Saturday, November 16, 2013

Do you have 5 year plan?

When asked this recently, I fumbled.  Actually, I tossed back the answer, asking the asker to mentor me through getting such a plan.  It wasn’t even someone who knew me well and it had been asked in a fairly casual way.  Regardless, I was not able to answer the question.  But if I were to answer it, the answer would be, “No I do not.”

I feel like my personal plan is on track, I have some goals which essentially these include some family fun and fitness.  But in the professional arena, I don’t have a 5 year plan like others do.  Do others have a 5 year plan? 

I have quite an accurate 5 day plan.  My calendar is reasonably organized.  I'm a list writer, whether on paper or on a smartphone (actually, both) and an avid list crosser-offer.  Sometimes I'm tempted to add things just so I can cross them off again once completed.

Flash back 5 years ago, I don’t think I actually had a career plan to get to where I am now, though I am where I want to be.  I was "finished" with the relatively more well-defined years of college, med school, residency, public health school, educator-leadership program, (can you say "perpetual trainee" or more generously "life long learner"?).  Career-wise, I think that mostly things have come to me through plenty of hard work, but admittedly with some luck, good timing, and strong collaborations.  Now I’m trying to think about what will come next.  Not that I’m at a mid-life crisis per se, but just that if I try to map out what’s coming up, what should happen, what I’d like to do or explore professionally, I’m just not sure.  I feel like I can (and do) help others along with theirs, but not sure of my own at this point.  In academia there are peaks, valleys, plateaus and mountains to climb.  I am hoping I can find the right trail.  The journey is still interesting, made more interesting by taking part in mentoring others, even as I continue to pave my own way.  I have a vision of what I might want to do but I'm not sure how to get there or if it's feasible.  I continue trekking onward. 

Do you tend to let things happen and see what unfolds along the way, or do you have a plan?

12 comments:

  1. Nope, no 5-year career plan. Maybe I did at one point, but along the way (was it the deployment and realizing how important it is to live in the present?), have adopted a different perspective. I ask myself periodically, am I fulfilled right now? Do I get to do what I want to do, career-wise? The answer has thankfully been yes. However, I'd say if that answer was no - a plan - not necessarily 5 year - may be in order. I feel like when you are getting to do what you love, what fulfills you, doors and paths appear naturally, bringing you to that fitting next step career-wise. I don't want to waste a single minute yearning and hoping for something way in the future when I've got it all (for now).

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  2. I definitely have one. I also have (tentative) 10 and 15 year plans. However, I'm also applying to residency so it's a little easier to envision.... and also kind of mandatory since I'm asked what my plan is on every interview.

    That being said, thinking about how I will achieve what I want 5, 10, 15 years from now is a little overwhelming/nauseating, so in general on a day to day basis I try to focus on the now.

    I also want to chime in and say that like KC, I presently feel like I have "it all" at this current moment. I'm working hard and feeling busy, but also very happy with my current balance.

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  3. I suspect all of us have had a 5 year plan at some point or we wouldn't be in a medical career. But the exact roll out of the plan usually turns out to be more like the old fashioned childrens' game of Shutes and Ladders that a straight trajectory. So we need to keep tinkering with the plan, but enjoying life as it happens.

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  4. Love that KC, OMDG, and DrNana highlight enjoying life, maintaining balance, and living in the moment of having everything you have right now. Okay then, that's the plan! Thanks for the comments and the MiM community.

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  5. Man. My comment has been erased twice. Here goes the third.
    I am just starting in my career, so i want to keep avenues open - get comfortable with clinical care (my appointment), continue to network and get involved in clinical research. Personally my goals are mainly financial - pay down my student debt, bolus our retirement and savings. Very predictable and boring end-of-training-time-to-get-our-financial-house-in-order kind of stuff. I would also like to take down my half marathon time by a few minutes. Goals not as large as "get married, have some kids, get into and survival xwz training program" but still, something to look forward to

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    1. Third time's a charm, thanks for commenting! I agree that having the basics (shelter, food, warmth, financial house in order) are key --like Maslow's hierarchy of needs-- and then you can thrive. Maybe a quicker half marathon... in Tokyo!

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  6. As a Peds Resident, my not-quite-5 year (ie, my post residency) plan is what keeps me going on rough days. Such as tonight after a long day in the Neonatal Unit. I pick Attendings' brains about their work and home schedules and then I daydream about it. I daydream about having my very own primary patients (not the Attendings' patients, but my own), my set hours with an administrative day (whoop whoop), about teaching eager medical students, about being able to pick my son up from daycare, about spending the weekends with my family.

    I read posts and comments from inspirational mommy-doctors such as you and KC and it inspires me to keep pressing on. You all seem happy and content. Like you've found your calling. I can't wait until I am there more permanently :-)

    Thanks for posting!

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    1. Thanks for writing, Mommabee. You will get there! Enjoy some portion of every day, even as you look to your post residency goals. And by the way, you (students, former students, trainees, former trainees) provide us with inspiration.

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  7. I think it makes sense to have goals, although you don't always have to end up where you thought you wanted to be. I don't think striving for goals necessarily conflicts with enjoying the present; I think it can be part of enjoying the present. The value of goals is they help you identify what skills you need to learn to move you along the path-- and that gives you input on what to do today.

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  8. I'm a M2, so in 5 years I'll be in residency. Yep, that's my 5 year plan, cross my fingers, wish on stars that I get into a residency, and then continue my current plan of trying not to die.

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    1. Hi Joleyne, as for residency, you will get there, but in the mean time, I hope you have or can find friends, family, and faculty who will help you thrive rather than just avoid an untimely demise!

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