Tips for Setting Goals

setting goals

As a working mother, setting goals is the main reason I am able to accomplish anything.

setting goals

In life we have a tendency to set lofty far-reaching goals as we were always taught as children to reach for the stars and land on the moon.  I think that is great–but we also have to work on short-term goals and strategies, after all if we want to build a rocket to get to the moon we must first read up on it.  In other words, I think it is important to break everything down into immediate goals, short-term goals and long-term goals.  Often times these will reflect each other and be a means to an end to reach the final target. This is especially true in motherhood, since you never know what obstacles might pop up, making it important to be flexible in the setting of goals.

To put it into perspective, one of my personal goals was to be a Team Physician for United States Lacrosse.  As I played lacrosse growing up and at Duke, I feel as though the sport gave me the tenacity, strength, confidence and teamwork that molded me into becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.  From my sports medicine background, I wanted to give back to the sport I love.  After finishing fellowship and working with the Red Sox, Bruins and New England Revolution, I was familiar with the commitment that covering a team medically requires.  My next step was to try to use all of my training and background to pursue my long-term goal of being the Team Physician for United States Lacrosse.  I would advocate to put some emotional investment into these long-term goals and imagine how it would feel to say “YOU DID IT!”  I think adding some color as to why you would want to achieve the mission makes that path to get there that much more enjoyable.

Breaking it down–

Immediate goals are the check box items that you write in your notebook, journal, smart phone (tasks/notepad) and are able to accomplish within a week or so.  An example would be for my goal of making Team Physician–establishing contacts with the program and understanding current relationships that may give suggestions for your goal, learning more about the medical requirements of being a team physician for US Lacrosse, confirming that my membership was up-to-date.

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Short-term goals should take about 1-3 months of purposeful work to achieve.  Again, try to keep track of these goals as well in your journal or smart phone app–something that you will look at on a regular basis.  Goals need to be visual and present and not lofty and unable to achieve.  My short-term goals with lacrosse were to publish research to prevent injury, meet different lacrosse programs to understand the background of the team physician role, and to attend an Annual US Lacrosse Symposium and Conference.  These goals require some pre-planning and will not be achieved in one sitting. They take organization and reaching out.

When you add up these short-term goals in sequence, they should push you towards your over-arching long-term goal, and effectively break up the work into segments to make things much easier to accomplish, both in the now, and in the future.


“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

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Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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