control your time to achieve your goals

This article was originally published on October 4th, 2019. It was most recently updated on June 27th, 2022.

Right now, where are you with your goals for the year? Taking control of your time is critical in order to achieve your goals. There are important questions you can ask yourself at the beginning of each day, month or year:

What do I want? How important is this to me? What am I spending time on that is helping me and what is hurting me? What can I do more of and less of?

If you’re not sure about the answers to these questions, ask yourself the following to find out what matters to you:

What defines success for you? A bigger paycheck? A bigger house? A more prestigious job? Work-life balance? Spending quality time with loved ones? Helping patients live healthier lives?

Identifying those goals is the first step. Whether financial, career, or personal, making positive changes in your life first involves taking stock of how you are doing things now. Take note of what’s working and what’s not working as you are continuing towards achieving your goals and ambitions.

Determining Your Personal Goals

Do I enjoy waking up to the same routine every day? If it’s working for you, great! But incorporating just one simple change each day can pay off with quick results. Turn off the cute YouTube videos and the toxic political diatribe on your phone and take the dog for a healthy walk. Or buckle down and gather the study materials you need for that additional professional certification you’ve just talked about for too long. If you dislike routine and want to mix it up every once in a while, temping may be right for you.

Are the things that are important to me showing up in my daily life? You are the one in charge. If your job routine has become nothing but a chore, and you are watching the clock for quitting time or getting anxious for the weekend by Wednesday morning, it’s time to start strategizing some changes in your professional life. For example, is it time to take a break to recharge your batteries from burnout? Before making major life decisions, it’s always a good idea to give yourself enough time to determine the root cause of your unhappiness.

Am I taking care of my health? Have I put the priorities of my job, spouse, kids, and parents ahead of my own needs? Am I ignoring a warning sign of a health problem of my own, while I’d raise a red flag about the same condition to a patient or a family member? Take the advice of the flight attendant in those safety instructions: “Secure your own air mask before assisting others!” It’s time to practice self-care to manage your health needs.

Determining Your Financial Goals

Do I have the freedom to experience my favorite personal interest financially?  Whether you are interested in a road trip to visit your favorite National Parks, need to update your scuba diving certification, or would like to participate as a volunteer on a global medical mission, make a commitment to yourself. Grab a calendar. Do the research. Make a plan. Start to make things happen. 

Do I really want everything I am spending money on? You’ve probably heard about Goodwill Centers around the country being flooded with donations after thousands of people adopted the “less stuff, more life experiences” strategy made popular by Japanese author Marie Kondo. Join your neighbors to clean up your local park. Help a refugee family resettle. Join a book club. Find a cause or hobby that’s important to you and research ways you can get involved locally to make a difference.

Do I have enough saved for an emergency or an opportunity? A recent study found that 78% of U.S. workers are living paycheck to paycheck, with three out of four saying they are in debt. Start an emergency fund now, however modest, to take the sting out of an unexpected car repair or a medical expense. Alternatively, it could be a welcome stash available for an investment, like an educational option that may open up new doors for you or a family member. There may be ways for you to increase your pay with a new certification or degree to move up within the practice or give you the knowledge to start your own!

Am I financially dependent on anyone today or in the future? Whether it comes from parents or a bank, debt can be a drain both financially and emotionally. If money problems are overwhelming you and interfering with your work and personal life, seek out a reputable financial planner. Plotting out everything from college tuition to nursing home costs makes life easier and dramatically cheaper by creating a long-term plan.

Determining Your Career Goals

Am I investing in myself? There’s an adage, you have to spend money to make money. But always in the right circumstances. Taking care of yourself, whether it is an immediate health care concern, a long-overdue holiday, or a five-year plan for a job promotion, needs attention. Nurturing a dream takes time, and commitment. But what could be more important?

Am I happy where I am? Is your office toxic or do you dread coming in every day? Do you feel appreciated and like your opinions matter to office management? What does your ideal practice look like? Your patients are affected when there is office drama, conflict, or discontent. On the other hand, patients can feel when good vibes radiate from the practice. Make sure your professional goals are aligned with the practice so you are both working towards the same end goal and you aren’t sacrificing your integrity.

Additional Resources

There are plenty of resources online to help you with some time management tips and skills. But remember, keep it simple. One new habit scribbled on a Post-It Note faithfully followed is worth more than a spiral notebook full of ignored suggestions!

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