Since becoming president I have talked to many more doctors around the province, in different specialties, with different interests, about a diverse number of subjects than I did in my past life as a mere pediatrician.
In different ways, shapes, and forms, I find out what physicians are interested in and how they go about living their daily lives. It strikes me that even though physicians have activities they like to do, families they want to spend time with, career aspirations, philanthropic objectives, travel plans, and so on, few have developed any sort of plan: that happens only when there is time, money, or all the stars are aligned.
I’ve often thought that all physicians, because we work long hours and have much to juggle on a regular basis, should have a life plan. Many people, and doctors are guilty of this, create their career plan and then adapt their life according to that plan. We get caught up in the day-to-day essentials of our jobs and lives, losing sight of the bigger picture.
By adapting our life to our profession, what we’re really doing is spending precious time managing our life around our job. This is why we often have difficulty in finding a good life-work balance.
To be successful in all aspects of life, one should develop and then live a plan that turns dreams into reality—otherwise many dreams will remain only dreams. It is a mistake to not know your destination as you could very well end up in the wrong place. A life plan provides not only a destination, but also the road to get there.
A life plan begins with your very own mission statement. Most organizations have mission statements to help guide them forward and define their purpose, and so should individuals. This is a statement that clarifies your values and beliefs, and states your goals or intentions. It also forms the basis for judging your success.
The elements of a life plan should include all aspects of your life—family, career aspirations (including an exit plan), dreams, interests, health, giving back to society, and so on. In order to succeed, you need to set goals as these allow you to take control of your life’s direction and provide a benchmark for determining success.
Goals that motivate are the ones most likely to be attained. These goals should be the top priorities, the final destination of a few key areas of your life—otherwise you end up with far too many goals leaving little time to spend on each one.
The next step is an action plan to achieve these goals. This stage is often missed as people can get so focused on the outcome that the individual steps of reaching their goals are forgotten. By breaking your long-term goals into short-term goals, you create milestones that help you stay on track.
We all know that circumstances can change over time, for better or for worse, and so the steps required to reach your goals may also need to change. Being flexible is key. It’s also important to know your strengths and weaknesses, and to look at your fears and beliefs—and then challenge them.
In looking at the big picture, think of the ideal life you want to live and, keeping your mission statement front and centre, determine how to best get there. George Patton once said, “a good plan vigorously executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Don’t wait for the ideal moment, the flawless plan of action, or the free time to do it. Those are just excuses. Start now.
—Nasir Jetha, MD
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
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For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org