Summer 2023

Members & Publications


Goal Setting in a New PGY Year

Dr. Mata circle 150


Robin Mata, DO, MPH
PGY3, PHiT Ambassador
University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital


The days are long, but the years are short. It is surprisingly easy to get swept up with clinical and academic responsibilities during residency. Although this time is meant to prepare you and advance your career, without a clear personal plan in place it can also leave you feeling like the year has passed you by. Goal setting at the beginning of each post graduate year is an important and fulfilling habit that can help you stay in tune with what is really important to you.

To start, know that this process is completely about you and no approach to goal writing is wrong. Ultimately you should end up with a list of things you want to achieve throughout the year. Some ideas of how to brainstorm what these could be are starting with generic goals like "I want to be happy" and then identifying what makes or would make you happy. Another approach is starting with major goal categories such as: personal, financial, career-oriented, social, physical or emotional goals, and identifying one to three achievements that would be significant for you in each relevant category.

Once you have identified what you want, the next step is breaking it down into smaller steps that make it achievable. You may not need to know all the steps you will have to take to achieve your goal but you should be able to recognize the first step you need to take for each goal. No matter how small or big the steps are, the important thing is that you are making progress. Try to identify the next step after each one you complete. Establishing relative timelines helps liken your chances of achieving your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to take a trip, picking a vacation week that would be a good fit and scheduling transfers into a savings account for the airfare that will equal the amount you need by a certain date before that week is a good first step.

If your list has many goals and you feel stretched thin, narrow your focus to your three most important goals. By taking steps towards them and achieving these goals, you will not only increase your confidence but reinforce the habit, allowing you to work on the rest of your goals. In the busy life of a resident, it's easy to become distracted by clinical responsibilities, new projects that pop up and daily life. Finding a way to keep yourself accountable for your progress will keep you on-track. You can use passive visual reminders like a vision board in your room or have your goal as your cell phone screen saver. For more direct reminders, you can set reminders in your calendar or automate bank transfers to save money in a separate account. The beauty of goal setting is that it allows you to express yourself and take the time out of your busy life to find out what is really important to you so you can look back on your year with a sense of joy and pride.