Outgoing President Dr. David Beck outlines value of “Choosing your Goals”
In a very practical Presidential Address, outgoing ASCRS President Dr. David E. Beck, New Orleans, LA, drew on his background in the U.S. Air Force and outlined the value of setting personal goals and striving to achieve them. He also commented on the benefits the Society’s leadership has derived from goal setting and strategic planning.
“Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation,” he told the Annual Meeting audience. “It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure progress and take pride in their achievement. You'll see advancement in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognize your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you've set.”
Dr. Beck suggested setting goals on a number of levels: first, a “big picture” of “what you want to achieve in your lifetime or at least in the distant future.” Next, break these big lifetime goals down into smaller and smaller targets.
“The military by its nature is very goal oriented. As we looked at career progression, we often used an evaluation sheet that contained check boxes of perquisites for advancement. This led many of us to the phrase ‘checked that square’ when we had a new experience or completed task,” he said.
Dr. Beck said it is critical to put goals into writing, as it “crystallizes them and gives them more force. Make your operational goals small enough to be achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Smaller incremental goals provide more opportunities for reward. Goals are better when they set a performance rather than an outcome,” he added.
“‘Reading the ASCRS textbook’ is a better goal than ‘knowing colorectal surgery,’” he said. “You should take care to set goals in areas over which you have control and your goals should be realistic. Your goals should challenge you and stretch your abilities.
“Identifying a number of smaller tasks that are often required to achieve a larger goal, eases the process and can keep you motivated. A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic
“While there are variations, SMART usually stands for:
S - Specific (or Significant).
M - Measurable (or Meaningful).
A - Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R - Relevant (or Rewarding).
T - Time-bound (or Trackable).”
Source for this variation of SMART: http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html.
“For example, instead of having "To sail around the world" as a goal, it's more powerful to say "To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015." Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!”
Another useful technique, he said, is to use what has been called “backward planning,” starting with the ultimate goal and then identifying the milestones or prerequisites required to accomplish it.
Vision and goal setting has benefited the ASCRS since its founding in 1899, according to Dr. Beck. Over the past decade, Society leaders have met regularly to conduct strategic planning. Written goals have been reviewed and updated on a four-year cycle, involving a broad spectrum of ASCRS members.
The Society’s current goals cover six areas: Education, Specialty care and practice management, Communication, Relationships with other organizations, Fiscal stability and Membership. Under these six areas, the Society has 53 specific objectives, each with a responsible party tasked with its accomplishment. An update on the Society’s goals is available on the Website, www.fascrs.org.
“How can Goal Setting have an impact in your career?” Dr. Beck asked. “We have a spectrum of attendees, from medical students, to trainees, to experienced and senior clinicians. Many of you are accomplishing or have accomplished your goals of education and residency. As you look at your career, you need to consider clinical activity, academics, and participation in professional societies such as the ASCRS.
“Participation in the ASCRS provides a number of benefits. In additional to education opportunities such as this meeting, you can network with other colorectal surgeons. Colleagues you met during the interview process often become some of your closest friends. The Society aids career development and opportunities for recognition. You can be mentored and as your career progresses, mentor others, while serving your patients and our specialty,” he continued.
“Interaction in our society starts with membership and attendance at meetings. The next step is participation in one or more of our 22 committees,” Dr. Beck said.
Summarizing his message, Dr. Beck said goal setting can help you separate what's important from what's irrelevant, or a distraction. “Set your lifetime goals first. Then, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Keep the process going by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And remember to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals when you do so.
“If you don't already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you'll find your career accelerating, and you'll wonder how you did without it!”
He added a new goal of his own as past president: to convert all the presidential addresses since the Society’s founding in 1899 into a digital format for future presidents.