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.