic – I am truly blessed) sensed I may be experiencing achievement issues and suggested a truly inspirational cognitive behavioural technique. A star chart. So today, whilst the clinical world is gearing up for the year ahead and dealing with the sheer volume of winter admissions, we will be making our monthly star chart filled with small achievable targets. Pure genius!

On a serious note, by the end of this week, I intend to finish my grant application and recruit at least 10 volunteers for my study. I can then feel justified in rewarding myself a gold star.

  • Isn’t it just awful that we feel guilty asking for time off over christmas and new year. I very much doubt NHS managers feel guilty about this, or any of the civil servants that may work on health policy.

    I realise that our goal is about public service however it does often seem that we are taken advantage of. This is partially outside pressure however it is also embedded within medical culture.

    I think I am just annoyed as I can recall my first christmas day on call when I only had pringles for my chistmas lunch with some celery sticks (and this was only because A+E were feeling sorry for me)