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How to avoid “Quitting Day” and Keep Those Resolutions, Med Students

By OnlineMedEd January 9, 2020

Keeping that spark.

Keeping a New Year’s resolution is a challenge for anyone. Studies show that 80% of people who make resolutions for the new year will fail. There’s even an official Quitter’s Day (January 19th, in case you were wondering), which is a prediction for the day that most people will lose their resolve.

But trying to maintain a New Year’s resolution as a med student comes with a multitude of unique challenges. Many med students are already struggling to keep their heads above water, let alone manage a lofty goal they’ve set for themselves. Who can think about working out or getting a full night of sleep when you have clinical rotations and hours of studying to do each day?

Let’s face facts: if there’s anyone that is capable of sticking to a New Year’s resolution, it’s a med school student. You’re already in one of the most focused periods of your life, where you must tune out all the background noise and go for your heart’s desire with full force. You already have the discipline to achieve whatever you set your mind to, so why not set a challenge for yourself that will ultimately improve your life and help you be an even better student?

We’ve taken a practical approach to conquering your New Year’s resolution. Put the following tips into motion and enjoy a new level of success this year:


Understand Why Most Resolutions Fail

Let’s start with the fundamentals: you already know that most resolutions aren’t achieved, but do you know why? As a med student, you should be trained to ask this question about everything!

In most cases, the problem isn’t the person, but rather the approach. You already have the drive and desire to achieve whatever goals you set (that’s the med student persona), but you also need a system that you can easily follow. Think of it as a roadmap: without direction, you risk taking unnecessary detours or entirely wrong paths that won’t lead you to the desired end result.

The other big reason why most resolutions fail is that the goal itself isn’t clearly defined. Vague ideas like “I want to lose weight” aren’t goals but rather desires with no set parameters. It’s like saying, “I want this patient’s temperature to drop.” By how much? How soon?

Here’s what a good resolution looks like:

  • It’s specific.

  • It’s measurable.

  • It’s attainable.

  • It’s results-focused.

  • It’s timely.

These are also known as SMART goals and serve as the foundation for your success.


Tie in Your Resolution with Your Future

A med student wearing a mask and looking into the camera

Med school students share one top priority, no matter your background or experience: your future. You’re in med school not because you love reading word-heavy textbooks but because you have chosen a special career that not many people are well-suited for. You want to care for others and help them have a better quality of life. You have a thirst for deep-level knowledge and experiences and want others to benefit from your work.

And while things like losing weight, getting more sleep, or eating well might seem more like “in the moment” goals, they can help you set yourself up for success as a future physician. 

Self-care routines are great habits to form now before you take on the role of a physician. As you turn actions into routines, you’ll be more likely to stick with them and allow them to serve you well throughout your career. 

Whatever your resolutions, see how you can connect them to your future career and how they will help you improve the way you work or function. Making this connection can help you keep your resolution high on your priority list and make it feel more like a part of your journey through med school.


Turn Your Resolution Into Smaller Pieces

Individual pieces and parts

Achieving a resolution can be daunting when that resolution looms higher than Mount Everest. 

Think about when you first enrolled in med school: you’re standing at the base of an educational mountain, looking up at 9+ years of coursework and clinicals. To get to the top where all the physicians are, you have to take the first step toward the summit—the first class that will begin your journey toward a career as a doctor. 

Rather than jumping straight from the bottom to the top of the mountain, every test, every class, and every year brings you closer to your degree. 

This same methodology applies to New Year’s resolutions: you have an end goal in mind, and you take smaller steps or actions toward that goal until you reach it. Goals aren’t reached overnight; rather, they’re the end product of a carefully laid strategy for a series of actions that make achieving your goal possible. 

Think about how you can break your goal into smaller, easier-to-digest actions that can keep you on the right track and always moving forward.


Track Your Progress

While you’re climbing the mountain, it’s okay to look down and see how far you’ve come. In fact, many people will tell you that measuring your progress is an essential part of goal setting. You need to know that you’re making progress toward the end result you want. If you’re not, you need to figure out why you’re spinning your wheels and how you can remove whatever is stopping you from progressing.

The road to success is rarely a straight line, but don’t confuse a detour with complete derailment. While you might have stalled along the way, you can still keep moving. It’s never too late to get back on track. 


Getting Support Along the Way

Everyone needs a little help along the journey to becoming a doctor, and OnlineMedEd can provide you with the educational support you need. Our collection of videos and online resources can bring clarity to your coursework and guide you in meeting your test score resolutions. You’ll enjoy the peace of mind of knowing you’re learning everything you need—and nothing you don’t.


Deep dives into real issues impacting medical education, brought to you by OnlineMedEd.


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